Rough start

Day one of trying to "overflow my childrens' love tanks yesterday.  Result?  Not so good.  I went to bed Thursday night, thinking of how much I love my kids, of my many failures of the day, and planning just how I would start a new day with a smile, a happy heart, and the patience of Job.  My alarm went off at 6:15, and by 6:16 I'm pretty sure I already had a scowl on my face.  Well, maybe it wasn't quite that early, but it didn't take long to get irritated with one event or attitude or complaint or fight.  I did a good job of keeping my cool about all of it, but certainly didn't offer anyone an extra hug or any words of affirmation.  On the way to school, things were calm with occasional reminders that if something is said, it needs to be uplifting.  Our last 30 seconds together in the car though did not go well, and it isn't a good feeling to let someone out of the car, knowing I won't talk to them for 8 hours, and wishing I could put those hurtful words back in my mouth and swallow so they would just disappear.  I did have the chance to quietly mouth an appology across the back of church before mass started which was received with a smile and a reciprocal silent "I forgive you" which in turn opened up the tear floodgates for me for the next 10 minutes.

"God", I said while on my knees staring at his Son hanging on that cross, "WHY???  Why do I make the same mistakes over and over and over again?  I don't want to.  I'm sincerely sorry and I beg your forgiveness, and yet I know I will be on my knees again very soon asking for you for the same thing."  "Lord, you would never think of treating your children this way.  I want them to see YOU in me."

My prayers have been consistant, they have been frequent, they have been sincere and straight from my heart.  I go in spurts it seems.  At times my prayer life will be embarrassingly invisible--undetectable, other than the routine memorized prayer that is likely at those times said without even realizing I'm saying anything.  Then, I'll step it up a notch, finding the time at points throughout my day to say a quick prayer.  Eventually, I find myself making time in my day for deliberate prayer that is full of content.  Full of thanksgiving, praise, requests for myself and for others...mostly for others and then finally I do remember to ask for me...for my intentions and petitions.  And what happens?  In my experience, when I pray harder, Satan interferes even more, and I resist for a while, but often concede, feeling defeated.  I'm not saying I resort to just being bitter and angry, I just end up falling back to the routine of my memorized prayer...praying a general prayer to blanket everything I can think of.  Going through the motions.  I'm sure Satan celebrates many small victories, knowing my desire for a fervant and sincere prayer life that is put on hold AGAIN. 

I have given this much thought.  This is a big undertaking, but one that if I don't give up, don't give in and most importantly if I approach everyday as a new day and can forget my failings of yesterday and pick myself up, brush myself off and dig in again, I will be successful.  I'm not being unrealistic.  I realize this is not simply a 40 day and then I'm done kind of a challenge.  My children know they're loved, I just want them to feel it as well. 

It is 9:30 on Saturday morning.  I am not at home.  I dropped Jakob and Joshua off at a babysitting class at the hospital at 8:30.  Julia is with the rest of the kids, Tim is at work.  Everyone was up when I left.  Everyone got a hug without a word this morning from me.  (Typically it would be a hug followed by a statement about whatever they didn't do right or what they could do better).  This morning, just an "I love you".  It was a far cry from 4 minutes of quality "start your day" time, rather 4 seconds, but it was different than yesterday.  "Father, soften my heart, increase my patience, help me to be gentle in my touch and my words.  Thank you for these beautiful children."