Don't we all want to be better mothers? But, what is better? More patient? More attentive? More unruffled? Well, fill in the blank. We all have our distinct characteristics that need to be improved. I know that right now my entire gang is misbehaving, from age five to 17 and three-quarters. They have too-much-unstructured-time syndrome. They have too much screen time. They have too much snack time. They have too much of mom-says-get-out-of-her-hair time.
And their mother needs to make more prayer time. I do believe that prayer changes things. Jesus asks for us to "pray without ceasing," and I think that mothers need to do this more than the most holy. After all, don't we have the toughest job on earth? (Mortimer J. Adler, Ph.D. says so -- no idea who he is, but if you Google "toughest job on earth," his essay on parenting is the third hit.) The bringing of these young souls to God without first killing them is by far the most patience-testing job on earth. World leaders would crack in some of the situations mothers find themselves in.
And if just mother and child weren't enough to make each other crazy, we have all of those outside issues to deal with -- peer pressure (mother's and child's), pornography, drugs and alcohol, violence, television, etc. We'd be better off by ourselves in a cave most days.
I certainly don't have any easy solutions (sorry if you got this far looking for one). Just pray without ceasing. Let every moment, difficult and tolerable, bring a prayer to your heart and mind. And those really difficult moments -- well, offer them up for the poor souls in purgatory. They surely do appreciate your struggles.
And if all else fails, just kiss the babies -- young and old, big and little -- kiss and hug and love them. Because before you know it, they will be asking you for advice with their own children. And you can say, "Just love them. And pray without ceasing."
St. Monica is the patron saint of mothers and I particularly love this Novena Prayer. But don't just pray it for nine days. Pray it for the next nine years.
Novena of Saint Monica
Exemplary Mother of the Great Augustine,
you perseveringly pursued your wayward son,
not with wild threats but with prayerful cries to heaven.
Intercede for all mothers in our day
so that they may learn to draw their children to God.
Teach them how to remain close to their children,
even the prodigal sons and daughters who have sadly gone astray.
Dear St. Monica, troubled wife and mother,
Many sorrows pierced your heart during your lifetime.
Yet you never despaired or lost faith.
With confidence, persistence and profound faith,
you prayed daily for the conversion of your beloved husband, Patricius,
and your beloved son, Augustine.
Grant me that same fortitude, patience and trust in the Lord. Intercede for me, dear St. Monica, for (mention your petition here)
and grant me the grace to accept his will in all things, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.