I do not make New Year's resolutions really. They never stick. A new year just must not be a good enough reason for me to make changes. My minimal guilt over this is soothed by the time the Lenten season comes around. Ninety times out of one hundred, preparing myself for the Resurrection of Christ is the perfect reason to make some changes in my life.
In years past, I would try to give something up that I really liked during Lent in an effort to show God that even my most favorite food or activity was not as important to me as He is. I remember my worst attempt ever: in the fourth grade. My Grandpa had started driving us to school in the mornings, and like all fabulous grandpas he would have cookies for us. I tried giving up cookies that year, but Grandpa always brought my favorites: oatmeal raisin. It never occurred to me to just tell him my Lenten promise. So I caved, and decided that I was giving up donuts... except on Donut Wednesdays when Grandpa would give us money for donuts instead of bringing us cookies. At the end of Lent, I was plenty sugared up in the mornings and had a serious bout of Catholic guilt over my weakness. I felt awful.
Other years proved more successful: no cursing, no candy, no dining out, no pop... all things that were difficult and perhaps age appropriate. Now that I am a wife and mother, my understanding of Lent has matured.
Giving something up does not hold the same importance for me on its own. Last year, I was determined to stop cursing when I realized my oldest had the ability to finish my expletives even if I did not! So, I made things more complex. For every curse word I muttered, I would tack on a day of fasting. I had a few other Lenten promises as well, but this was my big stand. Three days into Lent I had seven days of fasting ahead of me, and two little ones to chase after all day. I managed to do half of the fasting, and then I caved and had to change tactics. It was a little much for a newbie long term faster! The cursing did slow down though, and my other promises helped me to feel rejuvenated and ready for Easter.
This year, I am pregnant for the first time during Lent, and I am a bit nervous! Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, and I am going to do my best to fast accordingly, even though I am technically exempt. I have set up a list of penitential acts in case I fumble a bit on the other Lenten promises I am making. (I would give you the list, but that seems a little out of sorts to me... I tend to do better when I make it about my relationship with God and not as much an outward display!) As I have been making the effort to abstain from meat on Fridays year around (though not always successfully) I have a stock pile of fresh and simple meatless dishes to make it through Lent. I feel prepared to prepare myself!
I am making plans to take the kids with me to Mass on Ash Wednesday as well. It is difficult for me to drag myself and the kids there without Husband, but this year I really want to start things right. Which brings me to a question for you all:
Have you ever taken your children to Stations of the Cross? I have not been in years, and I really want to try to go at least once this Lenten season. Any words of wisdom if you have taken children before?
Enjoy Fat Tuesday!