|My favorite image of Mary: Our Lady of Grace|
What has helped most is the new ability to let go of my children's futures. I have always struggled with this idea. "Letting Go" is impossible for me because I care so deeply; the only way I've ever been able to do it is by giving up hope and decreasing my love and care. This was possible with people in my life before I had kids. Even my husband (God bless him) I could love less when he disappointed me or refused to meet my needs. It was very difficult, and caused years of strife, but I was able to "let go" of my expectations for him and it turned out to be what saved our marriage. I accepted him for who he is, worked on meeting my own needs, and in time we grew a beautiful partnership of equals. But I only got there by going through a long period of believing in my heart of hearts that this marriage would not last. I don't recommend this.
I couldn't do that with my kids. No matter how much I tried, I could not love them less or care less about their future. Well-meaning friends and family would tell me that there was really no way to assure obedience or compliance from my children, and that I should expect their defiance, and be unbothered by it. To me, that felt like telling someone not to worry about the bear wandering into their campground because, hey, you're in the woods! You should expect bears and be unbothered by them!
Yet, they were right. I should expect defiance from my children, even when I am asking them to do what is right and good, because they are children. They have not yet developed the inner self-discipline to do what is right on their own. If they had, I wouldn't need to ask! And it's unlikely they'll develop this until they've been living on their own for some time, simply because that's the dynamic of family life.
So how does this look, practically, in my own home life? It means less yelling. A lot less. Granted, there was a great deal of yelling before so it's not like my home is a haven of peace and gentleness quite yet. But it is significantly different now, because I know that their behavior is not my responsibility. I've always KNOWN that intellectually, but I haven't been able to accept it emotionally until now.
I hope to blog more in the future about how my parenting has changed and my motherhood has flourished, amid all of the challenges I've always faced. For today, I am basking in the joy of my consecration and the knowledge that my Blessed Mother is near me.