I have been cleaning my house for most of the day today. I always get annoyed when I do any level of real cleaning because inevitably the rooms I am not actively cleaning get trashed by the girls while I’m cleaning another section of the house. Then, I find something else frequently happens; I begin a dialogue in my head as to how I am somehow failing as a stay-at-home mother. If I have all this time at home, how am I unable to keep the house clean, have dinner cooked for my husband, nurture my girls into incredible women and somehow have time to pursue all that God is calling me to do. I think I could spend most of everyday cleaning and my house would never be clean. It’s like the laundry – never done. Even when I wash every piece of clothing in the laundry, we are still wearing clothes that will begin the cycle again. My tasks are continuous. They aren’t deadline driven. They just keep going, day in and day out. Wake up for quiet time, make breakfast, wash dishes, bathe girls (including me), make snack, clean house, make lunch, lunch dishes, more cleaning and picking up, put Juna down for a nap, write, make dinner, clean dinner dishes…Repeat.
Although I am continuously in motion, I never feel like I do enough. There is always something undone. How did the women do it a few decades ago? Have we been fed a myth that the houses were spotless, children bathed, perfect dinner on the table everyday? My mom was an incredible woman who lacked any lazy bones. When I was young, my family farmed as our livelihood. My mom talked about needing to get work done when we my two older brothers and I were all under the age of 4. She would put my two year old brother in the backpack on her back (because he liked to eat dirt) and put me as an infant in the front-pack and go out to do the farm work! Who does that?! Am I just being a wimp? My house is less that 1000 square feet. My yard is taken care of by gardeners. I only have two children. Why does it seem so hard?
I know I am not alone because when I talk to other mothers they all seem to be trying to figure out a system to make their days go smoothly and complete all their tasks. What I’ve also noticed is there is frequently a conflict within many mothers of wanting to be incredible moms and wives, but to also accomplish some other amazing feat. Maybe they are a career woman, maybe they want to start their own business, maybe they are pursuing an artistic endeavor. The list is endless. See, the modern woman has been told that not only can she have it all, but she should do it all. She should be the incredible homemaker of the 1950’s, the mother of endless educational opportunities for her children, the successful businesswoman, the fitness model, the nutrition expert, the computer whiz… Is it any wonder that most of us feel like we are falling short? Somehow failing to be all that we can be? Some of the women I know who are high-achievers at many things end up running themselves and their families ragged, racing from one thing to the next. I know some children, when given the choice of many fun activities, request to just stay home and chill-out because that is something special to them.
Where is this race to experience and accomplish everything leading our society? Have we become better for it? Is the level of joy and satisfaction increasing in our society? Is our productivity increasing? No! In fact, there is greater depression, greater levels of loneliness, greater levels of pharmaceutical use. We are falling staggeringly behind in our education levels. There is an incredible unrest and anger brewing in many people, which we see explode in abhorrent acts of violence and trauma.
Here is what you need to know: We need community and we need rest! Neither of these can be found racing from one activity to the next. When was the last time you sat down with a cup of coffee or tea and just quietly enjoyed drinking it while it was hot? Not while simultaneously preparing lunches, straightening your hair and driving down the freeway. Just calming your mind, your body, your spirit and enjoying the moment. I encourage you to take some time, even just 5 minutes, to sit quietly and have some true relaxation today. Then take a few minutes to speak with someone you love to see how they are doing, really doing. Not by text, or twitter or pinterest, but actually having a conversation. I know this will bring refreshment to your soul and help you gain perspective for the rest of your day! Be blessed!