As she watches her children grow up faster than she'd like them to, Michelle Hamel prays for a special kind of motherly wisdom.
Motherhood is always a growing and stretching experience. As a wife, mom, and now grammy, I have are a lot of things to juggle. I’ve been a mom for 30 years (which completely blows my mind when I think about how fast time has gone by!). Each season has brought, and continues to bring, its own set of joys and challenges. With eight children born over a span of 19 years, I’ve gotten to do each of these seasons many, many times. And I can honestly tell you that practice does not make perfect!
Each one of my kids is wired in a unique way with their own needs, strengths and challenges. Some stages of development were incredibly easy with some of my kids, while with others it was a wailing and gnashing of teeth experience. Take potty training as an example. My first child was potty trained so easily at 2.5. Child number two at the same age looked at the potty and screamed, “NO!” Most of my crew were finally ready between 3 and 3.5. My youngest son could care less what we tried to bribe him with to use the potty and finally(!) was potty trained just days before he turned 4. Our son with severe autism wasn’t fully potty trained until around the age of 8 … but we were thrilled that he even reached that milestone! So different. And that’s just one small stage of development!
We’ve had a lot of family changes over the last four years. Four college graduations, two grad-school graduations, three marriages, three grandsons, a granddaughter arriving next month, and another grandson arriving in August. My special needs son became an adult, which has meant lots of paperwork and a new road to navigate. Another child started college. My youngest son became an official teenager, and my baby girl is no longer a baby but the “pre-teeniest preteen” we have ever had.
My mind struggles to keep up with the pace of these big changes. I find myself feeling really nostalgic. We drive by somewhere that we have gone as a family, or one of my toddler grandsons does something that reminds me of their daddies at their age, and I can hear and feel echoes of the past with my own kids’ small voices and mischievous antics. It reminds me of how fleeting this one life that I’ve been blessed with is and it makes me want to make the most of each moment. Because we have a big family, it was easy to console myself as my kids got older because there were always so many younger kiddos still around. But now that my youngest two are quickly slipping out of childhood, I’m doing a lot of “lasts” and the grieving is real.
A thousand years in your eyes are merely a day gone by. Teach us to count our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart. (Psalm 90:4, 12)
What really matters in this one life that God has given me? What’s the best use of my time and energy each and every single day? I need a heart of wisdom to remember that this world is fleeting and what’s most important are the family and friends that God has given me to love. I need a heart of wisdom to not get bogged down in the unimportant details of life that tear me away from the relationships that really matter. Everything in this life is passing except for the souls of my loved ones that will live eternally, but I’m not sure that my thoughts and actions always reflect that truth. I certainly have lots of room for improvement!
Thankfully, God’s grace and mercy are new every day for me and for you. Each day is an opportunity to start over no matter how badly the day before went! Motherhood is a challenge in endurance as each new stage of our children’s lives gives us the opportunity (i.e., forces us) to stretch and grow. It’s in no way easy! This is why communities like Catholic Mom are so important.
We all need encouragement and friendship in the challenging moments of motherhood. I think St. Paul’s words make for a really great battle cry for moms (and a good ending for this blog post):
Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. Your every act should be done with love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)
Copyright 2023 Michelle Hamel
Images: photo of stones copyright 2023 LovePeacePrayers.com, all rights reserved, used with permission; all others Canva
About the Author
Michelle is a wife, mom of eight, and grammy of 3 (with more on the way!). She spends her time reading, writing, and searching for good recipes to cook for her growing family. Her favorite things to do include spending quiet time in Adoration, shopping for baby clothes, and planning vacations. She loves to write about topics that feel God-inspired in order to encourage and comfort women. Michelle blogs at Normal Chaos.