SummaryWinter often makes family life harder. Emily Molitor grapples with the long lonely days, and shares three ways she’s discovered to nurture a happy home.
Winter often brings a deeper awareness of my weaknesses and faults as a wife and mother. Perhaps it is the long days cooped inside which bring out my frustrations and failures.
I find myself feeling resentful of these long, lonely days with children, even while in my heart I am keenly aware of my blessings.
I remind myself that even St. Paul speaks of this dilemma in Scripture, when he questions, “Why do I do the evil that I don’t want to do, and not do the good which I desire to do?”
When my emotional roller coaster gets the better of me at the end of the day, I find myself sorely in need of prayer and self-reflection.
More than a girl’s night, or a shopping spree, what I truly need is time to walk through my feelings under the guiding light of grace. When I can better understand myself and my frustrations, I find that it gives me strength and enthusiasm to face another day.
Thus, growth in self-awareness is crucial to my success at discovering contentment in daily life, and therefore is also important for maintaining a peaceful home environment.
Knowing myself gives me a greater ability to utilize the positive in my life, as well as to deal with the negative.
I would like to share here a few ideas which have helped me in the area of discovering contentment as a stay-at-home mother.
1. You Don’t Have to ‘Accomplish’ Something
One point that has made a difference in my ability to maintain a peaceful spirit amidst day-to-day life in the home is the acceptance of the fact that I don’t have to accomplish something in order for my day to be meaningful.
For sure, it feels great to tackle a household task, or cook a delicious feast, but the task is not in and of itself what is ultimately important.
What is important is my loving service to those around me, as I go about my day exhibiting a joyful and peaceful attitude. At the end of the day, asking myself the following questions is helpful:
Did I give my actions to God today, and did I give to Him through loving those He has placed in my care? Often my answer will be something along these lines: “Yes, I gave of myself, but with frustrations and feelings of resentment.”
In this case, God accepts the good I do because He understands my weakness, but He also gives me a chance to do better tomorrow.
As St. Therese reminds us, the love which we put into our actions is what makes them most pleasing to God. Am I seeking to love Him, and to love those in my care, more every day?
2. Seek God in the Ordinary
Another point of self-reflection essential for maintaining inner peace is the following:
- Did I honestly strive to seek God in the ordinary events of the day?
- Did I look at my surroundings and make a real effort to find His beauty hidden within the small tasks and sufferings?
- Did I offer my frustrations in union with His sorrows?
If my answer to these questions is no, it does not mean that I am a failure, or that my day was meaningless. But examining my motivations helps me to see more clearly the truth that union with Jesus throughout the day is what brings true joy.
If I do not seek Him and invite Him into my daily activities, then I should not be surprised at my lack of patience and joy. But when I call out to Him in distress, my closeness to Christ brings peace and light to my day, even when I can’t find that comfort from other people.
When I am close to Christ in my heart and soul, my children are more peaceful and our home is a happier place to be.
An important reminder to myself, then, is to take time to talk with God interiorly throughout the day. When I am trying to muddle through what is going on inside of my heart, conversation with Christ brings clarity to my thoughts.
3. Reaching Out and Thanking Blessings
Another area in which I have found more contentment as a mother is in reaching out to others, and in taking time to thank God for my blessings. I know that we have all heard this before, but practicing gratitude really does help put our difficulties into perspective.
Gratitude gives me a chance to recognize the good that I am a part of each day. It shows me that my sufferings are usually just normal human weaknesses, and something that I can strive to work through with His grace and the help of my spouse and friends.
When I am feeling sorry for myself, another friend may be feeling the same way. If I assume that my life is the most difficult, then I miss out on the opportunity to bless another.
I have found that it is always more beneficial to assume that I have something to offer another, rather than to write off my efforts as unimportant or unwanted. We can’t possibly see right now how our acts of kindness will affect another, but we do know that an act of love will never go unnoticed by God.
At the very least, our children will see us reaching out of ourselves and will learn to imitate our example.
Let’s ask Our Lord to help us to face the difficult moments of daily life, and not to constantly seek escape. Inner contentment and peace of soul are essential for a happy home life, and our families are counting on us.