Planting seeds of faith in motherhood

“Rose ree! Rose ree!” My toddler squirmed out of my arms, attempting to reach for my rosary after hearing the beads clink together in the dark. Like most nights, I handed the rosary over to him and counted with my fingers instead. He instantly calmed down, nursed for a moment, and then promptly fell asleep, clutching Jesus in his little hand.

It’s moments like these when I’m reminded that living out our faith is the way we influence our children the most — and it’s something I’m keenly aware of as a convert who rejected these traditions for so many years.

Little holy moments of faith

Our oldest child, who was recently baptized, still remembers attending a Protestant church and getting dropped off in the children’s ministry while my husband and I attended the service without her. She remembers church being a fun place where she got to play with other kids and watch silly videos. It took her a while to get used to sitting in Mass with us, especially once the novelty wore off and she realized it wasn’t as “entertaining” as our old church. But for our son, Holy Mother Church is all he has ever known.

We started the process of joining the Church shortly after he was born. He attended our first Mass with us, wrapped snugly in a carrier close to my chest. Now, at almost two, he’ll point to a crucifix and sweetly exclaim “Jesus!” and sing along to “Salve Regina” on the way to the grocery store.

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As holy as those little moments are, it can be so easy to compare ourselves to others. When we see other children behaving better than ours in Mass. When our kids don’t seem to understand the Faith as well as other kids their age. When we can’t seem to get the whole family to sit still for even one decade of the rosary. We might ask ourselves, “Will any of this stick?,” praying that our imperfect parenting is enough to send them on the right path.

And yet, even in all the messiness of life, our children are paying attention. They see when we pray first thing in the morning. They see when we ask God for help in our suffering. They see the grace that radiates from us when we leave confession. They see how we apologize and ask for forgiveness when we lose our temper. Even when we may struggle to see the significance of these moments while they’re happening, they impact our children more than we realize.

Embracing the physical and the spiritual

As a convert, I think back to all the years when our daughter didn’t have any faith traditions to cling to. There were no images in our home to remind her of our faith. There were no prayers to memorize that she could repeat herself. There were no brave saints to look up to. While we did pray together at times and read our Bibles, the lack of tangible elements made it difficult for her to connect with our faith.

The beauty of the Catholic faith is that it acknowledges both the spiritual and the physical. Baptism isn’t just a symbol, and yet we still have the physical matter of the water. The Eucharist isn’t just a symbol, and yet we have (before the consecration) the physical matter of the bread and wine.

No loving parent would deny their child physical love and affection. Study after study has shown the importance of physical touch, even for infants. If physical touch is so essential for a child’s development, why should we deny our children the physical elements of our Christian faith?

Planting seeds of faith in motherhood requires physical and spiritual elements as well. Pray out loud, even when your kids aren’t paying attention. Keep them in Mass with you, even when they’re fussing and won’t sit still. Fill your home with reminders of Our Lord, the Blessed Mother and the saints in heaven.

Motherhood isn’t easy, and if you’re wondering whether all the little things you’re teaching your child matter, take heart. Keep watering the seeds you’ve planted and praying for your children. Even the smallest things have eternal significance.

If you’ve struggled to teach your children the Faith or feel like you’re behind, know that it’s never too late to start. Making such a drastic change in faith with little ones in tow wasn’t easy, but every Mass we attended got a little bit easier. Our daughter does remember our life before we became Catholic, but she embraces the Faith we have now.

Let us be diligent in planting seeds of faith on this journey of motherhood. As we continue to walk the path of holiness, our children will follow.

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