With an active 18 month old on my hands, working part time, and making sure our family is fed with a relatively clean house, I really struggle to find time for prayer. If the baby is awake, I am generally playing with her while I intermittently answer emails, and when she is sleeping I tend to crank out my larger work projects. Once my husband gets home I make dinner while he plays with her and then we eat and do the bedtime routine. Once the baby is in bed, my husband and I have about an hour or two to hang out just the two of us, and then I crash at about 9:30 from sheer exhaustion.
Sure, I was busy before, but there were chunks of uninterrupted time throughout the day that allowed some one on one time with Jesus. Twenty minutes on my lunch break, or in the evening when I got home from work. My husband and I also went to daily Mass pretty often when we were dating and first married.
Don’t get me wrong, I certainly wasn’t perfect and there were PLENTY of days I didn’t get in any prayer time except before a meal, but most of the time I tried to make it a priority. I admit, transitioning to motherhood has made it challenging to find ways to get closer to God and grow in my faith through prayer. With rarely a spare moment during the day and limited one on one time with my husband in the evening, I find myself struggling to have a consistent prayer life. Even at Church on Sundays, either myself or my husband spends most of the time in the back because, well, toddlers.
When I really started feeling the lack of a spiritual life weighing me down, I looked to the saints for some wisdom. Taking lessons from St. Therese and her “little way” of making things holy has given me a sense of peace during the busiest times. Doing even the smallest tasks with great love IS a way to grow closer to Jesus, and it is just as real a way as going to daily Mass. I might not be able to go pray at Eucharistic Adoration, but instead I am taking care of a soul that God has entrusted to my care. Everytime I wipe her tears or make her a meal I am doing His work. The work He has asked me to do, and if I remember to do it with love, it is a type of prayer.
Another solace has been reading the letters St. Therese’s mother, St. Zelie Martin, wrote. She details her struggles with stress about having enough time for conflicting responsibilities. A Call to a Deeper Love showed me that even saints struggle in their given vocation. Her writings talk of her exhaustion from taking care of her children, her worry over getting everything done, and how St. Therese’s temper tantrums in particular were trying for her. When I feel too overwhelmed to manage everything I am juggling, I am comforted that even canonized saints in heaven have shared my battles which helps me feel closer to them and to Jesus.
The pastor at our parish has given me what has been perhaps the greatest tool for staying close to God through prayer, even when I really struggle to sit down uninterrupted for longer than thirty seconds. He spoke during one homily about how it is a sin to not pray everyday.
I felt myself stiffen, and despair start to take over. But as he dove into what he meant, I was comforted, and began breathe easier.
“Would you wake up in the morning, walk into the kitchen where your mother is sitting and not say good morning to her?”
He continued to give examples about how prayer is not about just carving out one time to speak to God each day, but a continual conversation with him. Sometimes those conversations are long and intimate, and sometimes it’s a “good night Lord, thank you for this day”. Since implementing that advice, I have a much greater sense of peace, and enjoy prayer more than ever. When the baby does something extremely taxing, or I am overwhelmed by work, it is enough to say “Jesus, please get me through this”. When I am snuggled up with my normally rambunctious toddler, telling God how thankful I am He picked me to be her mom is enough. Not only is it enough, but He wants us to come to him in those moments, to be drawn into every aspect of our lives.
Prayer is not meant to be stressful, but the greatest source of peace. Remembering that, as well as the lessons of far wiser people, has helped me see that just because my prayer life looks different during this time in my life, it doesn’t mean it is less fruitful.