Why does it get harder to smile the older I get?
by Rita Davidson
Do you find it hard to smile? Are you surprised to find yourself smiling one day, only because you don’t remember the last time you smiled ?
Well, I think it’s a dilemma Catholic moms all face at some point. While for some of us smiling comes easier. I’m thinking Sanguine temperaments here.
But I think it’s a condition of a tired, overworked, worn out mom. Many little children under her feet. Running a home and homeschooling. Bringing in harvests and correcting school work. Cooking up meals and nursing babies. We wake up one day, 10 years after our wedding day, saying, "what happened?"
It’s true once we get married and start a family, life just starts moving faster. But as it does, our smile seems to get forgotten. Billy’s broken leg, the mortage payment, hubby’s lost job, the van that needs fixing, the leak in the roof. What is there to smile about ?
The running to and from the store, to and from activities, to and from the doctor, we just all are left, well, ragged.
But problem is when we leave our smile behind our whole family suffers.
As children grow they don’t understand all the suffering involved with running a home. They need to feel secure and that security comes from seeing mama is happy. daddy on the other hand, has worries of his own. He too worries about Billy’s broken leg, and Emma’s fever last night. He knows he must work overtime to make enough to pay that van repair. He too has his own worries.
Then he comes home and mama is cranky and the kids are cranky his day is crushed. Mama looks to him for some hope since she hasn’t found reason to smile all day, and when his hopes are dashed, it’s a revolving circle.
Now just take for a second what the devil thinks of this? He is in the corner laughing at this family who is too caught up in their life, and troubles and missing out on the blessings of their family. "Just where I want them he chuckles " if I can’t make them sin, I can at least take the joy from their family!"
So what is the solution?
Well, it’s not an easy one. Have you ever had to force a smile for a teacher, or a priest, or someone, because you didn’t feel well, but didn’t want to ruin their day? Remember when we were young it was hard to do that, but as we got a little older, and wanted to make a good impression we learned how to put ourselves behind us, and smile anyhow.
Let me tell you my story;
We learned early to put our troubles behind us, when visiting non-Catholic friends and family. Even though well meaning, it didn’t take long for a remark here and there to give us an idea of their thoughts of the Catholic Faith. We learned we had to be careful. It was all they needed to see us struggle and they would blame our faith. So, I learned early how to put on a ‘smile’ when it wasn’t really a happy time. In time I realized a secret. That it was possible to be sorrowful, it was possible to be sad, and to be smiling too. It wasn’t hypocritical, it was more a dying to the self. A dying to your own feelings and doing only what you ‘feel’ like.
Feelings are fleeting and really do not have much place in the life of a Catholic. If the martyrs operated on their ‘feelings’ do you think they would have allowed their fingers to be chewed off by savages as St. Issac Jogues did?
You see as adults, we have to grow beyond our feelings. They are not an indication of anything. If we drink a little too much, and we feel happy, are we really happy? No, we just ‘feel’ happy because the drink makes us forget our problems. You see?
There is this problem of pride. Oftentimes we get in a rut, and find it hard to smile. The longer we go without smiling the harder it is. Moping, brooding, is common in children, but can be with adults too. Melancholics are especially prone to this kind of pride. But we can all be guilty of it. This is another reason why we must work to put our troubles behind us, and learn to die to ourselves. A good way to do that is to smile.
St. Teresa of Avila, was known to say, "May God protect me from gloomy saints"
And so today, we have to grow in our faith, we have to die to ourself and say, I will smile today, even though I feel unwell. It is a humbling experience, and not one everyone might like at first. But unless we become like little children, it is said, we have no chance of heaven. And a great strike against that old pride, that we are fighting with everyday.
I will smile today, even though I have a headache.
I will smile today, even though I’m worried about the bills, and the kids, and my health.
I will smile today, because my children deserve to have a smiling mama, who can give them security and prove to them how much she loves them because she smiles when it’s hard. When they look back at all their crosses growing up, they will remember, ‘ah, but mama was always happy’. And they will, smile.
And daddy needs a smiling wife, so he is supported in his own crosses and then can be a support to mama.
A smiling mama and daddy will show their children how much they love each other. How much they sacrificed of themselves to give the children a happy childhood. Isn’t this the ideal way to imitate the Holy Family in your family? Isn’t this the best way to give a good example to others of living the Catholic faith in the world ?
We cannot wait for life to get better to smile. We cannot wait for times to get easier to smile. Our children are growing now, and eternity is swiftly approaching. It is today, that we must put our troubles behind us, and give them the example of a heroic Catholic life. With just a smile.
What do you have to smile for today ?
(c)Copyright 2012 Rita Davidson All Rights Reserved.
Rita is a Catholic wife and mother of seven children. She reverted back to the faith when her oldest was making her First Communion. By then, she had completed degrees in Hairdressing and Make up artistry. She went on to receive a degree in Natural Health and another degree in Art. At age 26, Rita suffered a minor stroke. With no lasting effects, this dramatically changed her outlook on life. In 1996, Rita began ‘Little Flowers Family Apostolates’ to reach out to other families with her new found faith, by creating unique Catholic books and resources.. In 1999, she wrote the bestselling, ‘Immodesty; Satan’s Virtue’. She was editor of ‘The Catholic Health Letter’ for 7 years. She has been a homeschooling mom for 20+ years, and has written for various magazines. She is honored that families have trusted her with their questions, needs and concerns over the years. She continues to write and reach out to Catholic families with her husband, Mark and their 4 boys through