Posts tagged ‘Agnes Penny’

September 7, 2011

My Motherhood Birthday

As firmly as I am convinced that pregnancy is as valid an experience of motherhood as care giving post-delivery, I find myself looking back on this last almost-year with Jacob and thinking the journey really began when we saw him face-to-face.


Every day has its ups and downs, and every day has its inevitable surprises, but I can safely say that things have gotten progressively easier over time.  This has less to do with the number of diapers being changed or even how many allergy screenings came back positive.  It has much more to do with how I’ve grown as a mother and as a woman since the doctor showed me a pair of slightly purple feet and told me I had a “beautiful baby boy.”  (And to think, I never even mentioned my appreciation for well-used alliteration.)


Recently a great friend from college met Jacob for the first time. Annie is one of the most thoughtful, most reflective, most intelligent, and kindest people I know. I love having some time to sit down and talk with her. At this meeting—as was to be expected—she asked me something that really got me to think.  She asked what I’d been surprised to learn about myself since I’d become a mother.


My first response was how agile I am with my feet, or rather my toes.  There have been times when I’ve had Jacob in my arms—best when he’s a naked, just-out-of-the-bath Jacob—and needed something off the floor, seeing as most of our lives take place there these days.  Bending down can be complicated, so I’ve learned to pick things up with my toes.  Sometimes I feel like a circus act, but whatever gets the job done!


I gave Annie my answer and we got to talking about something else (I think it was how strangely spaced my toes are, making them apt for retrieving items but also what some might consider good evidence for human evolution from monkeys).  A few minutes later, a less humorous, but more honest answer appealed to me.  I told Annie and the two other girls with us that I’d learned I am not as selfless and charitable as I thought I was.


Just like Jesus says (surprise, surprise), it’s easy to be kind to people you like, in easy situations, and when you’re feeling good. But when you’re exhausted, confused and stressed, and it’s the middle of the night, even when you are only with your best friend/husband and your brand new baby boy, it can be hard to respond to what’s asked of you with love.


I’ve learned how valuable adequate sleep is for me, and not to attempt to make life decisions at four am.  John and I have both learned when it’s most important for him to help me out and in what ways.   I’m certainly not finished learning about myself yet. There’s still a long way to go, but this is a start.


In this past year, I’ve really started to understand what it means that, “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10).  Thanks in large part to Your Vocation of Love by Agnes Penny, I’ve learned to look at the moments I want to explode, yell, cry, or curl up in a ball and disappear as opportunities to serve God.  Those moments when it feels almost impossible to love are the ones that really matter.  So now I am grateful for those moments.  While I can’t say I respond perfectly every time, I am trying.  And for right now, that’s enough.


Motherhood has changed me for the better in ways no other experience could hold a candle to. As we approach Jacob’s birthday, I kind of feel like it’s my own—the anniversary of my birth as a mother.  And that is certainly something worth celebrating.

April 20, 2011

Holy Week: Wednesday

“In so many instances in creation, it pleases God to use the instrumentality of one creature to do good to another, especially in the all-important task of leading souls to Himself.”
Your Vocation of Love by Agnes Penny, p. 155

I remember during our wedding, our priest said that married couples have a major responsibility to help one another to get to Heaven.  This hadn’t struck me with such clarity until I was there, at the altar, in a white dress, and I was so honored to realize I had this opportunity to help my best friend on his way to life with God.

As we settle into married, family life, I recognize ever more occasions to pursue this goal.  There are practical, perhaps obvious things, like saying grace together before meals and the rosary together at night, but there is also the constant opportunity to simply be a good example for one another.  The way we speak to one another, the way we discuss our days and what brought us joy or what frustrated us, even the care we take to dress for Mass on Sundays—in these little things we constantly encourage one another not to be lazy, but rather to be patient, to trust in God.  I know this will be even more important as Jacob gets older as well; we are his first teachers, we set the first example.

There can be a temptation to kind of let it all go at home, but it’s here that we have the greatest responsibility to the people we love the most, the people who have been put in our care.   Whether the people we live with are husbands or wives, mothers or fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, or simply roommates, we have a great and blessed responsibility to them—one that we can hopefully fulfill more readily with the graces we’ve received this Lent.

April 18, 2011

Holy Week: Monday

This year, I have experienced Lent in a whole new way.  Having a child changes everything, they say, and faith is not the least of these.

Whether it’s because I spend more time at home, or because my day-to-day is challenging in a different way than it ever has been before, I’ve found my resolutions much more difficult to keep this year.  My main sacrifices were sweets and The Biggest Loser, but in general I’ve tried to keep away from excess where I can and spend my time more productively each day.  When I find myself wanting to turn to an extra snack for some more energy or a television show to unwind, I’ve tried to point my mind and my heart toward prayer instead.  While it hasn’t been a constant comfort, I have experienced God’s grace in a real way this season, and I am anxiously anticipating Easter to start the celebration of it.

But before we get there, we must journey through Holy Week.  This week, I’ll be posting a series of meditations that I’ve found apply to the intersection of Lenten prayer and motherhood.  I think they are all applicable even to those who are not mothers, and I hope they’ll offer something new to think about during this final push of the season.

Here’s the first, for Monday of Holy Week:

“ . . . [W]e can still place our trust in God if we have prayed to Him earnestly and are sincerely trying to follow His Will.  He cannot ask that we do better than our best. He knows our faults better than we do, yet He still entrusted the souls of our children into our care.”
Your Vocation of Love by Agnes Penny, p. 153

No matter what our positions are in life, God has put us there for a reason:  because we have something to offer.  Whether that task is a job in an office, a volunteer position serving food, or the vocation of motherhood, God wants to use us to accomplish something.  It is of little import whether we feel capable of what we’ve been asked to do—even if that something is having faith in Him.

What matters is that we trust in God, that we pray, and that we believe in God’s promise to hear our prayers. I’ve been surprised this year by how often I’ve heard it preached that this is a season of joy.  Indeed, Lent is not about punishment for sins, but rather about renewing trust in God’s forgiveness, mercy, and love.

%d bloggers like this: