WARWICK — Mothers have a way of untying the knots of the problems we manage to create, Pope Francis said in a recent Tweet. Like many mothers, the Blessed Mother, he shared, has a way of “teaching us to stand upright in the midst of storms.”
As families face the storms of everyday life within the current pandemic, which has brought unique challenges of its own, local Catholic mothers offer comfort and insight on how to manage during these challenging times.
Christina Frye is the founder of Catholic Mom Rhode Island, a community for Catholic mothers in the Ocean State to nurture and support families and themselves through faith, hope and love. She finds that spending time outside, whether it’s in the backyard, or a small walk around the neighborhood, can make a huge difference in relieving anxieties — especially taking time to pray the Rosary as a family to ask for Mary’s help and peace.
“It has tremendously helped all of us to get some fresh air, have fun, laugh and play. As a family, we went on a 'Rosary Walk' in our neighborhood and prayed for the world, our neighborhood, community and our family.”
Frye, who has two children, Joey, 4, and Sofia, 1, reminds parents to try to be mindful of how they discuss the current situation with their little ones, especially navigating difficult questions.
“Joey keeps asking when the virus will go away,” she said.
“Try to be as positive as possible. It is a good way to teach good hygiene, hand washing, why we need to take care of our bodies, have respect and pray for nurses, doctors, first responders and to also pray for others who may be sick.”
Her family has found this extended time at home to be a greater opportunity for prayer.
“We have been streaming the Mass almost every day thanks to the wonderful priests in our diocese and across the world,” said Frye. “These are trying times but we are still able to come together spiritually during the Mass, the Rosary and other prayers.”
Angela Barek, a parishioner of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Bristol, is mom to four girls, ages 11, 9, 6, and 5. As a homeschooling family, the educational adjustment hasn’t been that difficult, but Barek shared that with her girls involved in many activities such as dance, art, sewing classes as well as the local American Heritage Girls troop, it has been tough for them to lose all of their activities and lose contact with family and friends so abruptly.
“They are all grieving and adjusting to it in different ways. I definitely noticed that they have been more emotionally worn out, wanting to sleep more and prone to whining and complaining more than usual — just like all of us adults are too, I suppose!”
But more time at home has also had some positives.
“We are enjoying a less hurried pace and less daily running around,” said Barek. “We have made lots of time for crafts, cooking together and listening to audiobooks. I have been grateful for more outside time. I’ve noticed a sense of a timelessness to their outdoor play and playtime in general. There hasn’t been the usual rush of having to be somewhere at a certain time so that has been a blessing.”
Katelyn Holt, a parishioner of St. Gregory the Great in Warwick, also shared that even though this time is difficult, there have been benefits for her family.
“We have enjoyed every meal together, there isn’t a rush to make food or eat quickly. There’s no place to go, just the present moment,” she said. “We also pray as a family, this gives our daughter reassurance and also reminds her of her school.”
She added that there have also been a lot of laughs between her two children, ages 5 and 2.
“Just seeing their relationship blossom has been worth all the extra stress going on in the world. So far my favorite memory has been playing bubbles in the rain because it was a day I was extra stressed, but the kids were just happy outside in the rain with bubbles. It was a magical moment.”
With the changes in the kids’ routine, Holt finds it’s important to give her daughter the space to ask questions.
“Every so often I see her mood shift and I know our stress has gotten to her, so I just try to be present and provide reassurance. They need a safe space and to be safe at home. This is something I can control at this time — we can give them a happy, loving home.
This time won’t last forever, shared Holt, and encouraged parents to cherish these nontraditional moments that will turn into memories to look back on.
“We’ll never get this opportunity again to have so much time with our children. Soak it up,” she said. “Take care of yourselves too.”