“So, could you not watch with me one hour?” (Matthew 26:40)
I feel like I’ve somehow discovered the elixir of life, and I need to share it with all of you! I first discovered it when I was exiting survival mode with our first baby, and I’ve been rediscovering it with each child. This special elixir of life is quiet prayer time first thing in the morning.
I love, love, love sleep. In fact, I wrote about how much I love sleep and have no qualms about taking afternoon naps in my previous column about how life is too short for mommy guilt. All that being said, I have a special note for new moms reading this column: feel no guilt if you’re not ready to attempt rising for morning prayer until you’re out of survival mode! Our baby is ten months old, and I’m just now getting back into my morning prayer routine.
A week ago, I decided I would start rising an hour before the kids. I throw on my exercise clothes and tiptoe my way downstairs. I make my coffee, play the Dominican Sisters of Mary’s album “Mater Eucharistiae,” and gather my prayer materials.
It. Is. The. Best.
Remember how I told you I love sleep? I still do, but being a mother of little ones is so full of noise that I crave the quiet, and I actually look forward to getting up at 6 to be with God. Parenthood just might be making this night owl into a morning person afterall!
When I wasn’t starting the day with morning prayer and let the kids wake me up, it felt like a fire drill. I was putting out one fire after another and felt like I had run a marathon by the time it was 8:00. I’d wake up and have my own personal hygiene stuff to tend to, but they needed their diapers and jammies changed, had empty tummies to be filled, and needed lots and lots of cuddles to transition to the land of the living. As we jumped from one thing to the next, I’d be more impatient and the kids were whinier. Instead of remembering that they are supposed to be unreasonable as little ones, I would view every little thing they did as a personal assault against mommy.
I’m only one week into my new morning prayer routine, and I am already seeing how it is bearing fruit for our whole family. When I wake up an hour before the kids, I have time to just be with God. He continues to bless that time and bless our days because of it. When I give God the “first fruits” of my day by spending time with Him in prayer, He shows that He won’t be outdone in generosity. He sends me off with the Holy Spirit to face the day, and He seems to multiply my time.
By the time the kids come downstairs and our baby awakes, I’ve already been awake for an hour. The sleep is out of my eyes, I’ve connected with God, and I’m ready to go. I have their breakfast made for them, and I’m all set to change diapers & clothes, give big cuddles, and meet whatever curveballs they’re ready to launch my way. I’m more patient and resilient. Glasses of spilled milk, diaper blowouts, temper tantrums, or a teething baby become fleeting moments that I address when they arise instead of downers that define the day. The kids are happier, and I’m not frustrated or ready to throw in the towel by the time I’m rinsing the breakfast dishes.
Despite waking up an hour earlier, I have more energy to go through the day. I feel more in touch with God, and I hear Him as we move from one activity to the next. I find more pockets of time to do housework as we go through the day. I’m playing more with the kids, so they’re happier to be independent when I’m working on something. They’re fighting less with each other, and they’re exhausted by the time naptime rolls around because we’ve been so busy.
In only one week, I can see that God is changing me through my morning prayer, and that change is carrying over to the rest of our family. The other night, as my husband and I were getting into bed, he smiled and said, “It is so nice to come home and see how happy you all are.”
Helping to create a happy home has always been our goal, and it’s such a blessing to see God making it happen. The difference is tangible. While God isn’t erasing conflict or problems from our days on the homefront, He’s showing us that the world can’t shake us when He’s our lifeblood.
Have you ever made a change that God ended up using to bless your entire family? What happened?
Copyright 2014, Catherine Boucher