Lullaby and Good Night

By Rita Buettner
The house is quiet and still for the first time all day. The dishwasher hums, the toys lie scattered and forgotten on the floor, and I have to destroy a fort in the living room to reassemble our couch.
Our children are asleep.
In the busyness of our lives, as we balance school and work and meals and homework and play, some days fly by, while others creep slowly on. But eventually each day comes to this moment of quiet when I can pause and think.
It’s then, in the peace and the dim evening light, that I feel the enormity of my role as a mother. It is a wonderful responsibility, one I embrace with my whole heart, one I thank God for every single day, but so often I fall short.
Today was one of those days. I find myself looking back at the day.
Could I have been more patient when the boys were spinning in circles as I tried to brush their teeth? Did I ask the right questions about how their school days went? Did I take the time to hold each of them close, even if just for a few minutes? Did they go to sleep tonight feeling loved, understood and heard?
Nighttime brings time to reflect on my day. In the darkness and the quiet I find questions and clarity. I ask myself whether I was too strict or not strict enough. I wonder whether we should have spent more time on homework – or less. I talk to God and ask for more patience, for understanding, and for the strength and wisdom to be the wife and mother he expects me to be.
Day after day, I fail. Night after night, I promise our Father in heaven I will try to do better the next day. He knows I will fail yet again, but he also knows, and I tell him again and again, that I will certainly try.
I slip into our sons’ bedroom. I rearrange covers, move stuffed animals, and watch our boys sleep. It seems impossible that just a few hours earlier these peaceful children could have been arguing with each other or wrestling on the living room floor. With their eyes closed and hair falling softly on their foreheads, favorite stuffed animals nearby, they are angelic.
“I love you,” I whisper, even though they are deep in sleep. It is important to me to tell them often and by name. So I do.
I think of my promise to God. How amazing that he has faith in me, in each of us, that we can and may do better tomorrow. How extraordinary that he loves us so deeply despite – or even with – our failings, our mistakes and our sins. How is it possible that his love would lead our Lord and Savior to die for us on the cross? 
As I smooth the blankets on our children’s beds, I think of my love for them and for their father. I marvel at how God’s love for me is so merciful – and how he gives me the chance to understand that love as a parent myself. God has entrusted my husband and me with these young minds, hearts and souls who have the potential to love and serve God in ways I can only imagine.
Tomorrow will come. There will be skirmishes and giggles, sunshine and storms, joy and sorrow. I will do my best to be the mother our children deserve, the mother I am called to be.
Then tomorrow night, in the quiet, I’ll make another promise to our children and our heavenly Father that I will try to be more the next day.
I’m so grateful that, day after day, he gives me that chance. 

Read Buettner’s blog, Open Window, here.

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.