Friday, August 16, 2013

When Motherhood Feels Like Endless Work

Does the state of your closets and cupboards make you feel like a failure?

Mine do.

My mother is coming to visit and all my closets and cupboards are a wreck. And my father-in-law will be living with us soon, too. I need to make room for whatever he might bring, and yet we have no garage or basement and the shed, which is good-sized, just might still have mice so we only use it for the lawnmower, lawn tools and bikes.

I worked on two closets today...the worst two. They look great now but I have to decide what to give away and what to keep. Should I keep a second shower curtain on hand, or not? Should I save the kids' old comforters for really cold nights, as extra padding?

What is hoarding, exactly? Is it thinking you might use something someday, even though tomorrow hasn't been written yet? What about when the kids move out and I want different coverings on the beds? Shouldn't I save something to use then, or is that hoarding?  Should I trust God to provide guest-bed type coverings when the nest is empty?

Sorting through clutter is hard work and the temporary mess that results is stressful with curious kids getting into the piles, pleading with you to keep this and that.

And the folding of laundry. Till I reach the grave, that may remain one of my failures.

Sometimes I get so behind on folding laundry that I rent a movie from the library and we watch it as a family while I fold. Occasionally I even get help this way from hubby. During school the children help with folding but somehow that's fallen by the wayside with a school break upon us.

Tonight I did it differently. After the kids went to bed I watched Anne of Green Gables, The Sequel. I had so much folding that it took me all of one side of the DVD to finish my baskets.

At the end Anne kissed Gilbert and she said she didn't want a fancy house...just him. And I cried.

I cried for the Boston guy she rejected. I cried for her student, Emmeline, who would miss her so much.

Then I felt melancholy about Ann starting out a new life as a writer and then a wife. I want to feel that again.

Often marriage and kids feel like work. The romanticism passes away. The incredible excitement of getting engaged and having such hope for the future seems like eons away from my daily life now. I've done so much work today, for example...almost non-stop.

There's always so much work around the house, and so much work discipling my blessings. It's hard to find the time to enjoy just being with the kids.

The key to joy in the midst of very hard work is what?

I ask myself this question so often, and I work hard to answer it for myself too. And yet, the answer doesn't stay with me. Sometimes the dread of all the work feels bigger than the answer.

And then quiet time will come; God will speak his love into my heart. He will fulfill me for that hour, for that day, and suddenly I'm not thinking about the work anymore. I'm just thinking about bringing my first love, Jesus, his due glory. He loves a servant's heart and when I work without dread, when I work with a will to enjoy serving, he is glorified.

Yes, marriage and family are work. The intense joy over getting just the guy you always wanted passes away as you get dirty socks and underwear unrolled and ready for their bleaching.

Do you know that's my least favorite job? Unrolling yucky, filthy, germ-infested socks and underwear.

But everytime I pass them from the dryer to a basket, I'm amazed at the transformation. Fresh smell with all the caked-mud long gone. All the germs washed away.

When I feel melancholy about the work in my life, it's sin. When I want something more than the mundane, it's ingratitude. God knows how grateful I really am about my husband and children being here with me, sharing love and sorrow and joy and pain.

I get to be a mom and wife and I'm so excited about that, still.

Like the socks and underwear, I just need a soapy-bleachy wash to take me back to holiness.

That's what quiet time is, isn't it? A good soapy-bleachy wash? We come out white as snow, smelling so fresh, hearts ready to serve with a smile.

I love my life and my Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15:58Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

John 6:27Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.


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