I read the following in Francis de Sales book "Thy Will Be Done: Letters to Persons in the World."
"In his holy Rule, St. Benedict writes of the abbot of the monastery:
'Let him realize also how difficult and arduous a task he has undertaken, of ruling souls and adapting himself to many dispositions. One he must honor, another rebuke, another persuade, according to each one's disposition and understanding, and thus adapt and accommodate himself to all in such a way that he may not only suffer no loss in the sheep committed to him, but may even rejoice in the increase of a good flock.'"
I thought this applied directly to mothering our children. I really did drink each word of this paragraph. We MUST realize how difficult this task is that is being asked of us. It is supposed to be hard. It is going to be hard.
I love especially the part regarding how with one temperament you must honor, another temperament you must constantly rebuke, some children will need to be persuaded. So very insightful into human temperament. It is often easy for me to forget that mothering is hard. I know that it is hard, but I am often tempted with thoughts that if I just worked harder, stayed up later, got more organized, and pushed myself more that it would go smoother and smoother each day. The nature of the vocation is constant service. Probably in reality, none of the above thoughts would assist much until I realize what St. Benedict was really saying.
Not only are we called to read the temperaments of our children, but we are also called to accommodate ourselves to each temperament. I write this as a note of comfort that this task of soul rearing is massive. I know that I need to stop blaming myself and challenging myself to outward goals above inward goals. I think most of the thoughts that come our way as mothers are from the devil. He knows that he can't get to us with direct temptations, but I think he gets to us with comparisons, outward temptations such as thoughts of lack of organization, inability to just get with it, fatigue, boredom, and not measuring up.
I smile at his words of "may even rejoice in the increase of a good flock."
These words meant a lot to me this week as I tried to balance the act of being a new mother again, being a mother to a newborn, being a mother to a son at his football game, listening to my daughters tell me their hopes for the day, patiently working with my 21 month old, wanting to just sit and listen to Vianney talk and learn. There is only one of me, just like there is only one abbot of a monastery. I cannot be all to all of them. Most days, I want to just sit and hold Damaris because I know that the newborn phase only lasts such a short while. I know Vianney would just love her mounds of books to just be read to her. Lillie is so full of things to tell me that I wish I had 24 ears to listen. Clairvaux would be in perfect happiness if I pushed her in the swing all day. Rose is content to sit close to me and hold my arm. Zellie is my social companion. If there is an errand to run, you can count on her. I see the world unfolding for Dominic each day and he is so eager to tell me about. I want to listen to every story. I really do.
I ask for the wisdom to know what is important each day and I pray that I do it.