The other day, I asked some friends how they balance and schedule their day. Sometimes I feel as if I can just find the right schedule, everything in my house will be clean and run smoothly, my children will take beautifully long naps while I write papers and meet deadlines and sew and pray and fill my mind with good books. If I can compartmentalize my life, setting certain times aside for my husband, the kids, and my personal pursuits, I will have achieved that elusive balance that everyone seems to desire. I write up the perfect schedule, promise myself I will follow it strictly, get ready to check something off my to-do list and… the baby cries.
The truth is? There really is no such thing as “balance”. Oh, we can and should try to have our routines and fulfill our obligations. But life does not always fit into neat little blocks on the calendar. It is often messy and uncomfortable. As soon as we think we’ve got it all figured out, life throws us a curveball. Our families try to juggle a million different things: school, work, social commitments, our small business idea, our blogs, home improvement projects, extracurricular activities, meals, laundry, clean bathrooms, crafts, time with our spouse, playing with our children. We hear the news and gasp at the immorality in the world. We listen to our neighbor unburden her soul as we sympathize. We share in the grief of a dear friend. Our anxiety begins to rise as we feel pulled, strained, like butter scraped over too much bread. There are only so many hours in the day, but there are more obligations and worries and stresses than those hours can comfortably hold. And the baby cries.
It is easy to get caught up in the commotion, the to-do list. We become frustrated because we have so much to do, our hearts are already so anxious, and we have to stop yet again to feed or rock this sweet little bundle who woke us 7 times last night. But that frustration, that feeling inconvenienced? So worthless. Not from God. Because nothing in the world matters as much to us right now as nurturing that little soul.
Mothers: those babies are our ticket to heaven. They help us grow in charity, patience, fortitude, temperance. They force us to evaluate our priorities, to slow down and hear what God is really asking of us. They cause us abandon our self-love and sacrifice for another. They soften our hearts and make us more compassionate. They are the antidote to our restlessness. Instead of seeing the crying baby as a deterrent from what we should be doing, we should see the crying baby as God telling us, “Slow down. THIS is what you are meant to be doing right now.” And as those babies grow, and turn into needy toddlers, teenagers who just need a listening ear? Slow down. Hug. Listen. This is what you are meant to be doing.
Even Mary, the perfect woman, was not immune to being affected by the stresses of the world around her. Simeon prophesied that a sword would pierce her heart. She was forced to flee to a foreign land while one of the most powerful men in the world hunted her Son. She knew exactly what evil would eventually befall her beautiful Child; and yet her soul remained at peace. She continued on serenely, trusting in God’s plan of redemption. Instead of worrying about the future, she took one day at a time, living a quiet life while relishing in the care of her Baby.
So often, we prioritize things over people. Let’s not make people the inconvenience, especially the little people entrusted to our care. Today, I will not allow myself to be frustrated if my grand plans are derailed. If that sweet baby needs to be held for 2 hours and we end up having PB&J for dinner, I will rest peacefully tonight knowing that I did my best caring for “the least of these.” I will remember that it’s not the awards or praise of others or the perfectly clean house that will get me to heaven, but my surrender to God’s Will. And I surrender.
“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.” ~ Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta