Recently, my poor Kevin was up with a cough. It was one of those relentless, croupy coughs that all parents are familiar with and dread. After a long session in a steamy bathroom and several barfing incidents that left us with three extra load of laundry, he finally settled down. The cough subsided a bit and since his bed was not really fit for human occupation we brought him in to sleep with us.
There he was snuggled into the crook of his daddy's arm, my hand resting lightly on his chest and his arm resting over my hand. His breathing became more regular and I watched as he finally slipped into a restful sleep.
Several years ago a priest, whose homilies always taught me something, gave a great one about a time of night called third watch. That time when no one is awake except policemen, firemen, emergency workers, priests and mothers. He spoke of how on every third watch he covered he had to go out and minister to someone in their last hours and comfort those who mourned. Many people seem to die in the early hours of the day.
This priest said that mothers too were often up at this time tending to their sleepless children. Teething and colic; nightmares and strange sounds; tummy aches and sniffles. All conspire to keep parents from their regular and greatly needed slumber. He made the point that mothers could be a great resource of prayer at this time of night. They could do God's work so easily as they minister to their children.
His words came back to me last night as I watched my little one sleep. How I had, many times, used this time to say a rosary, offer up prayers for some intention or begged the Blessed Mother to intercede on my behalf, mostly for more sleep. I thought that maybe this time was ordained by God for mothers and fathers to offer up for those in need. Those who leave this world in the dead of night and are in desperate need of prayers. Maybe this time should be for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
So as I watched a little chest rise and fall and sweet little eyelids flutter I prayed for those who had no one to pray for them. I offered up my exhaustion and major laundry chores for those in purgatory. I contemplated those who didn't have a warm bed, a roof over their heads and a loving family. I asked God to protect them and the saints to pray for those who are alone.
When you are a busy mom you find it difficult to carve out time for prayer. There really can't be a contemplative time in the day that can be dedicated to Our Lord. So these little moments of quiet can become our prayer time. Maybe that's why a baby periodically needs a mother in the night. God is, perhaps, calling us to prayer. Perhaps these times He uses to call us to think of Him and to make our vocation of motherhood our constant prayer.