An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Raising souls

"I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life." (Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865)

There is no doubt that raising our sons is the hardest thing that my husband and I will ever, ever have to do. At night in bed I often review the events of the day: did I lose my patience too much? was I too lenient? should I have done this instead of that? My husband and I have endless discussions on discipline, on character building, on instilling spiritual growth. Often it seems as if there is never a clear answer; each situation, and yes, even each child, needs to be handled just a little differently.

I remember nursing my first son in the dark and quiet hours of the night when the enormity of the years ahead struck me. Changing diapers, bathing, feeding, rocking . . . taking care of our son's physical needs was the easy part. What about all the things we would have to teach him: to walk; hit a golf ball; spell his name; make his bed; research a paper; fill out an application; drive; get a job?

As important as these things are, what about character and spiritual growth? Imperfect as humans (and thus as parents), how would we teach our son to believe in God; pray with faith; help a stranger; give of oneself; be a good citizen; be strong, and confident, and secure; stand up for what is right? As I sat and rocked my son to sleep that night, I felt overwhelmed . . . we weren't just raising a child, we were raising a soul.

In the midst of those swirling emotions, I soon found a deep comfort in the Blessed Mother and realized that she, more than anyone, understood what it is like to be a mother.

Scripture tells us that Mary was afraid and "deeply disturbed" (Luke 1:29) when the angel Gabriel appeared to her. At the nativity, when the wise men came to pay homage to her son, Mary quietly "kept in mind all these things and pondered them in her heart." (Luke 2:19). Later, when she presented her first born son to the Lord, Simeon warns her of the pain that would come when he says, "a sword will pierce your own soul too" (Luke 2:35). And when Mary found Jesus in the temple after he had been lost for three days, she tells him, "See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you" (Luke 2:48). Joy, worry, pain, uncertainty . . . Mary lived through it all with a deep and abiding faith.

Now that we have three sons ages three, eleven, and twelve, Mary is still here to comfort, guide, and mediate for us. Help is only a prayer away, and that's a good thing, because here is what I am reminded of on a daily basis: raising our sons is, and always will be, the hardest thing my husband and I will ever, ever have to do. It's not supposed to be easy, but with prayer and faith it can be done. It's as simple as that.

4 comments:

Kari & Kijsa said...

It is definitely not easy, just as you say, and does requires constant prayer, but we know it is the most rewarding job out there! Thank you so much for mothering inspiration- boy do we need it!!

blessings,
kari & kijsa

suburbancorrespondent said...

It can be overwhelming at times, if you think about it. Luckily, they keep us so busy that we can't think about it too much.

Have you heard of Ray Guarendi yet? He's great - I heard him speak at our Catholic homeschoolers conference last June. He didn't so much say anything I didn't know, but he reminded me of everything I tend to forget in the day-to-day hustle and bustle of raising children. You know, the big picture...And he's very funny. He and his wife have adopted 10 children, so any advice he gives out on childrearing is definitely valid.

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

PAOLA said...

Cara Maria, ho veramente apprezzato il contenuto del tuo scritto e ti ammiro moltissimo.

houseofdanes said...

I really enjoyed reading your blog. You write beautifully and don't fret too much about raising those boys... I have three boys now in their 20's and I still wonder those same things.. my daughter is almost 18 and though she's quite different from the boys I still worry about her and her life's decisions. I was one of those moms that thought as long as I controlled my childrens environment they'd be ok and spared some of the hard lessons I had to learn.... not true, when they moved out, especially one, really spread his wings in the wrong direction, guess all my hovering and guiding ( a nice word for controlling) the events around him backfired... I'm happy to say he's now found his happy middle again but we always question our ability to parent, shoot even to be a spouse, friend, co worker, dog owner, neighbor..... at least I do :)
from one italian to another