Motherhood sure has its fair share of redundancy. After all, we do the same thing, day after day, hour after hour. Keep the children alive, don’t let them kill each other, keep enough dishes clean to eat on, make things to eat on them, keep the floors clean enough so the toddler doesn’t feast on several-day-old food droppings beneath the table. Day after day after day. Its easy to lose the miracle in the pattern. Its easy to lose confidence in the ever present need to do something all over again.
I’m a go-getter by nature and it frustrates me sometimes that I can’t just cross things off my list permanently. The kids have been changed, loved on, and fed. Check. The floors are swept, the dishes done, and the laundry folded. Check. I’m awesome. Now I can sit back and relax because my work is done. Let me turn on Netflix, grab my favorite snack food, and take the weekend off.
No, our goal shouldn’t be to get everything finished. If that’s your goal each day, you’ll only end up stressed, overwhelmed, and discouraged. It’s exhausting to try to finish something that’s not actually finishable. Instead, we should strive to maintain. We transform. That’s our real job description. We shouldn’t take it for granted. We should take joy in it. See our productivity exactly in doing that thing all over again.
After all, if you didn’t do it, your family and home would suffer. If you were not there to do it all over again your family would go hungry, the dishes would begin growing mold on them, your family would be wearing smelly, soiled clothes and let’s not even begin to discuss what might happen with the diaper situation.
Lay hands to what you’re called to do with a grateful heart. Rearrange the chaos and stand back and admire your work. You did a good thing. Tomorrow (or tonight, or in another hour) you’ll have the chance to do that good thing all over again. It’s not demeaning. It’s transformative. It’s chaos turned to order. Its our job.
We’d be fooling ourselves if we thought this job was worth less because it’s repetitive. After all, the doctor, lawyer, and engineer do a day-by-day repetition of a different sort. The UPS man, the farmer, the waitress all do the same thing day after day. We’re grateful that they do. Society couldn’t function without it.
Life is repetition. Life is a pattern. Life needs us to do the same thing over again and that doesn’t make our job any less special.
The world revolves on its own pattern as well. Winter turns to Spring to Summer and to Fall. The flowers bloom and die all over again. The birds lay eggs and grow their young, the ants build their hills and store up food, the bees make honey and defend their hive, day after day after day. The world spins on its axis, reliably and faithfully, and we are grateful for it.
So take those weepy, ignored children and tickle them and read to them on the couch. Then do it again tomorrow. Take the grimy, sticky tabletops and wipe them down until they’re smooth. Then do it again after the next meal. Take the smelly children and stinky diapers, and scrub the kiddos down in the bath and put on something fresh and clean afterward. Take your overwhelmed husband, rub his shoulders, and whisper words of affection in his ear. Take rebellious children and restore a sense of conscience, respect, and forgiveness. Take what is broken and mend it. Take what is empty and fill it.
Take the tables that look like this (yeah, you thought I was so organized stuff like this never happened):
And counter tops like this…
And turn them into this
Take emotional, grumpy, fussing children who cling to your leg like this…
And give them some love, hugs, and attention so that their hearts are full.
And gradually, day after day, you will get somewhere. There will probably always be dishes to wash or laundry to fold, but as your kids grow up and start leaving home (yes, it will happen), the laundry and dish pile will grow less and less. You won’t step on legos anymore. Your babies will have babies of their own. And your job description will change from parent to grandparent, from the adult responsible for keeping everyone alive and civil to the one who gives advice and helps other young moms in the trenches.
And although it will be a blessing to see how your hard work paid off, who knows… You might just miss the days of sticky counter tops and dirty diapers that you have today. After all, we can never get these days back.