In a Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram culture, everything has been turned into a competition of who can have the most put-together life. For moms, this means who can have the cleanest house, the most talented, smart kids, and who can make the coolest treats that embody the spirit of the season. Oh, and they should also exhibit an obvious mastery of artistry and culinary excellence. All this of course while you remain in photo-ready mode in case you need to snap a selfie.
I remember once drowning in those expectations and all at once feeling Christ’s hand pulling me up out of the abyss. I knew it was time to let all the irrational expectations I was putting on myself die. Christ was calling me to dig a hole and swiftly kick the mom guilt, the measuring sticks, and the fear of failure into the trench, and to rise in the hope He has always held for my life and the lives of those entrusted to my care.
He was compelling me to let my idea of what it is to be a perfect woman, wife, and mom die so that He could reveal a truth that I’ve always known, but so often forgot.
And He did this in a way that was very hard and emotionally fused.
You see, at the time I was expecting my 13th baby (not including my 5 heavenly children), and for several mornings I had been spotting. I was blessed to detect a little heartbeat, but for someone who had a history of miscarriages, it was very unsettling. As a result, I had to completely slow down and spend some extra time in bed.
This meant that my house was now sparking joy for Marie Kondo, who loves mess. It meant that I was facing a looming and impending laundry-ageddon. It meant that I was wincing every few minutes as my kids were battling it out in the distance. It meant that all the things that I had often felt defined a good wife and mother, faithful in her vocation, were completely falling to the wayside.
In spite of my deep frustration at the time, I saw the blessings. I couldn’t do for everyone that which I usually did, but I had a ton of little visitors, who in the absence of busyness and competition for my attention, were enjoying the act of just being with me. We were able to waste time together, cuddling, and talking ... well, they did most of the talking.
In these moments, in the absence of a myriad of activities in an effort to over-embellish their lives, Christ was revealing a truth that infused me with greater life ever since.
You are enough. Your presence. Your being. You.
Yes, when I finally rose from the bed, I had some MAJOR cleaning and laundry to do (with the kids’ help), but the truth spoken in this state of forced surrender still resonates in my heart. You are enough.
Perhaps this message is being felt more deeply than ever with the forced surrender so many of us have been enduring as of late; and further still, with the absence of being able to receive or even visit Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Never has it been more clear to me what a gift it can be to be in someone’s presence. Just to be in His presence is everything.
I know He is calling us to understand the worth of our own presence in the lives of our friends and family, just as we are, for we are enough.
*Baby #13, Avila, was born last Fall on September 18. Thanks be to God!
Stay with us Lord!
Mane Nobiscum Domine
Carissa Douglas is a Canadian author and illustrator, known especially for her Little Douglings brand—a series for kids in which a group of children is sent on a mission by God with the assistance of a Saint. Carissa is the mom of 14, and a passionate promoter of the culture of life and all things related to this: our awesome Catholic faith. While her kids are busy with school work and projects, she spends her downtime writing stories and illustrating. To follow the adventures of the Little Douglings, visit them here.