Shortly after the morning of toddler meltdowns, I attended spiritual direction with a priest friend. Through tears, I relayed all the ways I was “failing” as a mom. When I finished my litany, Father looked at me, puzzled, and said, “Colleen, did you think you were going to be a perfect parent?” It was a rhetorical question, so I didn’t have the chance to answer out loud, but silently I screamed, Yes! Father could see, after just five minutes of talking with me, that I had set completely unrealistic standards for myself. But I couldn’t see it yet. Failure wasn’t an option to me. I had too much at stake—my pride and ego, for starters, but also the lives of my children. I refused to repeat the generational sin of the past, and it was my job to eradicate that blemish from our family history. A laissez-faire approach to parenting wasn’t going to work. It was get it all right or else. My constant evaluation of my failure to make the parenting grade kept me joyless and frustrated. By the time I had my fourth baby, I became easily angered over random, irrational things and often lashed out at John, our children, or the clerk at the grocery store. Once I calmed down, I had trouble articulating why I was upset in the first place. John and I would have a fight, and, since neither of us had the tools to communicate effectively, we’d walk around the house in stone cold silence for days or even weeks until one of us apologized. I would lose my patience with one of the kids because they did something normal and kid-like, but the fact I lost my patience at all was so devastating to me I couldn’t forgive myself. I would berate myself for my perceived failures—my messy house, my ill-behaved children, my tense marriage—all day, every day. I was overly involved in service work, which did little to renew me personally and left me feeling drained. I was stuck in a series of unhealthy friendships where others didn’t know the real me. I listened to the struggles of everyone else—their marital issues and time management and parenting problems—while my own life was falling apart. I drove myself to keep a perfect house, be a perfect Catholic, look perfect, and maintain perfect familial relationships, and it was all a lie. Nothing was perfect, least of all me. The ruse all came crashing down one day in a moment so profound it would shift and ultimately begin to heal my crippling compulsiveness.While I thoroughly enjoyed the book, what struck me the most was the very end of the book where Colleen shared her Litany of Humility for Parents. It was one of those truly eye opening prayers, and one I need to pray more often. I’ve included a little sample of it below, but to download the entire litany, visit Colleen’s website and subscribe to her newsletter (plus you’ll get more awesome tips and stories for your journey as a Catholic mom and a coupon code for the book.) I’ll admit, it's hard to pray, but it really gets to the heart of the matter.
O Jesus! Meek and humble of heart, Hear me. From the desire to have my children and myself be esteemed as intelligent and accomplished in the eyes of the world, Deliver me, Jesus. From the desire to have a picture-perfect Catholic family, Deliver me, Jesus. From the desire to have it appear as if my family and I have it all together, Deliver me, Jesus. From the desire to protect my children from all pain, Deliver me, Jesus. From the desire to have my family, especially my children, and me praised, Deliver me, Jesus. From the desire to have my family, especially my children, and me preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.(This excerpt from Chapter 1 of Good Enough is Good Enough: Confessions of an Imperfect Catholic Mom is republished with permission of Ave Maria Press.)
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Copyright 2018 Michele Faehnle
About the Author
Michele Faehnle is a wife, mother of 4 and a school nurse. In her free time she enjoys volunteering for the church and is the co-chair of the Columbus Catholic Women’s Conference. She is also the co-author of The Friendship Project, Divine Mercy For Moms, Our Friend Faustina and Pray Fully; Simple Steps to Becoming a Woman of Prayer. Read more of her work at InspireTheFaith.com.