||Many changes have taken place in our family during the last couple of years. My father-in-law died of cancer late last year. He lived with us for his last 45 days and died with us (a very holy death) and with the children very much involved. My mother-in-law has Alz. Disease and we have been caring for her in our home for almost a year. She is 100% full-care. Also, this summer, we have been blessed with our sixth child. We are concluding our homeschool year soon. I feel that it has been our worst one ever! I say this not because of a lack of education. On the contrary, I have been blessed with all bright children and quick learners. It is the first year, however, that there has been so much sibling rivalry, uncooperativeness, and even backtalk to me. I would like to attribute this behavior to burnout as we have had a 12-month school year for the last two years. However, I have come to realize that perhaps I have been a bad example to them. Often, I am lacking in the virtue of patience. I have been praying to God asking Him that I be the mother that He desires me to be. Just tonight, I have read the first chapter of Raising Almost Perfect Children and it confirmed to me that I have fallen short of what God expects of me. I have been feeling so guilty. I don't feel like the mom I used to be. I have been feeling so overwhelmed. On the other hand, I think that maybe God is pleased with me for any good that I have done. I have been so overwhelmed but still recognize where my children need correction and stop everything to let them know. I realize though that I can do it with love and not by yelling all the time. I know that love is not only a feeling and I often discuss that with them.
Your letter was an inspiration to me. The Lord is good and sent me a beautiful witness of purity, docility, and love in the words of your letter which are the mirror of your soul. Let us thank Him together for the gift of being able to share with one another through this forum.
Lord Jesus, in Your goodness and mercy You have given me the truest witness of Your presence among Your little ones in this dear mom. I praise You, Lord, and thank You for Your ever-powerful Love. Amen.
I am not at all familiar with the book you referenced so I will have to respond to your letter on the basis that I have not read the book that you mention.
I am perplexed because in your letter you describe yourself as not being patient and I on the other hand see in you and your loving devotion to your dear family the truest essence of patience. Yours is the kind of patience that I would like to imitate. To pour yourself out in such a way for those that you love is the true imitation of the sacred love that Jesus has for each of us. To give of yourself and remain ready to do so is to have entered into a higher realm.
Children fuss with one another and complain and fret about nearly everything. Children are adults in the making. Family life travels in the fast lane much of the time. Though we intellectually believe that being able to "stop everything" and correct our children is the ideal, this may not be what is required of us as parents. Some children squabbles are best handled by chasing everyone outside.
Considering all that your children have had to deal with (all of it necessary and positive in its own way) I am amazed that they are behaving like normal children. It is very disturbing when children are traumatized by events to the point of silence and taking on roles that are not at all childlike. This is further testament to your effectiveness as a loving and wise mother. Surely this wisdom and ability to exhibit "grace under fire" is of the Lord and holy.
Is it okay for moms to "yell"? No it is not but we have all done it at one time or another. No it does not make us feel good but it happens. Isn't it amazing how quickly our children forgive us when we sit quietly with them and apologize for our lack of patience? Do you not think that the dear and loving Jesus forgives us as readily too?
Is the Lord ever disappointed with us? Never. I believe this with all my heart. I am not a biblical scholar or an author of books that deals with the methods to raise children (I am still learning how to raise mine) but I can say with a certain conviction from the Holy Spirit that Our Lord is never disappointed with us His dear little ones. Especially when we come to Him with a pure docility to imitate His love in our lives. Are we going to make mistakes? Yes. Does the Lord know that we will make mistakes? Yes. Does He love us any the less for the times that we fall? Never. Jesus is always ready and eager to nurture us through the times that we fall and pours Himself out generously to show us this eager love. Believe this with all your heart.
I am sure that you are covered up (as we say in the South) with family responsibilities, but I would strongly recommend a book to you that has been a source of great inspiration and comfort to me. I Believe in Love by Fr. Pere Jean du Coeur de Jesus d' Elbee. This little diamond is a collection of meditations upon the writings of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus. I reread it constantly. I want to quote one sentence to you from this book.
"Jesus, when we ask Him with confidence, repairs not only the evil we have done in ourselves but also the evil we have done around us."
Recently I was speaking at a homeschool conference and quoted this passage to my audience. Immediately I sensed the power of the Spirit as I read the words. I could see that the Holy Spirit was profoundly present in those gathered. In the faces of the parents I could see the devotion that each had for their families and their children. It was powerful to me to witness such devotion. Devotion of this nature comes from a sincerity that understands that we are not perfect but that the Lord loves us and uses our imperfections to His glory if we will allow Him to do so. In His generosity He sends imperfect children to imperfect parents because they are perfectly matched for one another. You are the perfect parent for your children and I believe this because a Perfect and All-knowing Lord has given them to you.
Keep smiling, keep believing in the mercy of Jesus, keep working and above all remain docile and open to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. I know that you probably do not have a lot of free time, but I would strongly suggest that you spend time alone with Jesus in the True Presence. Go to Eucharistic adoration or if that is not possible just sit in the presence of the Tabernacle. Pour yourself out to the Lord. Tell Him everything that is hurting. Pray in this way for 10 minutes and then take a slow deep breath. Now listen for 10 minutes. Jesus is longing to talk to you just as you would talk to one of your children if they were hurting and sad. Tenderly He will speak and let you know how much He loves you and how He can help.
This summer I am speaking at conferences about parenting. My message is not at all intellectual but I believe it comes from the Holy Spirit. My message comes from the Lord. He told me to tell everyone that hears me speak, how very much He loves them.
You are the Lord's dearest daughter and He loves you dearly.
Jesus, I would ask for a special and generous blessing upon this dear mother. Lord, she has poured herself out for her dear family and finds that she feels stressed and sad at times. Jesus, please send persons into her life today that will give her the confirmation of Your great love for her. I pray that those persons who love her are making certain that she is getting enough rest and nourishing food to eat. I ask for the repose of the soul of her dear father-in-law and that he now resides with You, Lord, in Paradise. Please watch over this man's wife as she spends her final days in this vale of tears. We long for the day when we shall all be reunited in the place You have lovingly prepared. Your promise to us is real and secure. Praise You, Lord, for Your love. St. Theresa, pray for us.
Sending out a prayer,