I've been thinking lately about what it means to raise children. More specifically, what it means to build God's kingdom inside the walls of your home.
When I was dating and talking about marriage with my husband, we talked a lot about how we wanted to build God's kingdom together. In fact, when he proposed he even said "I want to build God's kingdom with you."
But honestly. What does that even mean?
Raising children is hard. And in my opinion, raising saints is even harder.
Recently, I read a quote that said "it is not a parent's responsibility to have Godly children. It is a parent's responsibility to make sure their children have Godly parents."
I was always led to believe that my purpose as a wife and mother was to get my spouse and my children to Heaven. That's it. So, at the end of the day, if I can go to bed knowing I did my best to fulfill that, then I called it a good day, even if it was sprinkled with meltdowns and tantrums.
But according to this, it wasn't my job to make sure my children are saints. It's my job to live a holy life, and hope and pray that my example leads them to become saints.
I couldn't stop thinking about this concept. How can someone say it isn't my job to make sure my children are with me in Heaven?? If it's not my job, then who's job is it?!
But as I prayed and reflected on it, I realized that my job is to love my spouse and my children the way Jesus loves me. And that means loving them no matter what; meeting them where they are; and above all, never ever forcing it.
How can I tell my children to make Jesus a priority if I'm not doing it myself? How can I tell them to pray through the good and the bad times when I'm not doing it myself?
"Seek YE FIRST the Kingdom of God..."
How can I build God's kingdom if I'm not even seeking it out myself?
When I became a mother, I adopted the concept that even if I don't make it to Heaven, I'll know I did a good job if my kids are there. Isn't that what being selfless is all about?
But it's not my responsibility to make sure they have a reserved seat. It's my responsibility to help them make the choices to get them there.
I can't force my children to love Jesus. I can't force them to love the Church and all of her teachings. I can't even force them to love me.
And what kind of love is that if it is forced anyway?
Do y'all know who Saint Monica is? Look her up. Because she's amazing. And she's the perfect example of this.
Her son, Saint Augustine, is a very well-known saint. But here's the thing. He didn't become a saint because Saint Monica continuously wrote letters to the Pope.
He wasn't grandfathered in as a saint because his mom became one first.
He actually wasn't leading that good of a life, so what did his mother do? Pray. Every moment she could. Because she knew prayers were the only thing that would help him.
Not her forcing him to Church. Or to pray the rosary. Or spend time in Adoration.
She prayed. And loved him. She let him make his own decisions and prayed for God to give him the graces he needed to get to Heaven.
And that's all we can do as parents, isn't it? Pray for our children, and pray that our example is enough.
Because honestly, a parent's job is a lot like Moses's job. Preparing our people for a promised land we may not get to see. And to me, there's no better reward.