This lovely reflection encourages mothers to walk the Way of the Cross with their children just as Mary walked with Jesus. My dear friend Selina has always been an encouraging support to me by both acknowledging my accomplishments and calling me out when I need to be redirected. Her heart is full of faith and wisdom, and I know her words will touch many!
The stations of the cross is one of the most common devotions to add to our prayer lives during Lent. Taking just thirty minutes to reflect on the suffering of our Lord can transform our hearts and reveal places in our lives that require the light of Christ. I realize not every parish is hosting these during the current Pandemic, but it is still a beautiful prayer you can do at home. This past Friday, we invited another family over for lunch and prayed the stations of the cross with the kids. I realized my kids have been carrying a cross since March of 2020. It is not unique to our family and I am sure your family has experienced the same one.
Their cross has been isolation. The first couple of months of the Pandemic were the hardest. We usually take the Spring off in our homeschool. Texan summers can be brutally hot, so we traditionally take that vacation from school during March, April, and a couple of weeks in May. We had weeks of fun activities planned; field trips, feast day celebrations, and birthdays. All of our plans were cancelled and I could see the joy drain my children as the weeks went on. I was watching them carry their cross. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had to make a decision.
I could have been a Roman soldier and angrily insist they continue on, no matter how tired they felt. I could have used my authority as their parent and discipline them for just being who they are, children in need of community. There were definitely moments when my anger and frustration got the best of me, especially when things that took care of my own mental health were cancelled. Thank the Lord for his grace and mercy. My husband and I were able to visit the sacraments in June, and decided we needed a new plan for our family.
I had to choose to be Simon for my children. I had to help them carry this cross of isolation. I had to do the work of considering what our needs were and find families willing to bear this cross with us. We knew our homeschool would not look like the way it did in 2019, but we could make the rest of 2020 be a joyful experience, given the situation we were in. We were able to find a couple of families who were willing to share meals and go on hikes with us. We had picnics together, found rivers to go creek stomping in, and shared books that nourished our minds. We prayed the rosary, shared saint stories, and found parks that suited the many age ranges in our little community.
I had to choose to be Veronica and find ways to wipe the faces of my children. I needed to give my kids little comforts that would be a small graces in their days between meetups. We bought new board games, bought gear to go fishing, and made the most of meal time. My husband got up an hour earlier than normal to take our kids fishing in the Summer months before leaving for work. I read aloud to my children more than I usually did. No after school library activities meant that I was now the fun librarian. We added some fun recipes to our family’s regular meals and started baking together. I also committed to taking care of myself and invested in a home gym. Our household chores took a back burner for a season so we could find a new rhythm as a family.
I remember after one of our park & rosary meetups my daughter told me she had so much fun she forgot about Covid for about 3 hours. I had no idea how much of a burden she was carrying until she made me aware of her struggles. Our homeschool does not resemble what it looked like in 2019. We have let go of so much, but we have so much more hope and joy now than we did six months ago. We have renewed our community and found ways to pour delight into our routine.
That has been my commitment for Lent. My kids are smart and they know when I am not doing things with a cheerful heart. After lamenting all the time of what Covid did to 2020, I needed to use this season to work on my attitude towards my vocation. I am thankful Lent is long because it gives me plenty of time to form a new habit that I can carry with me for the rest of the liturgical year. I am not focusing on what we are giving up, but what I can do with a joyful heart. I am inviting you to do the same. Where can we be a Simon and Veronica in our children’s lives. What does your family cross look like? Can you change your perspective and choose joy for your family?