In their new book, Small Steps for Catholic Moms: Think. Pray. Act. Every Day., Danielle Bean and Elizabeth Foss advise us to ask Jesus for the reminder that it doesn't matter how many things we cross off our to-do list if we are not kind, charitable and gentle as we do them.
How true this rang in my ears. How many times have I been too busy with my all important "to-do list" (which usually always means my "clean house" list) that I got frustrated with the baby because she won't sleep? Or lost patience with the toddler who interrupts me over and over again asking for help with something? Or refused to help an older child with something because I know they can do it themselves. But perhaps they just wanted some Mom time? How many harsh words have escaped my mouth towards the children who start playing in the newly cleaned room? How many memories have I missed out on because instead of saying yes, I said, "Not right now. I'm too busy." How many times have I broken the heart of those who I love best because I forgot to be kind, charitable and gentle as I go about my "to-do" list?
We just watched a documentary on Mother Teresa. She emphasized how she wanted to be a servant of the poor. Not just to help them but to truly serve them. Her humility is awe-inspiring. It made me want to drive down to D.C. and find a poor person on the street and help them. How quickly I forget that my duty lies within my home. That I have that same opportunity every day with my children. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it states that "Parents' respect and affection are expressed by the care and attention they devote to bringing up their young children and providing for their physical and spiritual needs." (2228) As a Catholic mother, I am asked to be a servant to my children. I'm not saying that they are in charge or that I allow them to bark commands at me. But lets look at the definition of servant. A servant is someone who is in the service of another. A mother is definitely in the service of her children. It's a very humbling job, is it not? I may not be able to help the poor off the streets of Calcutta or D.C. But I can help my children when they are in need. As Agnes M. Penny puts it so well in her book, Your Vocation of Love, "In humility, then, we recognize objective truth; we acknowledge our faults, which are so conveniently pointed out to us throughout the day...... we recognize that our authority as mothers involves primarily a duty to serve our children's needs..."
A clean house is nice and yes, necessary. But what is more important? A house that is spotless but full of children who are rude and yell and feel neglected? Or a house that is always a work-in-progress but is full of children who know they are loved and respected and therefore love and respect others? I'll take the latter, thank you very much.
Yes, Jesus. Remind me that it doesn't matter how many things I cross off my to-do list, if I am not kind, charitable and gentle as I go about doing them.