While motherhood is more challenging than Carmen Lappe ever expected, she is grateful for the ways she has grown in faith since becoming a mom.
A recent Saturday morning began surprisingly peacefully. I rose early and made a breakfast casserole for my family, one of my favorite things to do. Once the pan was in the oven, I grabbed my breviary. The glow of the rising sun spilled through our living-room blinds, covering me with warm light as I prayed Morning Prayer. Once the kids were awake and breakfast was served, it became apparent that the peaceful part of the day was over.
“I don’t like this, Mom.”
“Yuck! Do I have to eat all of this?”
Once they were finished, which felt like hours later, I put the dirty dishes and utensils in the dishwasher. That’s when I heard the bickering start.
“I want to watch Blippi,” cried my son.
“No! We’re watching Home Alone!” retorted my daughter.
Back and forth it went until the TV was turned off and both children were separated to cool down. My husband left to run an errand, leaving the kids and me alone. “This will be fine,” I thought. “Everything’s fine.”
As I put the leftover breakfast in the refrigerator in the garage, I suddenly heard a tortured, blood-curdling scream from the house. I ran inside and found the kids in the living room, each with a bag of gummy worms.
“Damien has my bag! That’s my bag!” screamed my daughter, face flushed and tears streaming down her face. I’d had enough.
I yelled. I screamed. I lost my cool.
The candy was thrown away. The kids were sent to the bedrooms, and I retreated to mine. After a few deep breaths, the shame rolled in and the tears came. I called the kids downstairs so I could apologize and attempt to reconcile.
“I’m sorry. I’m trying to get better.”
“It’s okay, Mom,” Gemma replied. “I forgive you. We forgive you. We’ll always forgive you. And look what I brought you!”
She handed me a St. Anthony holy card and said, “I’m giving you this because you lost your temper.”
Now, I have no idea if Gemma knows that St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost articles. While I’ve prayed for his intercession many times, it never occurred to me to ask for his prayers when I feel anger and frustration rising up and my temper is at risk of being lost. Since that day with the kids, I’ve been reflecting on just what it is the Lord—and St. Anthony—are encouraging me to look for, to find in these difficult moments.
As I volley it all around in my head, it suddenly feels clear: this life is hard right now. It’s more challenging than anything I ever expected. It doesn’t look like I thought it would, or like I wanted it to. And therein lies a new kind of grief I’ve never known. As I sit with this grief, I’m learning all over again just how much I cannot do myself. Motherhood, I think, has to start each and every day anew with the recognition that God is God and we are not.
Even though this time in my life doesn’t look like I thought it would, or like I wanted it to, I can’t tell you what I wish it looked like instead. The love I’ve given—and that’s returned to me—since becoming a mom is beautiful beyond all telling. My relationship with the Lord has grown in ways it likely would not have were it not for Gemma and Damien. And the responsibility placed upon my husband and me to get them to heaven is a joy and honor I wouldn’t trade for anything.
Copyright 2023 Carmen Lappe
Images: Canva; holy card photo courtesy of Barb Szyszkiewicz, all rights reserved.
About the Author
Carmen is a wife and mother of two in midwestern Iowa. She has a Master of Arts degree in Sacred Theology and has a special passion for writing about the grace of motherhood. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling with her husband and exploring breweries and baseball stadiums across the country.