I’ve worked hard at many jobs in my lifetime, but I’ve never worked as hard as I do now with my two little boys, 17 months apart, demanding most of my attention and time. My job is pretty much a 24/7 gig without overtime pay or extra accrued vacation days. Nighttime feedings for baby, comforting a toddler after a bad dream or during a thunderstorm – the nights are always an adventure at our house.
And then there’s the “daytime” job, which starts before the sun is up. My boys cannot seem to be convinced that “Good morning time” starts at 7 a.m. I’ve argued this point numerous times with my toddler, but he strictly believes “Good morning” starts at 6 instead. His little brother agrees, so two against one they always win.
Before I had kids my morning was my own…which was a good thing, because I am not a morning person. I often worked out first thing, then took my time in the shower, getting dressed, doing my hair and makeup, drinking hot tea, reading my Bible, making myself a protein shake or bowl of oatmeal. Things moved slowly, and I enjoyed easing into the day.
My mornings look a bit different these days. I roll out of bed (sometimes I’ve only been BACK in bed for an hour at that point) and start the day with a groan as soon as Toddler Bear or Baby Bear starts yelling. They take turns being first. There’s no morning workout, no morning shower, and I often don’t make it out of loungy clothes before 11:00am. My hair gets thrown into a scattered bun and I start our routine of diaper changes, feedings, playtime with toddler, snuggle time with baby, then breakfast for toddler, more feeding for the baby, more playtime with toddler, more feeding and first naptime for baby…. and the cycle continues.
I’ve finally figured out how to fit my workout and shower into the day (I’ll tell you about my monumental motherhood discovery on that topic in another Blog post), but I’ve struggled for a long time figuring out how to start my day with prayer or at least having a few moments of “God time” before the chaos escalates too much.
I tried taking my kids to daily mass by myself but that was nothing but a massive disaster. We’re not quite ready for that yet. I tried having a Bible read-aloud time with Toddler Bear and me first thing in the morning, but he’s not ready to sit for a book that doesn’t have pictures. So we gave that up too.
So far I’ve only found one thing that gives me a little “God time” at the beginning of my day, amidst the tyranny of “Mom Time” in my life.
After the initial round of 6am diaper changes and feedings, I set Mark up with his train set and matchbox cars and let him play by himself for a few minutes. I simultaneously put Baby Luke in his exersaucer and let him bounce away for a bit. At least one of us gets to start the day with exercise. I grab my first (of many) cups of coffee and sit down in Pete’s La-Z-Boy chair, positioned so I can see both bear cubs, and I take a few moments for myself and God. When Mark begs me “Mommy PLAY!!” I firmly tell him I’ll gladly play Matchbox cars with him in 10 minutes. If Luke gets antsy I put a pacifier in his mouth. It’s not a lot of time, but my day needs at least 5-10 minutes that are not bear cub centric. It’s beneficial for all of us.
I’ve set up a small table in the corner by Pete’s La-Z-Boy with a little basket containing my Perfect Size Bible, my Magnificat, my current volume of In Conversation with God, and whatever spiritual book I’m trying to slowly make my way through.
I start by reading each morning from my Magnificat, a monthly publication that contains the Morning and Evening Prayers from the Liturgy of the Hours, the daily mass readings for that day, a brief description of today’s saint, and a one-page meditation from a saint or theologian on the topic of today’s readings.
It’s short, to the point, and yet it draws me into the liturgy of the church, and also draws me close to the Mass, even though I’m unable to attend daily in person. The Magnificat always gives me spiritual fuel for my day and food for thought. It’s truly a new mom lifesaver.
Sometimes the bear cubs give me enough time that I can read a chapter or two of scripture, or a few pages from In Conversation with God, in addition to my Magnificat readings. Some days I barely get through the daily mass readings before having to return to the boys. But even if it’s just five minutes, it’s a huge spiritual boost to my day.
When my boys are older I do hope we can attend daily mass more often, or have a prayer time together to start our days. But for now, my time reading the Magnificat is a bare-minimum way I can set aside a few minutes to commune with my Maker in the morning, and allow him to prepare me for the next round of feedings, diaper changes, and Matchbox car races around our coffee table.
I’d love to hear from other moms of babies how they fit in God Time when you roll out of bed and Mom Time is already being demanded of you. It’s a difficult balancing act. But I’m confident we can help each other.
Happy Feast of St. Joseph the Worker!
“Human work, and especially manual labor, receive special prominence in the Gospel. Along with the humanity of the Son of God, work too has been taken up in the mystery of the Incarnation, and has also been redeemed in a special way. At the workbench, St. Joseph brought human work closer to the mystery of the Redemption.” – Blessed John Paul II. Today’s Meditation Reading from the May 2012 Magnificat