If you look up Joy in the dictionary you'll find a picture of my niece Maddi. From the day I launched Ask Aunt Katie I was eagerly awaiting a guest post from this gal! For this Friendsday Wednesday, we get to hear a Lenten reflection written from the perspective of one precious mom-to-be. What new mom in your life needs to hear this? St. Raymond Nonnatus, Pray for us!
“Our Father who art in—strollers! Hallowed be thy—pima cotton sleep gown!"
“Peace I leave with you, my peace—is definitely not sufficient to get me through the horrors of labor that are clearly outlined in that mom blog!”
Sitting in mass, I realized that I had not heard the last twenty minutes of this sacred celebration. Standing, sitting, mouthing the familiar words, but all the while, my mind was racing with thoughts of how to attain perfection. Thoughts masquerading as images of tiny infant clothes in gender-neutral yellow, my baby wrapped in a very specific bamboo ring sling, an endless scrolling through my online baby registry. Questions constantly arising. Suddenly, all peace seemed to hang on my decision between ordering maternity clothes immediately from the big Old Navy sale or patiently and frugally waiting until I actually need them.
By some miracle, one word managed to wiggle its way through my cluttered and active mind: Lent. To be honest, I hadn’t given much thought to how I would prepare for the death and resurrection of Jesus. I began to ponder my attachments, the things that keep my gaze narrowed and cause me to keep a vice-like grip on what I imagine will bring me peace—what I imagine will do a better job of bringing me peace than Jesus will. I did not have to ponder long.
I am well aware that in my 20 weeks and 1 day of pregnancy, I have been distracted by desires and fears about motherhood. It seems as though to be present to anything, I have to fight through a fog of thoughts ranging from the insignificant: “Which brand of pacifier is best for oral health (and also the cutest)?” to the most dramatic: “What if I die during childbirth?”
Thoughts of bottle nipple shape, contemplations of my sleep schedule philosophy, and deeply rooted fears of having an epidural swirl through my brain simultaneously, all elevating themselves to an equal potential for doom and completely cutting me off from any sense of perspective.
All the while, Jesus whispers, inviting me to rest, quietly blessing me and providing exactly what I need for each moment. But I don’t see it. I don’t see him. I don’t see him in the awe-inspiring life of my baby, the blessing of my husband and family, or in myself, in my miraculous ability to bring life into the world. Suddenly the world is divided in two: mom choices that are perfect and will lead to true peace vs. mom choices that are bad and will lead to unhappiness. These choices seem to lie totally on me, and I feel that if I just research and plan enough, I can attain perfection and therefore, peace.
Jesus has told me that he will not give me peace apart from himself. I cannot and will not find peace by choosing exactly the right baby bathtub or having my house perfectly organized. I must look to Jesus. Similarly, I will not find the strength to overcome this weakness by simply exerting more effort. I must look to Jesus. My temptation was to immediately make a game plan (and trusty list) outlining all the things I would do to detach myself from my pursuit of material perfection. With Herculean effort, I cleared a nagging cobweb of nursing pillow contemplation and was able to quiet my heart and ask Jesus what HE thought. Unsurprisingly, he had a better idea.
I felt a call to simply pray, entrusting myself to his work within my heart, but I did not feel called to pray just any prayer. Coming to mind was the seemingly unobtrusive but infinitely powerful Litany of Humility. If I am honest with myself, I do not really want to let go of my attachment to MY way. Deep down, I think that if I just work harder to prepare, peace and joy will come from my efforts. Crying in the middle of my kitchen surrounded by my “efforts” to be perfectly organized, led me write this prayer. With an understanding that peace comes only from Jesus and his way, I will pray each day of Lent:
O Jesus! Meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From rigidity in my expectations of myself and others, including you
From the idea that happiness will come when I obtain the “perfect” infant wardrobe
From the expectation that peace lies in having lots of attractive maternity clothes
From the imagined need to compulsively perfect my baby registry
From the idea that I will be a perfect mom if I create the perfect nursery
From the imagined need to force my husband to see from my own anxious perspective
From the desire to have all my plans and preparations completed right now
From the imagined need to fully grasp the mystery of the human person inside of me
From the imagined need to research, plan for, and know exactly what will happen
From the idea that in some future time, I will finally “have it all together”
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of trial and error
From the fear of labor and delivery
From the fear of physical and emotional pain
From the fear of seemingly humiliating immodesty
From the fear of being tired
From the fear that you will leave me wanting
From the fear of imperfection
From the fear of gaining weight
From the fear of not “measuring up”
From the fear of the opinions of others
From the fear of trusting the ideas and help of others
From the fear of the unknown
Deliver me, Jesus.
That my child will be exactly who you created them to be, not just who I imagine they should be
That I may grow in humility in order to become a person and parent in your image
That I may deeply desire and feel gratitude for the blessings you have already given me
That who my child is may be far more important and celebrated than what they wear and own
That my life may be one of sacrifice for others
That I may let go of my own unyielding plans
That I may accept with peace exactly where my pregnancy is
That I may accept my changing body as a beautiful testament to your gift of life
That I may embrace labor and delivery as a natural and beautiful gift from you
That I may answer the call, not to live “however I want” but to live my relationships well
That I may rest here in your presence
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
Madeleine Ortte Tatford is originally from Thibodaux, LA. Her infectious energy and smile light up any room she walks into. Maddi is a teacher and speaker that delights audiences with her fresh take on chastity and loving Jesus. She and her husband Evan live in New Orleans, LA, and are expecting their first child this summer!