||I am beginning our 5th year of homeschooling and am feeling overwhelmed. We are so busy, it seems, going here and there for different activities for everyone. I also struggle with keeping my house immaculate and dinners ready for my husband every night when he gets home. Between all of that and caring for so many little ones (and a new one soon, praise God), I am physically exhausted at the end of the day. When I think of adding school, I get extremely overwhelmed. I don't see how I can do it all. I love being a mom, I love being home with them and have loved homeschooling. But it seems most days, we have an activity of some kind and going anywhere with the littles is a HUGE effort and then we come home, I have laundry, cleaning and lunch and dinner to make and I crab at them all because they are bored and I just took them to the library, playdate, extra-curricular activity, etc. I am exhausted!!!
Your letter speaks beautifully of the demands that exist within a loving, holy, and very busy family. Your witness is powerful and your desire to meet the challenges that you are facing is uplifting and encouraging. One does not have to contemplate long to see the worth and the wisdom of our Lord being born into an earthly family. Working within a family is a holy vocation and demands a concentration and a certain discipline that is an anointing from the Lord. I admire your ability to speak candidly and forthrightly about the difficulties you are facing both from a physical standpoint and spiritual standpoint as well. Work that is of the Lord and through His anointing is holy however that does not mean that it is going to be easy.
This morning I was working in my small St. Joseph garden. It is in a part of the yard that I seldom see because it is blocked by a wooden fence. I was hoeing, weeding, and planting some Lantana. Whew, it was hot. The natty little bugs were biting me and the wasps did not like that I decided to clean up their territory. The ground was covered in ivy weeds and the place looked a mess. I enjoy working in the yard and find it relaxing most of the time. But this morning it was irritating. I debated and for a second I thought I would just mow the whole mess down and forget the task.
When we are working in the vineyard of the Lord (our families, our churches, or our circumstances and sorrows) we are literally working side by side with Jesus. I like to picture Him working calmly, quietly, and energetically. I on the other hand am probably complaining, worrying over nothing, wondering when the day's work will be completed and how much I am going to get paid. J However, I know that if I will just draw closer to Jesus and allow myself to work in His shadow, breathe deeply and work without regard to the time of day or the trouble I will find that I am not only going to feel emotionally better but my work will be fruitful.
You are a loving and devoted mom. My pediatrician once told me that it is only the 'good moms' that are wondering if they are doing the right thing. Working with children is demanding and tiring. It is a job in every sense of the word. It is physically exhausting and mentally challenging. We are raising souls for eternity. The level of commitment is far greater because there is more at stake. However Jesus empowers parents with the skills and wisdom necessary to do His will and to be all for the children.
Step back in the next few days. Look at the outside stresses (piles of dishes, laundry, limited budget, etc.) and the inside forces (lack of time to pray, anxiety over unfinished goals, unrealistic goals, etc.) and see where you are in terms of these issues. Outside stresses are those matters that can be addressed in such a way as to ease a burden. Do not expect too much of yourself during this time in your life. An immaculately clean house usually means that someone is aggravated. J People and the issues that surround them are far more important than things. Remember that you are not raising a calf, but a human being and therefore the demands must be adjusted accordingly. Dirty dishes will not affect a person's soul. Children will remember the story that was read to them far more deeply than the clean kitchen. I know this to be true.
Inside forces. These are those challenges that like to tell you that you do not have time. The Tempter is nasty and sneaky. He makes us believe that time is something we gain. This is not true. Time is from the Lord. When there is a lack of time, go straight to the Lord. He will give you the time you need. Prayer is the first thing that the Tempter likes to make us think that we do not have time for. Prayer is the first activity of the day. And so it goes with those forces at work inside us that unsettle us, make us busy instead of fruitful, and worry our efforts.
Step back from school. Take stock of all that you are teaching and trying to do. If life is hectic rely upon the basics. You know of course that reading to your children is one of the most important tasks you can do. It is fruitful in that it develops a child's love of reading and therefore he soon becomes an independent reader/learner. Remember that your two older children are really the only active students that you have at this time. Plan their work to correspond with the demands of your family. Make certain that you are concentrating upon the core subjects in their school day. This is going to be the most fruitful and productive.
Pick and chose those activities that are spiritually uplifting, mentally relaxing, and socially engaging. If going to a particular meeting leaves you and the children exhausted, if you feel nothing but guilt for the time away from the house, and if there were discussions at the meeting that were unsettling, cancel that activity. Sometimes I find more joy in going to lunch with just my children. We come home, read together, take a rest, and I feel like I have really accomplished something, because I have been there for them 100%. In addition I am rested and ready to meet the evening's activities. I like to go to church with just my children and sit in the quiet before the Tabernacle.
When we are within the Lord's will there is a certain peace that becomes the center of our lives. However the Tempter does not like to see us in that state of peace. He uses many tactics to draw us out of peace and into a busy, hurried, and anxious life. We must be on guard against this unholy influence.
I admire you very much. I would imagine that your household is lively and holy. Keep smiling, go forward and take joy. You are the Lord's dear one and He is watching and guarding your efforts. His grace is abundant. Make certain that you speak with your husband about the challenges that you are facing. The graces available to those in a sacramental marriage are enormous and many times go unused.
Let us pray together a Hail Mary for the intentions of all moms.
Sending out a prayer,