[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his video put out by What’s Up Moms is a hilarious parody on Taylor Swift’s popular song Blank Space. What’s Up Moms accurately portray the life of a mom of young children and the desperate need for caffeine when you have a house full of young children. If you have kids, you can definitely relate to this music video that cleverly changes the lyrics of Swift’s original song to “Starbucks lovers”.
Although I laughed pretty hard at this video, I couldn’t help but think a little deeper into the message it is sending to our culture.
Are these type of parodies (in addition to the many Buzzfeed posts about the difficulties of parenting and the over dramatic Facebook statuses of tired/irritated/frustrated parents) contributing to the decline in the number of children being born in the United States? The newest report shows that birth rates in the U.S. are at an all-time low. Who would want to be a mom after watching the expressions of the moms in these videos? They look as if they are being tortured and controlled by their own children.
In addition to parodies like this one, there is no lack of articles and posts that go into detail describing all the jobs, responsibilities, and “nightmares” of being a mother. I won’t go into the long lists of comforts that we are being told moms sacrifice on a daily basis because it’s already been so extensively covered. Many of these things would have never really crossed my mind (although I do them every day), but after being “enlightened” by these articles I walk away feeling full of self-pity. I didn’t realize how much I was giving up or how much extra work I was doing until I started to read many of the articles. There is even a website that tells me the salary I deserve for being a mom.
And who in their right mind would want to sign up for a job with so many hours and such little pay? Apparently no one, according to this video from Cardstore.
So, Catholic Moms and Dads, this is our challenge to start sharing with the world the joy of raising children in the midst of sacrifice. We know our jobs are hard. We constantly give of ourselves and put our own needs last. With 5 children all under nine years old, I know because I live it daily.
However, we are called to communicate the joy of having a family. It’s our vocation. It’s our gift. It’s our tool for evangelization. It’s our path to growing closer to God. Let’s put an end to these internet pity parties that everyone seems to throwing for us and begin to show the world the joy that comes with children! It’s the type of joy that makes all the sacrifice more than worth it.
It’s not that we are called to fake it or pretend that everything is perfect. We all know that no one’s life is perfect no matter how great their Instagram pictures look. It’s more about finding the balance between not sugar-coating life as a parent and creating a false perception of perfection, but also not making it look as if parenting is a form of torture.
Work to offer up all that we do to Christ. We don’t always need to list the endless ways we serve our families to anyone who will listen. God sees every shoe you tie, every minute you don’t sleep, every meal you make and every story you read. God knows. He sees.
He is honored when you serve the “least of these” (Matthew 25:40) because through serving them, you serve Him. We don’t need to seek the approval and sympathy of everyone around us for everything we do. We don’t need to make it our Facebook status when we’ve stayed up all night with our sick babies or when we’ve folded laundry for 3 hours. This is a way of fasting in which we fast from our own needs to meet the needs of our children. There are scriptures that promise joy as our reward.
Pope Francis is passionate about joy in families. “I would like to ask a question today. Everyone – how will you carry joy home in your heart? How’s the joy in your home? How’s the joy in your family?…The family which experiences the joy of faith communicates it naturally. That family is the salt of the earth and the light of the world, it is the leaven of society: the joyous family!” Pope Francis (Homily on October 27, 2013)
Guard your speech. – Rather than complaining about the lack of sleep you had last night, find something joyful to share with your friends and family. Talk about your babies first steps or loving hugs and kisses they give you. Write a Facebook post about the funny things your preschooler says or about how your 2nd grader is preparing for the Sacraments. Tell stories that build up your family and show others how much you care for them. It’s okay to share about the sacrifices of parenting and embrace them, but don’t let it be the ONLY thing you talk about. Make joy the focus. Try to save most of the complaining and venting for your spouse…and then watch a video like the parody above and laugh about it.
Plan out how you will respond to others. – Everywhere I go, I get comments on my family. I constantly hear things like : You have your hands full. Wow, that’s a lot of children. Are you going to have MORE? You got your girl, I hope you’re done now. How do you do it all? It can be frustrating for complete strangers to take such an avid interest in your family planning, but refrain from a negative comment. Try to respond with : My hands are full of blessings! , We will accept all the gifts the Lord gives to us with joy. I can’t do it all, but I have God to help me. My favorite response when I have all 5 kids with me and someone asks if we are “done” ,”Oh, we’re just getting started on our family.” Never fails to leave them speechless.
Make joy a priority in your home. – Maybe you don’t communicate joy because you don’t feel joyful! Start by replacing running to Starbucks with running to Jesus. If we feel the same need and dependency on Jesus that we do for Starbucks, our homes will start to become filled with joy. Make both personal prayer time and family prayer time a priority in your home. “Renew in us the value of silence make our families circles of prayer and transform them into little domestic Churches, renew the desire for holiness, sustain the noble efforts of work, of education, of listening, of mutual understanding and forgiveness.” – Pope Francis
Family Time. – Make time with your family a priority as well. Game nights, vacations, movie nights, campfires, and activities together inevitably lead to laughter and memories. When you spend time with your family like this, your joy will overflow to those around you.
Sacrifice Beads – St. Therésè, the Little Flower, as a child, used a small string of beads in her pocket to help her count the gifts she did to offer to God. In this way, she was able to advance in perfection daily. You can also grow in holiness by following the example of the Little Flower. Sacrifice Beads are a string of ten beads, which can be pulled and remain in place. They are used to count the acts of love or sacrifices a person makes in a day for God. The string of beads helps a person to grow in virtue by challenging them to be faithful in making acts of love each day. Sacrifice Beads also have a fixed Our Father bead on the end of them and can double up as a rosary. (from thelittleways.com)
Remember, this is just a season of life. – Your children won’t be young forever. As the saying goes, the days go slow, but the years go fast. These long days you are experiencing now, will be done sooner than you want them to be. Your children will be grown and you will miss those kisses and the laughter and even the tears. Don’t wish your time away, enjoy the moments God provides with your little ones.
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