“How do you do it?”, people sometimes ask as I walk in somewhere, usually late, lagging behind my pseudo independent 6 and 5 year olds, constantly looking over my shoulder to make sure the easily distracted 3 year old hasn’t run off with a stranger (highly probable), and dragging the infant behind me in her increasingly heavy carrier.
Well, the answer is – I don’t. I don’t do anything in this mom life on my own. There’s not one thing I can take sole credit for. And praise God for that.
Three years ago, we made the decision to enroll our oldest son, Jacob, in Holy Trinity’s Pre-K program. Having a November birthday, he wasn’t old enough for Kindergarten yet. So, we’ll just do this for a year before he starts at our neighborhood school, we thought. After all, that’s why we left uptown Dallas and moved to the suburbs – so we wouldn’t have to pay for private school. God’s funny that way.
But really at this point I secretly hoped we would be able to send Jacob to Holy Trinity beyond PreK, but I knew my husband wasn’t convinced. “You obviously don’t think our property taxes are high enough,” he told me when I suggested it back then. Come, Holy Spirit, come. If this is Your will, please let us be able to send him, I prayed. And then I waited.
The fall semester was blur as we adjusted to “real school”, but in the Spring I began to attend the Rosary group and daily Mass at school weekly on Wednesdays. With my 3 and 1 year olds in tow. Who does that to themselves, one might wonder. Well, again, it started out as just something I thought I’d give a try temporarily. Probably won’t last long, but we’ll just see how far we can go. Seeing a trend here yet?
It’s no surprise that those Wednesday mornings quickly became one of the highlights of my week. Even when my girls acted up. I quickly found that there was never a shortage of hands to help with them. Or a shortage of smiles to encourage me to keep coming back. A then stranger, now dear friend, would hold out her rosary for the baby to “help” count as she prayed. Another would take out her notepad and pens to entertain my toddler. Yet another would swoop in gently during Mass to hold the baby, while I raced to the potty with her sister.
Community. If I could sum up our last three years at Holy Trinity in one word, it would be that. The other parents and children have become our extended family. Our community. They have poured their life into us through their daily acts of love and self-sacrifice. Some days it’s a simple holding the doors open at pick up long enough for my distracted, all- over-the-place crew to make it outside in one piece. Other days, it’s a friend bringing us a hot meal at pick up time because she could tell I was overwhelmed and she just wanted to give me the night off from cooking.
I heard recently on a popular Catholic radio show of this concept that family life was always meant to be done in community, but that over time, we Americans began moving away from immediate and extended family, ultimately leaving us to feel as though raising children is solely the job of the two individuals whom God allowed to partake in their creation. We kind of cling to this crazy notion that we have to do things on our own. Maybe because we don’t want to inconvenience anyone or appear like we don’t have it all together. Well, I’m only three years into life as a Crusader and it’s like I must be in a time machine of sorts. I must have travelled back to that mystical time where parents weren’t alone in raising their kids, where the community around them was their family.
I started out wanting so badly to have my son in a school that would build him up in a Catholic setting, shape him into a godly boy and eventually young man. What I didn’t expect was that it would also dramatically shape me. That it would make me want to be a better wife, mom, neighbor, and friend. That it would show me exactly what it means to witness others around me be the hands and feet of Christ. That I would be so grateful for this new family in our lives. So, how do I do it? I do it, only because they, my new family, does what they do so very well.