I know the feeling. An endless list of random things that must be cleaned, put away, made. Dishes that are always dirty, bills that always have to be paid, laundry that always needs folding, floors that never seem to stay clean, and little sticky faces, framed with ever dirty, messy hair. The end of the day rolls around. You have worked all day long, ever since you rose from your bed this morning. Now, crawling back into bed, you quickly glance around at the current state of your home. You paw through the mental check-list of things still waiting for you to tend to. You wonder where the fruit of all your labor is.
If you are like me, you become disappointed with yourself.
I should have done better.
I should be more on top of things.
I should have everything figured out.
I should at least be able to keep my kid clean!
I need to do better.
You pull your covers up, thinking of all the things you could change to “be better”.
Tomorrow rolls around. You wake up, determined that today is the day where everything will be all order and cleanliness. Check-lists and To-do-lists galore. The day is planned down to every quarter of the hour. Today is the day you will be productive. Today is the day you finally get that corner pile of clothes folded and put away. The day you finally make those granola bars you’ve been just dying to try… they are healthy and only have six natural ingredients, who doesn’t need that in their life?
Your day may start out well. BAM! That’s another thing you can cross off your to-do list, and it feels oh so good! You are on a productive wave and no unorganized corner in your home can stand before you. It will all be cleaned, scrubbed, straightened, swept, folded, and so on.
There it is.
A cry. A spill. A tumble. A bumped head. A lost toy.
Whatever it may be, your child needs you again.
And again, and again, and again.
You feel your grand plans for the day slipping from your hand, falling to the floor and shattering into millions of pieces all around you.
Frustration. Oh, the frustration!
Can your kid not be fine for even ten minutes so you can get some work done?!
I am so guilty of this. All too often I find myself overwhelmed with the things I am trying to do, that I start pushing my daughter to the back burner. Setting her up somewhere on the floor with some toys, desperately hoping she’ll be quiet just long enough for me to finish cleaning the toilet. Or placing her strategically in the living room to where she can’t see me, but I can still keep an eye on her. (Because we all know as soon as the kiddo sees mom there is no escaping.)
I hate it. I hate that I have developed a mindset where I am so caught up in the things of the day that I actually ignore my little girl.
This is wrong.
I know that. You know that.
We don’t feel good about ourselves at the end of a long day filled with cramming tasks and being irritated with our kids.
But what can we do to change it?
We simply can not forgo the tasks calling for our attention.
Maybe though, maybe some things are not as important as we think them to be.
Especially when we compare it to the importance of raising our children.
Each child was placed in our care. We are charged to raise, teach, love, and nourish them. Still, we obsess over the floors staying crumb-free and are oblivious to the fact that our children’s hearts, minds, and souls, the very things that need us most and so desperately require our attention, are going without nurturing.
Ever heard the saying, “Don’t stop to straighten a picture when your house is burning down.”?
Don’t stop to dust the corners when your child’s heart needs tending.
My husband and I were having bible study together and this verse just jumped off the page at me.
Proverbs 14:4 Where no oxen are, the trough is clean;
But much increase comes by the strength of an ox.
Or, how I interpreted it;
Where no children are, the house is clean;
But much increase comes by the life of a child.
Man, that really hit me.
I could spend all of my time making sure my daughter has the perfect home to grow up in. A home where everything is perfect and everything is neat.
But where is the good in that?
When she is grown, all she will remember is a distant mother with a strict set of rules.
No food in the living room.
No shoes on the carpet.
No playing in the dirt.
No toys out of the playroom.
No clothes on the floor.
She won’t remember snuggles in the pile of laundry (because it will get wrinkled), or baking sugar cookies together (because it’s too messy). She won’t remember holding hands and splashing in rain puddles (because it’ll ruin her clothes), dancing through the house (because she’ll knock something over) or reading and learning together (because we have no time).
She will know how to keep a spotless and orderly house.
But she will not know the things of greatest importance. She will not know how to cultivate the relationships around her. She will not know what it is like to grow in a loving home.
This thought brings tears to my eyes.
Maybe it’s ok if I let the laundry sit in the basket another day so I have more time to cuddle my teething infant.
Maybe it’s ok if the carpet has dirt on it, I’ll vacuum it later and take my little girl outside to play.
Maybe it’s ok if I play with her in the grass, we’ll make time for a bath later.
What if we could change our perspective a little, focusing less on the material things of the world, and more on the ever more significant, intangible things?
Mamas, in the grand scheme of things, our children don’t need much.
They need our love.
They need our time.
They need to be nurtured.
They need to be encouraged.
I’ve slowly, very slowly been letting go of the need to “have things just so”. I promise, keeping your house in perfect order is really not a thing of critical importance.
Let us worry less, and instead, love more, snuggle more, play more, explain more, and teach more.
When your day comes to a close, it matters how much you loved your little ones, and little else.
Let’s turn our attention to the ones who need it most.