I only made two resolutions for the new year: One I talked about here, and the other is praying a rosary before going to sleep each night.
I used to think it poor form to save my prayers for bedtime, like I was sending one last hail Mary (ha!) pass up to God, saying "Hey, I've ignored saying any formal prayers for much of this day, but before the clock strikes 12, here's one drowsy decade. And a Memorarae. And maybe an act of contrition in case I die in my sleep."
This year I've realized two things that have lightened my guilt load regarding prayer.
First, just because I'm not saying formal prayers during the day doesn't mean I'm ignoring the Lord. Quite the opposite. Frequently--FREQUENTLY--I'm asking the Lord for more patience in parenting, or asking Our Blessed Mother to be with people who are hurt or in trouble (as an ambulance races past our house), or begging St. Anthony to help me find my keys. Again.
Second, I've let go of the guilt I felt about praying before sleeping. Prayer from my bed before falling asleep may actually be the best place and time for me to offer my thanks, praise and petition to God.
In the morning, I'm a grump. For obvious kids-still-freaking-wake-up-during-the-night reasons, as well as why-do-kids-wake-up-at-5:55-a.m. reasons.
In the afternoon at nap time, I'm working. Ok yeah, I know, writing posts about Hobbes isn't really "working." But washing dishes or scrubbing mac 'n cheese off the table is work, and I do it over and over during the day.
In the evening and after kids are down, I watch and unwind with Sean. (We often pray together, but I think every person needs individual prayer time, too.)
Point being: Like every mom, my focus flits around during the waking hours and I rarely have moments of solitude.
But when I climb in to bed and clasp my rosary beads, and the room is dark and quiet, I can finally give God my undivided attention and love.
No phone to check. No pre-school questions to answer. No sweet faces to wipe clean; no other better-dressed moms to compare myself to, no mirrors to show me how tired I look by the end of the day. Not even a counter to clean or a speck of cheese to sweep up. (I swear, because it's one of the three foods he ever eats, Amby sheds cheese.)
For a long time, my stumbling block with prayer was what to envision while I prayed. I finally gave myself permission to just picture myself in church, looking at the tabernacle--I need not think of anything fancier than that. Or, I meditate on the image of Our Lady Untier of Knots, because God knows, we have a few knots that are real doozies.
A rosary no longer seems like an insurmountable mountain of Hail Marys, the recitation of which will put me to sleep. No, a rosary is finally five decades of prayer, peace, and quiet--almost a luxury. I can attribute this solely to grace in my life. What a gift.
After keeping it up for two weeks now, I'm amazed at how much better I've gotten at saying it. Can that be possible? That someone gets better at praying? If I think of praying as flexing a muscle, then of course. I used to scoff at that comparison. Now I get it.
Every night, I'm giving my final 15 minutes of energy to God. It's not the leftovers of my day. It's the last, and in my case, the best.