When I had the chance to review Sarah Reinard’s book, A Catholic Mother’s Companion to Pregnancy, I have to admit, my first thought was not terribly kind.
Oh, great, I thought. I have to read yet another book from some perfect Catholic mom about how holy and great motherhood is and if I just say enough Rosaries, I too can become joyful in the midst of changing diapers and cleaning up puke.
And strangely, Sarah’s book…
Well, it kind of did that.
But in an incredible way.
Take her description on the less glamorous moments motherhood, for example:
It’s heavy, it’s annoying, and it’s unwanted. Whether it’s a sick child, a fussy baby, or a load of pukey laundry, it’s a cross…Whatever your cross is–the constant cross and the current cross–it’s not easy to carry…We each carry our own cross, but we are not alone.”
A Catholic mother who was being real? Who admits, in in her book, that she loves her sleep, isn’t really a baby person, and finds parts of pregnancy as annoying as I do?
I am just not someone to read a fluffy, shiny book on how great motherhood is. It’s just not my style. Probably because I am selfish and whiny, but I find being a mom downright hard.
And in this book, Sarah admits that. She totally and completely admits that.
But she also provides, in a beautiful and easy way, how we can all take each and every difficult moment of pregnancy and motherhood and turn it into something more.
There is nothing extravagant. No hours and hours of rigorous spiritual exercise. Just simple approaches, like suggestions for a prayer or two in the morning and evenings, apps (if you are cool enough to own a smartphone. I am not.) that we can use to pray a favorite prayer in those moments when you are literally too tired to form the words.
And the constant, gentle reminder that all of it? Well, it’s supposed to be hard.
From the moment we see those two blue lines, pregnancy teaches us, as Sarah describes, the opportunity for “dying to self.” I’m sure I don’t have to point out exactly who “dying to self” is a direct imitation of (*coughJesuscough*), but I think that’s the part of pregnancy and motherhood that I find so darn hard. It’s not easy to learn to put everyone and their brother (in my case, this is now literal!) first.
But Sarah’s book showed me, that fighting it tooth and nail and complaining every step of the way or writing blog posts about it when we just can’t take it anymore (ahem), aren’t always the best approaches to take. In fact, they can make us even more miserable, expounding all our energy on how we wish it could just be easier. Because that’s pointless. Accept it, even thank God for it and the lessons we can learn from it, and move on.
And last night, right smack dab in in the middle of writing this glowing little review, I had the chance (because God works that way, doesn’t he? Smarty pants) to put my words into action.
After leaving Ben to tuck the kids into bed around 9:30 pm, I headed downstairs to indulge in my secret time–walking on my treadmill at the lowest possible speed setting and watching Hulu.com with occasional Twitter breaks to talk about Oreos.
After about an hour of my “workout,” I heard the distinct sounds of my two-hundred and then-some pound husband running upstairs. Upon climbing the stairs from the basement to investigate, I found a disturbing scene:
Ada screaming in the shower as Ben hosed her down and on her bed/floor/that guard rail thing on her bed, was more puke than I have ever seen in my life. I just stared at it for a few minutes, unsure of how on earth I would ever clean it up. I literally didn’t even know where to start, there was so much of it.
But I did, of course. I cleaned it up and scrubbed the floor and changed the bed and pulled off that guard rail thing with the 10,000 holes that will now have petrified puke on them forever because it’s impossible to clean that thing off and we got Ada tucked back into bed.
And 45 minutes later, we did it all over again.
And then two hours later, again.
And then an hour later, Mya peed the bed.
And then Jacob woke up.
And some point in the night, as I cradled Ada and waited for Ben to switch the laundry for the 10th time, I reverted right back into my old ways of thinking.
Why in the world does it have to be like this? I thought despairingly. Why is having kids so hard? Why did we even have kids again? No more kids of us, I can’t take anymore of this!
And with a shock, I thought of Sarah’s book and realized exactly what I was doing. This is motherhood, I reminded myself. This is it, and it’s supposed to be hard.
So I stopped complaining. And instead, said a prayer for my poor, sick daughter as I smoothed the hair off her forehead. And said a prayer for myself and the day that lie ahead. And one more simple prayer to ask God to help me get the hang of this.
And this morning?
Ada is feeling better. I still managed to get up (semi) early and write the rest of this review. We are watching Peter Pan. I still have to work tonight and the house is still a mess and I’m sure there will be more puke involved, but that’s ok.
This motherhood thing is hard.
But I am not alone.
Thank you, Sarah, for that gentle reminder.