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Prayer in the heat of the moment

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

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I have to admit, I felt pretty overwhelmed. My new baby girl was quite demanding, almost around the clock, and I didn't feel up to the challenge of caring for her. My husband was doing more than his fair share of baby duty. Within about nine months, however, she had developed an unnatural attachment to him and would become almost hysterical when he wasn't around.

My husband has his own business and gets calls from clients in the evenings. During these calls, he would retreat to a quiet corner of our small apartment. My daughter would grow anxious because Daddy wasn't available, and she would cry and scream for the duration of the phone call. My efforts to calm her down just made her more upset. I felt rejected and useless.

I'd had some success praying my way through relationship issues before, so I began praying about this one. During moments of quiet communion with God while no one else was around, I felt peaceful and even competent as a parent. But those feelings would vanish immediately in the evening when I was confronted again with my daughter's hysterical behavior.

I knew I actually needed to pray even during those moments, but it seemed like a Herculean task. Self-pity (was I so bad a mom that my own daughter wasn't comforted by me?) overwhelmed my impulse to pray, and I would put my thoughts on autopilot until the scene was over.

An idea from "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy was key in the turnaround of our family life. I felt that selflessness was being demanded of me but that I was not mature enough to be selfless. I was constantly teetering back and forth between how I wanted to be as a mother (selfless and giving) and how I saw myself acting (immaturely and prone to self-pity).

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