1. Be willing to make sacrifices. To quote Mother Theresa, “True love causes pain. Jesus, in order to give us the proof of his love, died on the cross. A Mother, in order to give birth to her baby, has to suffer. If you really love one another, you will not be able to avoid making sacrifices.” Yep, that means financial sacrifices. It also means that your schedule is no longer your own. Keeping your house (somewhat) clean (or at least picked up) looks different now. For one thing, it is a bigger priority, as you’ll have to be home more now. Your kiddos nap for the first 2-3-4 years, and during the time they are awake, they will make a mess. Dishes in a pile? Just take it one dish at a time. You never know when the baby will awaken you and interrupt your peaceful reverie (or wet/dirty his/her diaper). Eventually, you’ll find pleasure in what seems an anxiety-inducing unpredictability. As you’re greeted by the smiles of a sweet baby, your cup will overflow with joy. And eventually, you’ll go back to being able to make your home the haven you crave. Have cut flowers and potted indoor plants surrounding you. Sanitize and mop as often as necessary- moreso as your little one learns to crawl.
2. Keep your sanity and keep yourself kept. The process and the sparkling result of cleaning and housekeeping will keep you sane, Amen? It’s also great exercise. Carrying another load of clean laundry upstairs to the bedroom? It saves boredom and gets my heart rate up! Other than consistent housekeeping, go for walks, be friendly with people, and when you have time read, and continue doing the things you enjoyed before kiddos- sewing, writing, knitting, or whatever that may be. Have a craving for something? Take intentional breaks when you can, and do take care of yourself. Remember that what you see in the mirror (dark circles under your eyes from exhaustion) is temporary. It is not a sin to want to look pretty. Braid or curl your hair when you can, or blowdry it once a week. Go for walks, and when you go out on errands, try not wearing sweat pants or PJ’s or clothes with milk on them, and see how it makes you feel! Your husband will smile, and you will like motherhood more. You will (ok, might) not come to resent the mirror!
3. Put your trust and complete reliance on Christ. To quote Mother Theresa again, “As far as material means are concerned, we depend totally on divine Providence.”* Motherhood is an act of service. It requires faith. Depend on Christ for strength, depend on him for guidance. Pray unceasingly. Pray for your children, pray with and for your spouse, and pray asking God for grace and for whatever you need, on all occasions.
4. Give yourself grace. Take breaks and don’t try to be perfect. Mother Theresa says, “God does not demand that I be successful. God demands that I be faithful. When facing God, results are not important. Faithfulness is what is important.” I cannot emphasize this enough. I recommend not logging into Facebook first thing in the morning. You will be much happier if you make your children your priority. When you need it, take a week-long (or howeverlong) break from the screen or cut the caffeine for a while. And yes- while faithfulness is important, also- Go on vacation. Go! Spend some time- even just a day or weekend in the mountains or if you’re near one, on the beach. If you can’t go out of town, get someone to watch the kids during the day, and take a hiatus from your normal routine. Seek out the different, and the out-of-the-ordinary. Take breaks. You will thank me.
5. Remember to worship, pray, and grow in your relationship with God- not just at Mass. Read spiritual books beyond Daily Readings, and read Scripture as much as you can make time to.
Remember that motherhood changes your life, and it will change your housekeeping. However, it should not change your happiness, or your sanity– except for the better! When the baby takes her first steps, and you’re there to see it happen, you’ll know. It should not overturn the things that you loved about life before parenthood. It will enrich your life immensely. Children keep things fresh, and they truly make life more exciting. Eating Pop Tarts and watching My Little Pony on a Saturday morning with the girls takes me back to my childhood, causing me to relive it, except now through their eyes.
6. Finally, Enjoy it. Enjoy them. Embrace motherhood, love them well, reach out to God and friends, and you will love every minute!
*Quotes taken from Mother Theresa: In My Own Words c. 1996, Liguori Books
Copyright 2013 Tacy Beck