[caption id="attachment_172014" align="aligncenter" width="1180"] Image: Pixabay.com (2017), CC0/PD[/caption]
Dear Little Mama,
I know at least some of how you feel. Things are hard, but you don’t want to complain. After all, so many people around the world have it so much worse. You are trying to be cheerful and upbeat for your children. You are trying to stay grateful and positive in your own heart.
But part of you is getting tired, isn’t it? A big part of you wishes you were a child yourself and didn’t have to function as an adult right now.
People ask how you are doing, and what is there to say? You are fine ... and you aren’t fine. This day is more or less like the last. You are glad to be home with your children safe beside you ... and you are also missing the freedom of going somewhere -- anywhere -- to grab some time and thinking space alone.
You know it’s no big deal to give up the little things you used to do to treat yourself, and yet you miss them. You miss going to the second-hand store to browse treasures for yourself and your family. You miss the occasional cup of coffee grabbed with a friend you hadn’t seen in a while.
Every now and then someone drops something off on your porch or you run into someone while you are on a walk, and your heart leaps with joy. But the next second, you instinctively take a step back in order to make sure there is enough space between you, and with that physical act, the openness of your soul closes a little too. It’s all platitudes from then on: you’re doing fine. You’re glad the weather is better too. Yes, you are keeping up with school.
What you really want to say is that you miss the world. You miss the innocence of not worrying about whether you are standing six feet away. You are tired of trying to read faces hidden behind a mask, and you are tired of wearing one yourself. You are angry that suddenly seeing your aging parents becomes an act fraught with anxiety. You’re so disappointed that your child had to have her birthday party on Zoom, and you are sad that your son couldn’t play the league sport he loves and seems made to play.
You miss the smell of your church, and when you stop in to pray, you remember to use your sleeve to open the door, shove your hands in your pockets, and never take them out the entire time you are there. There is blue tape marking off every other pew, and computer-printed signs telling you which door to enter and which to exit. It’s like the Lord Himself has been quarantined. You understand it, but you grieve the loss. Even this place of refuge is no shelter. Even this, your most fundamental home, no longer feels quite like home.
But you don’t want to complain. “First world problems,” you jokingly text your friend. And they are, of course. You know it. I do too. And yet -- and yet -- if we were honest, wouldn’t we admit that while we are fine, we also hurt? I am fine, and I hurt. I miss you, and I am wary of being too close to you. I love my family, and they drive me nuts. I have the time to do anything, and I do nothing. I pray, and I am empty.
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I am convinced that we don’t have words. At least I don’t. I have tried, and you’ve seen how I have fallen short. But there is One who prays a prayer beyond words. He is the Holy Spirit. We don’t need words to pray when we rely on Him. Sit with Our Lord and let His Spirit pray within you. Let Him sort out all of these groanings within you and present them to the Lord.
The older I get, the more I realize that the most important thing we can do is to let ourselves be loved by God. Go to Him with this tangle of emotions and concerns and let His love -- and ultimately, His prayer -- bathe you.
Copyright 2020 Amanda Woodiel
About the Author
Amanda Woodiel is a Catholic convert, a mother to five children ages 11 to 3, a slipshod housekeeper, an enamored wife, and a “good enough” homeschooler who believes that the circumstances of her life -- both good and bad -- are pregnant with grace. She leads a moms' group at her parish that focuses on simple and meaningful ways to live the liturgical year at home. Amanda blogs at In a Place of Grace.