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"Lent is a lot like motherhood" by Andrea Bear (CatholicMom.com) Image credit: Pixabay.com (2013), CC0/PD[/caption] Lent has arrived and as a portion of our faith we undertake prayer, fasting, and almsgiving for 40 days. Some Catholics look at this time of year as a major sacrifice and don’t necessarily go into it with feelings of joy. We sometimes can look at certain aspects of motherhood in the same way. Lent and motherhood have a lot of similarities.
  • Lent requires fasting. Motherhood requires sacrificing or “giving up” parts of ourselves.
  • Lent requires more devotion to prayer. In motherhood we pray for our children, or pray we don’t lose our tempers.
  • Lent is about almsgiving. Motherhood is about giving of our time, talents, and treasure.
What often gets overlooked in both areas is that Lent and motherhood can have a great amount of joy even in the sacrifice, the devotion and the giving. Now please don’t assume that I look at Lent or motherhood as primarily negative. Motherhood is a beautiful blessing and I find great joy in being a mother to three beautiful girls, but there are those not-so-great moments where we feel less than whole, we doubt our own abilities, or we just feel total fatigue and it’s in those moments we can often reveal our less than “motherly” selves. Similarly, Lent is a time where we make those extra intents to remind ourselves of the sacrifices that Jesus made for us; it’s a time for us to draw closer to God. Yet in our sacrifices, we can sometimes feel less than perfect or fall short in our commitments or efforts. So how can we as Christians and mothers, do our best knowing that we are not perfect in our efforts and how can we do so with a positive attitude? There will always be those hard moments in both motherhood and in Lent, but if we choose to approach them with love, then we can only draw closer to Jesus in both areas even in the imperfect. Lent is a time of year that reminds us of our humaneness, or less than seamless selves. We make mistakes, we won’t always get it right, but God recognizes our efforts, and like motherhood our families will be there to remind us they love us even in our not-so-great moments. So why not approach the two with the same mindset? Why not make our purpose in Lent similar to our purpose in motherhood? Rather than trying to give up chocolate or stop being a mom (both impractical) maybe we can incorporate the two together. Lent and Motherhood don’t have to be agonizing but they should have meaning. Let’s be intentional in motherhood and lent. Below are some ideas of  how we can practice prayer, fasting, and almsgiving beyond the traditional manner  and  incorporate the daily aspects of motherhood.
  1. Give up bad attitudes. When I’m in a bad mood my family recognizes it immediately and it changes the scene of our home.  It’s not a sin to feel angry or upset but the action that comes along with it can lead to less than Godly behavior. For Lent give up your reaction to less than appealing situations of motherhood. Don’t scream when the cheerios spill all over the ground; rather, be grateful that your kid has more than enough food to eat. Changing the way we react to situations can have a very powerful effect. (fasting)
  2. Pray in the everyday. Praying during your day-to day task is both a blessing and a new opportunity for growth. Try to incorporate prayer while serving your motherhood vocation or in ways that you might already use your time. I pray the Rosary while walking the neighborhood for exercise or on mini trips with my family, or while I’m making dinner. What better way to practice motherhood than to ask for the Blessed Mother’s intercession? (prayer)
  3. Give your time. While almsgiving certainly suggest giving monetarily, it can also be a time of giving of oneself. Give some of your attention to an activity your kids enjoy. Put your phone down and give your ear to your child and listen to what has gone on in their day. (almsgiving & fasting)
  4. Give up reluctance. The pile of laundry in my living room has been siting for a solid two weeks as clothes are picked through and more is added to the pile. It’s easy for me to look at laundry as a tedious chore, but if I approach it with love, then my sacrifice of doing household chores is not a sacrifice but a gift to pay forward to my family. (fasting)
  5. Give thanks. As mothers we already give of ourselves. Do we need to give more? Recognize that your gifts of motherhood are part of the role God destined for you. Thank God for your role as a mother. (almsgiving)
  6. Read the Bible with your family. Instead of watching TV one night, Share a story in the Gospel about Jesus’ life. Read with your children. (prayer & fasting)
  7. Ask for God’s guidance. We don’t just pray during Lent, rather we should all the time, yet during this season, ask for the Holy Spirit’s direction to support our motherly vocation. (prayer)
  8. Abstain from false talk or gossip. As mom’s being centered around conversations of “hearsay” offers temptations of gossip and keeping up with the latest news.” Give up the desire to know what others are doing/not doing. (fasting)
  9. Give up unhealthy habits. Get rest, eat healthy, move your body. Abstaining from things that hinder our self-care can be a form of fasting. I’ve made a commitment to exercise more during this Lent. That may not seem like a traditional Lenten practice but for me taking the time means giving up my time from something else. (fasting)
  10. Ask your children what they can find in service. Take them to a place where they can volunteer like a homeless shelter or cleaning the pews in the church. Write letters to each other of thanksgiving, giving of oneself in service provides abundant blessings and joy. (almsgiving)
  11. Donate. Have your kids clean out their rooms and donate unused toys or clothes to those in need. As a parent we can show them through service we are giving not just monetarily but in many aspects. (almsgiving)
  12. Pray for your family. You may do this already, but during Lent offer up a special prayer for them or say a special devotion or Rosary. (prayer)
What are some ways you can practice joyful motherhood in Lent? Or joyful Lent in motherhood? Share your ideas or comments.
Copyright 2020 Andrea Bear