For a really long time I was trying to do what I thought of as Big Picture Parenting.
I didn't really know how or even if I would be able to reach that goal but I decided I'd just do my best, keep them fed, relatively clean, teach them their prayers, and have them play outside a little every day and with a wing and a prayer they'd end up that way.
But in the quiet and the still I was also worried, and confused. I had always been a great babysitter, which made me think I'd be a great mom. But I really wasn't and over the last five years I've wondered many times why I wasn't a great mom. What had happened to the fun young woman who would act silly, be patient with mistakes, be okay with a mess, and be willing to do something spur of the moment and fun? I kept trying to pray more, to go to confession more, to try to rely on Christ's strength but I just wasn't getting any better. If this was a cross that I was given to grow in holiness, well I just was not doing it.
Then one day a couple of months ago I realized that while I was not necessarily depressed I was angry, anxious, and stressed; I had postpartum depression, perhaps with a little bit of post traumatic stress disorder. So I began treatment and after three weeks of medication I noticed something:
set aside my pride and get medical help so that my mind and body would be well enough to work with the grace He was wanting to give me.)
For the first few weeks I would catch myself reacting graciously and generously to my children and I'd mentally pull back from the moment. "Aha!" I'd shout in my head, "This is the medication working." I could see how loved they felt. I could see them relax because they could get it wrong and it would be okay - I'd let them try again and not flip my lid. Life and motherhood still tested my patience and allowed for the opportunity to grow in virtue but it was manageable.
So now I'm trying a new approach to parenting: Little Moment Parenting. (It's what I call it in my head, as I remind myself of what I need to do.)