I have read tons of articles about balancing time and priorities, but what my friend Sarah posted on Facebook the other day really made me stop and think. It is an important message to all parents. She focuses on her daily duties as a stay-at-home mom, but where she says cleaning and cooking she could just as easily be mentioning any task that competes with our children for our attention. Thank you, Sarah, for your willingness to share this on Simply Rebekah!
I am beginning to learn that the days when I get ‘nothing done’ (except, you know, little things, like changing diapers, making meals, cleaning up messes, comforting a grumpy baby, entertaining a bored toddler or trying to teach him something new, doing dishes, emptying overflowing trash cans, reading stories to the kids, snuggling the kids, taking the kids outside for fresh air and sunshine and using up some energy, and squeezing in some ‘me time’ – usually in the form of a bathroom break or a few minutes on facebook here and there) are more exhausting – and valuable – than the days when I get lots accomplished.
Days that I get lots done are, in all honesty, more for me than anybody. They make ME feel rejuvenated. They make ME feel good about myself. They make ME feel like maybe ‘being the perfect housewife’ could be a goal within my reach. I get to cross things off MY to-do list. On the other hand, days that I can’t manage any more than keeping us all happy and fed and maintaining some semblance of order in the house are for all of us, even if they are discouraging and sometimes even depressing for me and leave me feeling like I’ve been run over by a truck.
Days that I’ve ‘gotten nothing done’ don’t mean I’ve done nothing of value, as I believed until very recently – most likely, they mean just the opposite. I am grieved as I write this, because it is taking me an absurd amount of time to comprehend this lesson. But slowly – very slowly and gently, in spite of my stubborn resistance – I am seeing God working in my heart to dissolve my frustration with those days when (heaven forbid!!!) my children need me more than my to-do list does. I see Him giving me a new perspective: The days that my children need my full attention aren’t the ones getting in the way of my calling. The days that I ignore my kids’ needs because I think an immaculate house is more important are.
I am not called to have a weed-free garden, or to can hundreds of quarts of vegetables each year, or to become a master seamstress or a gourmet chef, or to clean my house every week religiously, though these can be noble goals within my calling as long as I’m not running everyone else over in order to accomplish them. I am called to raise children for Jesus Christ. There was a time when I would have thought that to admit this was to give up on goal-setting and give in to laziness. Now I know: It’s not. It’s simply submission to God’s priorities for my life rather than my own.
Another way to think of it is this: In 30 or 40 years when I have nothing but time on my hands to bake and cook to my heart’s content, to have as big of a garden as I want, and to master other skills that I have no time for now, I can’t see myself regretting that I didn’t get to do these things in my child-raising years. However, I can see myself regretting (very painfully) that I did do all these things – at the expense of my relationship with my children, or maybe even of their relationship with the God I was supposed to be teaching them about. I have enough of painful regrets today of focusing on wrong things as a teenager – and yet, am I still creating regrets for my future by focusing too much on the wrong things?!
I need to stop discontentedly stewing over things of less importance that I could be accomplishing instead while I am comforting and rocking the treasure God has given me for a daughter. I need to quit getting discouraged over a messy house after a day of my precious son satisfying his God-given curiosity by exploring everything in the house and using his God-given energy by playing hard. I guess I’ll struggle with this as long as I’m a Mommy, but hopefully, God will give me the grace to grow into my calling more and more instead of fighting it.
I love my children with as much love as any Mommy’s heart could possibly offer – they melt me with their little hands, soft cheeks, inquisitive eyes, and love of affection. But they aren’t just cute little pets to play with only when it’s convenient for me, they are my full-time job and my calling in life, and I need to learn to cherish every moment I’m given with them!!!
Sarah is a homemaker who loves God and wants to serve him by raising children who love him too. She and her husband, Derrick, have a 2-year-old son and a 7-month-old daughter, plus one daughter now in Heaven who would be 4 this year. She enjoys scrap-booking, gardening, cooking, organizing, yard-saleing, and playing with her kids.