I’m very embarrassed to say that my daughter saw our nativity for the first time yesterday. Also, our second purple candle on the Advent wreath had yet to be lit, and our first one is almost gone because I left it burning on accident one night the first week after saying our prayer around the Advent wreath (which, as an aside, we’ve done twice). All of this does not bode well for our first Advent as parents, nor does it mesh with whatever rosy catholic dreams I had envisioned in ‘passing on the faith’ once we started a family. Part of me feels like I’ve already failed some epic Catholic mom test, 10 months in.
I soooo desperately wanted to start teaching Pia in small ways how to prepare and reflect during this precious start to our liturgical year. I know she is too little to understand it all right this second, but I think even the littlest things when they are really young must – have to – be tiny building blocks for ages 2, 3, 4 and so on. But it’s been harder than I’ve thought to wrangle an almost-walking little one and carve out the time for preparations, especially as we’ve added in a new big family challenge that has already taken much daily mental energy and time.
The reality is, however, that I can’t create building blocks now or in the future if I am not sincerely preparing my own heart first, and setting aside this time “waiting in prayer” as we get so very close to Christmas. The nativity wasn’t out and the candles uneven ultimately not because I didn’t stick to my to-do list, but honestly because of my own lack of personal prayer and disposition towards doing those activities – such as joining around our wreath – that coincide with that prayer. I can’t teach or remember to give what I, again embarrassingly, don’t have, so I’ve been painfully reminded of how important it is to slow down and keep my heart recollected. The world and busyness – even additional tasks we believe as a family are God led – can’t derail me from one of the most important of tasks, the raising up my children in the Faith.
Fortunately, there’s still time left this year…both for me and for Pia. And as I offer up my very paltry efforts at Catholic mothering this morning three weeks into Advent… and Pia reaches to sweetly kiss some of our nativity figures… I’m reminded for the billionth time that Christ will take whatever we give and multiply it tenfold. Thank goodness!