As I sit with my computer on my lap I can see at least six different unfinished projects, all calling my name. The card table is covered in piles of fabric and bib pieces that are cut and waiting to be sewn. My sewing machine is perched on the end of the kitchen table, along with my sewing box and at least five different colored thread and bobbins. Behind that the ironing board is piled with appliqued onesies that I just finished sewing, that need to be ironed and folded. Out of sight but certainly not out of mind is the collection of scrapbook paper, tulle, and tissue paper that is sitting on the floor of our bedroom, waiting for me to make it into fabulous and adorable decorations for Charlotte’s first birthday party. The clean dishes in the dishwasher have yet to be unloaded, breakfast dishes fill the sink, the dryer just stopped and is sitting there, waiting for me to attend to it. And of course the floor is covered with the ever-present sea of toys and books, evidence of Baby Girl’s morning playtime.
So people wonder what a “stay-at-home” mom does all day. Do I ever get bored? Um, no. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel the pressure to be “productive” more now than I ever have, since I’m responsible for setting my own schedule and coming up with my own set of tasks that should be completed by the day’s end. Although my prince has arrived, I’m afraid the cooking and cleaning is still (mostly) up to me. There’s no leaving it at the office, and as the old cliche goes, “a mother’s work is never done.” Being the task-oriented, perfectionistic beaver that I am I tend to bite off more than I can possibly chew (no pun intended). In addition to my daily chores, I like to have a few sewing, crafting, and organizing projects on the docket. Cinderella indeed, though I’m afraid I don’t need a wicked step-mother and step-sisters to drop piles of laundry on my head, I am quite capable of that myself.
I’m sure that moms who work outside the home will be relieved to know that I suffer from plenty of mommy guilt too. As I sit at my sewing machine, stitching some bibs together that may or may not fetch me a bit of spending money at the MOPS vender fair next week, I wonder if I should instead be singing some educational songs to Charlotte, who is busy playing with her socks (is my baby the only one who is obsessed with socks? I swear she could play with them for hours). When I’m sitting on the floor, surrounded by piles of books, reading Baby Lit’s Pride and Prejudice while Charlotte pulls even more books off the shelf, part of me is listening to the scornful silence coming from the laundry room and wondering if we have any clean dishes for lunch.
I suppose this constant tension will always be in my life, balancing the demands of taking care of the household with the responsibility of raising my daughter and whoever else comes along. The Proverbs 31 wife is grand role model and all, but I have a feeling she did not accomplish everything on that laundry list of duties every day, or even every month. How did she know what to make her priority of the day? Should I heed the advice of the empty-nester mom who stopped me in the grocery store and admonished me to spend as much time as I could with my baby now, ignoring the dirty laundry, dirty floor, piles of fabric and sea of toys? Or would that foster an unhealthy “child-centered” parenting pattern, not to mention risk exponential bacterial and germ growth throughout the house? I’m all for simplifying my life, but how, when it seems to get complicated all by itself?
These are the questions I ponder with my fingertips as I fight the guilt of ignoring all the tasks that are calling my name so that I can instead share these thoughts with you during these few precious moments of nap time. And what do I do once she drops this morning nap? Oh my, such a question is quite beyond me. The Bible admonishes me to take each day as it comes, never worrying about whether we will have clothes to wear or food to eat but seeking instead the kingdom of God first. But what does that mean? That I should add hours of prayer and Bible reading to my already bursting schedule? That I should spend my time meditating on Scripture and trust the meals to prepare themselves, like the words to that old Rich Mullins song…”So we can dress like flowers and eat like birds”? I don’t think that’s what Jesus meant. I’m slowly learning that seeking the kingdom of heaven first is about the posture of my heart. It’s about being humble and thankful, acknowledging that I have no power or control, that the tasks I need to accomplish should be for God’s glory. To complete my chores joyfully and gratefully, rather than sullenly and resentfully, and be willing to set aside my tasks when something more important comes along (like teaching Charlotte not to chew on her shoes or take the dog toys out of Elphie’s mouth).
I’m still working out what that looks like. I know it means being willing to give up my own agenda, listening for the whisper of the Holy Spirit when He has a different plan. It’s oh so hard, in the midst of a never ending list of projects, but absolutely vital to keep me from becoming a shriveled, dishpan-handed scullery maid with the sour expression to match. Finding joy in the mundane…that is the gift and challenge that every child of God has been given. Because the kingdom of God is at hand, made up of the dirt, the clutter, the chaos, if I am willing to open my heart and receive it with thanksgiving. Justification happens in a moment, but sanctification takes a lifetime. Praise God for his patience with me!
So what should I do after I post this? Laundry? Sew a bib? Empty the dishwasher? Never mind, Baby Girl’s awake…
How do you balance and complete your daily to-do list without it becoming a drudgery?