Monday, April 13, 2015
When Easter Feels Harder Than Lent
There is so much talk about Lent. Offering things up, focusing on penance and fasting bringing us closer to God, embracing the difficult alongside Christ's suffering on the cross. And all that talk of Lent is good! As a mom of young kids it's great and hopeful to hear that my small insignificant discomforts, sacrifices, or difficulties are redeemed when offered alongside Jesus. It gives all the miserable and difficult things in daily life with small people a dignity and light that I usually ignore altogether. But what about Easter? It's not just a one day event, it's given 50 days of celebration and observance by the Church each and every year because it is the thing that matters. But what happens when our days don't look like Easter?
I didn't give up anything extreme or take up a rigorous spiritual discipline this Lent. I talked it over with my spiritual director and concluded that I was barely getting through the daily grind of 5 small people in my care, the need to take on more to embrace suffering seemed superfluous at best, and unfair to everyone else at worst. I was supposed to focus more one the little everyday things: like looking to stop snapping at the fiftieth request for water during a 15 minute period, or gracefully living through the meal-time tantrums, or having patience when no one could find their shoes or zip up jackets when we were supposed to be out the door ten minutes ago. As moms we don't have to go to look for sackcloth and ashes because there's always a rogue virus or another ear infection to require constant, unrelenting attention and compassion and unknown hours of lost sleep and the incurring exhaustion. There's not a lot more self-mortifying than dealing with diaper disasters, or the umpteenth bathroom "accident" in your normal day. Lent happens all the time around us in our own homes, provided by our own offspring.
But what happens after Easter Sunday? We're supposed to embrace our new life, rejoice in Christ's triumph over sin, see renewal in our souls and our lives. And yet...our days look identical to Lent. We still deal with, day in and day out, the same small annoyances, the same challenges to embrace love when it's difficult, the same bathroom messes.
I'm trying to find Easter renewal as a mom. But the weariness of the constant life as mom has no room for renewal. There are no "days off" or even time off the mounting laundry or the three meals a day that are always needed. Renewal and new life seem to mean something drastic and changing, or at least some kind of visible change from the days of fasting and penance, don't they? Tell that to the mom who still has sick kids, still wakes up three times a night to nurse her baby, still gets up everyday to face the whining and tantrums.
I believe in Easter. I believe in the miraculous and astounding fact of the Resurrection. I know that this Resurrection and promise of new life completely transforms. I know the miracle of new life as I've held my newborn baby and felt my breath taken away. New life is staggering and marvellous. It changes things.
But that's why Easter is so hard when our outward situation, our outward circumstances have no reflection of our spiritual reality of our liturgical year. We've got to admit it's not even just us moms who have it rough, it's the human condition. It's so much easier for us to see the difficult and sufferings rather than the joys and triumphs.
But we're an Easter people, we all have to figure out how to live the joy of the Resurrection. I don't know how to do that right now to be honest. I'm not sure how I change what I've been seeing for all of Lent (and all my life) as annoyances, frustrations, and sufferings to things that should be taken with joy. I'm not saying that an attitude will change how hard and downright crumby all those things can be. But I do want to find renewal, somehow even in the midst of all this...mothering that never ceases. It might take me more years, my whole mothering career, my whole life. This is one of the reasons why the Church celebrates Easter every single year for 50 days. It takes practice for all of us.
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