The annual Lenten crash and burn

Jenny Uebbing

Well, well, well.

We all saw this one coming. At least I presume most of you fine people did, along with my husband and my entire extended family (we're close knit like that).

Bottom line: committing to a radical total-life overhaul is the number one recommended way to screw up New Years... and Lent. And to do it while pregnant? Even better! That way there's plenty of hormonal support for those lofty goals, fueled by prenatal appointments and late-night Pinterest binge sessions on Paleo meal planning and having "the best pregnancy ever."

I lack self knowledge. Let no one question that.

I also lack humility, apparently, and what better way to remedy that than to admit crushing defeat 9 days into 47?

So the Lenten Whole 40. Um, no. It's not going ... well. We're eating decent, low carb dinners and staying away from sugars and dessert, but other than that, I have utterly failed. First it was the occasional spoonful of crunchy peanut butter to supplement that morning banana. Then it was the occasional glass of whole milk "for the baby."

And the only thing less impressive than no finishing this stupid endeavor would be to fail to cop to it here. So, my name's Jenny, and I failed my Lenten sacrifices.

At least, I failed at the ones I picked for myself.

Oh my gosh, it's so predictable and it's so stupid, but it's kind of the same way I feel when I go back to Confession time and time again for the same exact sins, the same exact issues.

I can't do it on my own.

And when I fail to take His plans into account, I fail. Every time.

Oddly enough, the little penances He chose on my behalf, the sleepless nights with sick kids (Again! Again with the ear infections! A pox on this winter!), the teeth-gritting Mommy 'n Me decade of the Rosary in the mornings, the endlessly melodic soundtrack of an almost-three-year-old's chronic whining...well those sacrifices are going great.

Seriously, I haven't missed a day yet.

And yesterday I even had the opportunity to re-mop a delicately steam-cleaned kitchen floor when a sweet little somebody barfed up her antibiotics over the side of her high chair.

I'm so lucky.

I mean that. Because look, if I had been relying entirely on my great ideas and lofty goals for self improvement, this Lenten season would already be DOA. And it is. My Lent is dead in the water.

But the one He had in mind for me? It's in full swing.

More time spent in prayer, because I'm drowning and I need His grace to make it till bedtime.

Healthier meals and wiser choices in the grocery store. Because my sane and stable husband is doing marvelously well in his efforts to eat clean. And I'm in charge of the meal planning round here.

Growth in the virtue of patience. Because 4, 3, 1, and 16 weeks in utero. And all very needy. (Though all the small one wants is Cool Ranch Doritos, truth be told. Bad baby.)

Tons of opportunity to grow in humility. Literally, tons. Because my pants don't fit now that, once again, the beautiful soul-stretching work of bringing a new body into the world is destroying mine in the process.

Hello, Lent which was meant for me. It's nice to make your acquaintance.

Sorry I'm a week and a half late, it's just that I haven't bothered to look up from my plans until now. But I'm chastened and deflated and feeling much more teachable.

And I promise I'm going to try really, really hard and take my own advice in future years and just accept the Lent that has been handily laid before me, custom crafted for my own particular vices and weaknesses, and not try to concoct one on my own that is so lofty, so fantastically challenging that I've literally no hope of seeing it through.

I'm listening now. And, yeah, I'm eating cheese.

Topics: lent , Motherhood , Parenting

Jenny Uebbing is the content director of our marriage and family life channel, where her blog Mama Needs Coffee will be permanently hosted. She lives in Denver, CO with her family, where she writes and speaks on Church teachings on marriage, contraception, NFP and bioethics.


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