My second daughter’s first holy communion is coming up, and everything was planned for, ordered, and ready months in advance. The flower crown came, the veil, the gift… everything arrived smoothly, except her dress. The dress was unexpectedly delayed by an uncertain number of weeks. 

I’ve always promised myself I would not be one of the moms who was fixated on the dress and the party for First Holy Communion, but there I was, silently panicking that her dress wouldn’t come. As the date drew closer, I swiftly descended from politely asking to sloppily begging God for it to arrive on time. And the Lord, in His mercy, and answered my petty prayer— the dress did come. But when my daughter tried it on, it didn’t fit correctly. It needed seamstress work beyond my rudimentary sewing skills. The zipper pull split in half despite the dress being slightly big. Here I was, mere days before the sacrament, almost in tears over this dress, thinking little about what it was for.

There is always a “dress” in motherhood. Something always needs mending, tending, or nurturing. It’s alarmingly easy to let the work of motherhood eclipse the mission of motherhood. But we have to be prepared for distractions that inevitably come, and find ways to keep our minds and hearts fixed on Jesus in the midst of them. 

When I first became a mother, I was unprepared for being constantly distracted. I was still trying to pray like I had when I was single, but found myself feeling further and further from the Lord. I found and met with a spiritual director who challenged me. After I explained how I was praying and how dry and empty it felt, he said, “I mean, have you considered that you’re trying to pray like a monk despite having a job, a husband, and two young children? Prayer is not fodder for your life — your life is fodder for your prayer.” 

My prayer can’t be something that I keep just for myself, apart from my daily life. It has to be woven into every band-aid, every snack, every drop off. Those things don’t feel prayerful, but taking time to say, “Jesus, this is for you. Help me bring you glory” makes all the difference. It helps me remember that our home is a holy place, where we hope saints are being made. 

This dress was a lot like my prayer life feels as a mom sometimes: It was late to the game. It was half-done in places. Something seems ill-fitted. But in the end, the dress was just a vessel for something infinitely greater: my daughter’s sacramental intimacy with Jesus in the Eucharist. In the end, our prayer as moms may be sloppy, interrupted, and not quite what we expected it to be. But Jesus is inviting us into a deep intimacy in the midst of those imperfect moments. All we have to do is accept his invitation, and consecrate our mess to Him.