Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil 4:6-7



Monday, March 24, 2014

All about a mother's heart


I didn't know what I was going to call this post, because it was just a thought. Really, just one thought, all about a mother's heart. 

It's been a week since I blogged last and that is getting to be a habit. It's not that I don't have anything to say, it's that old "if you can't say something nice" thing. But there's a line from Steel Magnolias that I always loved, "If you can't say something nice, come sit by me."

It seems like every week is real penance these days. Yes, it's Lent, but it's also life. Life with a teen. I know every family doesn't experience teen angst amongst the children, and if you are one of them, get down on your knees and praise God, and thank Him for His infinite mercy. But, I think most every mother, even if her teens are really good kids, has her heart broken every now and again. Ginny, at Small Things, really struck a nerve in her post last week.

She said, "There comes a day when you realize that parenthood is going to break your heart, again and again."

Oh, boy, does it ever. I have "chatted" with Ginny about that fact. And the fact that you just don't realize how badly your heart can break until it is broken. It hits you like a Mack truck.

Since I have been a mother, at least prior to the last year or so, my heartbreak was limited to a few really devastating times. In the last year, however, my heart is breaking on a rather regular basis.

Our hearts, fragile as a robins' eggs, break so easily, I think, because these little people that God gives us, that we give birth to, and feed, and change their diapers thousands of time, and teach to walk and talk...we think they are pretty close to perfect. God gives them to us when they are so close to perfection, and when they are helpless, and they worm their way right into our hearts just moments after we see their perfect little faces, or even months before. 



God does that for a reason, as I'm sure you know. So that we grow to love them so very much our hearts could burst, and then one day, our hearts do burst. Because those perfect little beings are not perfect. We learn, one awful day that they are human and they are weak, and they will fall. And we have to watch them fall. Just as Our Lord fell with the cross, three times, and His wonderful mother watched. Except he fell from our sins, not his own human weakness. 

I remember when the two oldest boys were little, and I had an infant and a two-year-old, and most of the time I was in love with life and these two precious souls, but some times I thought, "Wow, this is hard work." And I truly had no idea. I don't think anyone knows how hard mothering can be until you're on your knees begging God to please, please, please fix things. Now, I am one of those "older women" who says, "Enjoy them while they are little, when they are so easy to just love. All they want is love and you can fix their problems, and they are all safe in bed at night, and you can rest your head and know that everything is ok." When someone tells you that, just believe them, because they know. And you might be cocky and think, "Mine won't turn out that way" but really, you just don't know. The best parents can raise the worst kids, and mine aren't even close to the worst kids, but they still break my heart.


At my grandma's funeral recently, I saw a man and woman from my childhood, the mother a women who had her heart broken over and over again, and she is one of the most wonderful women I have ever known. She did things right, but, still, her children broke her heart. I remember when my mother told me that her son, an older teen at the time, struck her, and I thought that was the worst thing a child could do to his mother. I still think it is one of the worst things a child can do, but I realize now that a child can pierce your heart with a sword and never lay a finger on you. When I hugged her at the funeral, after not seeing her for many years, I realized she was one of those women who knew, who would tell you just to love them when they are little, when love fixes every little problem. She knew that the peace you feel when they are under your roof at night, all tucked in their beds, that is a peace you will not know forever.

I don't have an answer to the problem's of a mother's heart, so I guess this post is really of no great help to you. I think one of the greatest difficulties in having a large family is that when the older children are breaking your heart, you have the younger ones to love, but you know they will break your heart at some point, as well. A friend texted me last week to tell me how hard it is to raise teenage boys these days. Yes, it is. But this friend had a baby and a preschooler to go home to, to love, to appreciate their perfection at this moment. I think that's a real bonus. I have only raised boys to their teen years thus far, and Faith is right on the cusp. I can't say I am feeling very brave about entering the teen years with her. I can see now why younger children get away with more. You're just worn out by the time they get to the "age of trouble."

can offer one solution, or if not a solution, because really there is no true solution, a help...Our Lord's Mother. She watched her son fall, she held His blessed face in her hands and saw His agony. She stood at the foot of the cross and watched Him die. How she did not die herself, well, only God knows, because sometimes heartbreak feels like it could just bring you to your last breath. So when I feel like my last breath is imminent, I go to His mother. Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for us.


















35 comments:

  1. I'm glad you moms with teens are writing so honestly about this to remind us whose kids' biggest problems are still that they're picky about what they eat, to just love them now, pickiness and all!

    My brother was three years older than me, and I watched him break my parents' hearts again and again, and I think my parents are pretty great! I was grateful for that though - to know that it is a definite possibility, maybe a probability, that at least one of your kids is going to break your heart. It is hard to fathom while they're all still so young. But thank you for sharing. You ladies give me courage!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for stopping in your day to comment, Anne. Just knowing I don't sound like an old ranting woman makes me happy. :-)
      Pax,
      Barbara

      Delete
    2. This post and topic has been staying with me, and I wanted to come back and say 1. I'm pretty sure I broke my parents' hearts too at least once or twice (even though I was the "good" kid) and 2. even though my parents and my brother still don't see eye to eye about everything, they definitely have a nice relationship now and have pretty much since he moved out of the house, so there's hope!!

      Delete
    3. Thank you for the glimmer of hope. Without hope...I just can't imagine.

      Delete
  2. Interestingly, my husband and I were laying in bed last night talking about this. Right now the biggest thing we are dealing with in our house is kids stealing bananas (and the fact that most of my children are deaf ;))

    That's pretty small if you think about it. I know someday that the problems will be bigger and I hope to always remember to turn to Our Lady to help them (and me.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beth,
      I think if our children know we are watching what they do (steal bananas -- too funny) we are slightly ahead in the game (the game of life). But a day will come when they get ahead, and then you hit the floor on your knees. God bless you, and YES, turn to Mary.

      Pax,
      Barbara

      Delete
  3. Barbara, I can relate to all of what you've written. About the not blogging because it might not be 'nice' (that's why I stopped for so long. And about having an 18mo, how he is such a joy, but that he'll grow up. Eventually there is a last child. Regardless of what or how often you write, you are a source of encouragement to me. I'm so grateful I found your blog!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Suzanne, for your kindness.

      Delete
  4. Oh, I teared up through this whole dang thing. All of it true. All of it heart felt by all of us mamas. (((((big hugs)))) I know even my littlest sweet little Simeon, will break my heart...he is a stubborn one and because of this post, I'm sure going to love that he will only let mama dress him, put his shoes on, put his coat on, carry him to the van, buckle him in...no one else can do it, if they do, he'll scream for a really long time. I'm going to be thankful that he has a hard time sharing mama...even though his big sister wants to sit on my lap too. I'm going to hug my littles a little more today because of this post.

    Thank you Barbara.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please do just love that little stinker, and his big sister. Even when they fight, and scream and make messes. Their fights don't mean they feel hate, and their messes can all be cleaned up.

      Delete
  5. My godfather, our family doctor who passed away years ago, use to tell my Mom that "when they are little, they step on your toes. When they are bigger, they step on your heart." I loved your honesty and candor in your post. And you solution in the last paragraph, I loved it. Hugs to you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Patty, for your kindness and support. I think that God invented knee replacements because as we get older we spend a lot more time on them!

      Delete
  6. I was really struck by that post by Ginny. My father in-law's mother (she had 13) used to say, "When they're little they're little problems. When they're big, they're big problems." Yes, indeed. sigh. I now have 3 teenagers. Two boys and one girl. Yes, I have had my heart broken. Last year was was awful. I was so upset by two of my children that I went through horrible anxiety and depression. I felt sick all of the time and had no appetite. The only other time I've experienced this is when my beloved grandmother was dying/passed away. I would wake up to every day and dread it. A few times I literally crawled to my bathroom and prayed to St. Anne. It's gotten a bit better, but not much. The damage is done, and then there are always developing/ongoing problems…Now I'm dealing with anxiety over the fact that I still have 6 more to go through and I've barely begun with the first three. *whimper*

    Jesus, I trust in Thee!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kelly,
      It is not difficult for anxiety to overwhelm us when our children worry us. I'm sure that trip to the ER last week had a great deal to do with child-induced anxiety, even though I couldn't pinpoint it at the time. I don't want my children to worry about my health, but I have been pointing out instances where their selfish behavior makes me anxious. They need to know their behavior affects those around them. And they need to see us turn to God to lean on Him. God bless you in the years to come.

      Delete
  7. Btw, today was one of those mornings that was a crawl-to-the-bathroom days. I grasped on to anything, any thought that would cheer me. I settled upon baking. Yes, baking makes me happy. Eating does, too, of course, but the actually process of baking/cooking makes me happy. So guess what I did? I went looking for that comforting fall coffeecake that you posted a while back; Pumpkin Coffeecake. Yummy!

    Thank you, Barbara, for the cheap therapy. ;) xo

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh, Barbara. My heart is breaking too. My daughter is causing much angst and sorrow. I am sending you a hug and a thank you for writing this post. I have not written much from the heart on my blog lately. It is too hard.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know you must be feeling more angst than I, Jenny, so far away. It was hard to write this. Emotions are raw, but I knew my friends would understand.

      Delete
  9. Oh my gosh, YES! Yes, yes, yes. I am having a hard, hard time negotiating the teenage years and the baby years together. The good side is that I have the babies to cuddle and to remind me that I used to fawn over the teenagers that way. The less-bright side . . . well, you know all about it. I am overwhelmed by the sheer physical work of the babies, but I am crushed sometimes by the mental/emotional work of teens.
    Just yesterday, I had to have discussions that ranged from potty training to not lying to your parents to "sexting." I mean, really!
    It's also why, in the off chance that I might ever publish a blog post, I usually never talk about the big kids.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Also, you are so completely correct that you can just squash all this by being a "good" parent. Free will is absolute, and when you congratulate yourself for being such a "good" parent, just remember that there is another "good" parent out there whose heart is absolutely broken by the choices her children have made. Pray for the kids and pray for the strength to get through whatever may come.

      Delete
    2. Ugh, I meant to write "you CAN'T just squash . . ."
      No coffee yet . . . :)

      Delete
    3. Yes, you certainly have all the ages. Babies and toddlers are exhausting, and I hope I did not belittle that. But, in your heart, you can have peace when they are babies. But, you have the exhaustion and the angst of the mother's heart, Aimee. There's a special place in heaven for mothers like you, and others who commented above.

      Delete
  10. I hope all is well with you, dear. You know, my phone is always on. ;-) I can relate, too. We're in a lull right now, (which I know enough to be extremely grateful for!) but my heart aches for a dear friend. Oh, and the other novena for help is the 31 Day St. Joseph Novena. It's amazing, though I'm not sure they know what a "novena" is. ;-) http://www.101foundation.com/catalog/index.php?dispatch=products.view&product_id=554

    What a lot of gorgeous artwork to go with this post. It's perfect.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good to hear you can relate. I think sometimes large families look like their mere largeness alone fixed all the problems the rest of us have. I have no idea why, it just does. I feel like medium-sized families have some of the problems large families and small families do with few of the benefits.

      Delete
  11. i wrote a long (and I am sure encouraging and brilliant) comment yesterday, and it wouldn't post.

    so....the condensed version???

    give them to God
    we just have to give them to God
    every second of every day.

    come to CT and we can have coffee and lift each other up and pray together and then break out the wine!!! okay????
    xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sorry blogger ate your comment. I'm sure it WAS brilliant. ;-)

      I certainly try to give it to God. It's just that whole "God helps those who help themselves" thing that has me wondering which part is my responsibility. Ya know? So I end up taking it back, and giving it again, and taking it back...

      Delete
  12. One consolation is that this pain can be offered to Our Lord, united with His passion, in reparation for sins, for conversion of sinners, for grace and strength, for an increase in virtue. All this exquisite, excruciating, heart rending pain is real pain and we can curl up and die with it or offer it all to Him in love and trust. He knows how it hurts our hearts, and He receives the offering of our sufferings just as He does of physical bodily pain. Not a single tear is ever shed in vain, but all can be an offering to Him.
    And as you said, Our Lady is always here for us.
    'The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and those who are crushed in spirit He saves.'
    'Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.'
    xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh wise woman. Can you come and live with me and remind me to be a God daughter to our Father? I try to unite my suffering to His, but then I usually just get so wrapped up in suffering. But thank you for the reminder. Maybe I need heavy chains around my waist to remind me. Or a crown of thorns.

      Pax,
      B

      Delete
  13. I let my son see my tears. I tell him he breaks my heart. usually his fathers sees that and tells him to apologize to me.
    I just hope they get through the teens alive.
    they say trust in God and pray....but we are up against so much in this culture. it is a tough one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Christine, I don't hold back my emotions either, but these kids (at least mine) don't get it!. They might apologize, but heartfelt? um, probably not. These are really hard times.

      Delete
  14. That was so beautiful, Barbara! And so needed. I hope it gave some peace, some relief just writing it, because I know it has touched the hearts of many, many moms. You are a blessing!! I could write more, but I can't share specifics in comments. Please know that this touched me very deeply, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart that you posted this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. <3 to you, Sarah. Thank you for your really, really lovely note in the mail.

      Delete
  15. What a beautiful and heart-wrenching post, Barbara. I have never said so many Memorae's as when my sons entered the teen years (two are there now, one to go). And I constantly offer them up to the Lord, placing them in His hands, as they are His.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Mary Undoer of Knots novena is a real prayer for mothers of teens. The words just bring me to me knees (and to tears) because they say just exactly what is in my heart. I read, also, that Pope Francis has chosen Mary Undoer of Knots as his favorite Marian devotions. She is the Mother for our times!

      Delete

I appreciate your comments -- sometimes I feel like I'm talking to myself!