"Mom, can you check my bum? I have these weird bumps."
"That's dried poop. Please don't scratch it. Head to the bathroom."The battle my family has waged against a nasty stomach bug has left loads of laundry, dirty floors, stinky garbage, and discarded meals, all adding to the craziness of trying to finish up my renewal process for my National Board Teaching certificate during a super intense time at school with more responsibilities than usual.
One of those weeks, where I'm reminded that the sacrifice of motherhood is one opportunity I have to practice the self-denying love of Christ. All I can do is take a deep breath and pray for mercy and strength.
The last year and a half, The Ascetic Lives of Mothers: A prayer book for Orthodox Moms has become one of my go-to prayer books, helping me put my thoughts and feelings into words to pray during times like these. Though it should be entitled "The Ascetic Lives of Women: A prayer book". It is full of encouraging scripture and stories of women of faith with themes that transcend the realm of motherhood such as anxiety, depression, financial strain, enemies, pride, forgiveness, and safety. I've adapted the prayers for situations with my siblings, co-workers, and my husband and many times through them I have found calm and focus as I poured out my heart.
When I woke up this morning, a prayer shared at a women's retreat by a favorite blogger, Molly Sabourin, came to mind and seemed fitting for Mother's Day:
O heavenly Father, make me a better parent. Teach me to understand my children, to listen patiently to what they have to say, and to answer all their questions kindly. Keep me from interrupting them or contradicting them. Make me as courteous to them as I would have them be to me. Forbid that I should ever laugh at their mistakes or resort to shame or ridicule when they displease me. May I never punish them for my own selfish satisfaction or to show my power. Let me not tempt my children to lie or steal. And guide me hour by hour that I may demonstrate by all that I say and do that honesty produces happiness. Reduce, I pray, the meanness in me. And when I'm out of sorts, help me, o Lord, to hold my tongue. May I ever be mindful that my children are children and I should not expect from them the judgement of adults. Let me not rob them of the opportunity to wait on themselves and to make decisions. Bless me with the bigness to grant them all their reasonable requests and the courage to deny them privileges I know will do them harm. Make me fair and just and kind and fit, o Lord to be loved and respected and imitated by my children. Amen.
Be encouraged, new mother, and do not lose heart, seasoned mother, or think that the trials you are facing in your calling will disqualify you from the prize. Pray for patience, mother-to-be, for the Lord knows the desires of your heart. Pray with faith, grandmother; approach the throne room of Christ, dear godmother, for the children you have been entrusted with. Dear Women, the Lord Himself holds your hand and wants you to succeed through His love, by the power of His Cross, through the prayers of His holy Mother and all the saints. *
Lord, have mercy on us all.
*Adapted from The Ascetic Lives of Mothers