The Dignity in Redundancy

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.

Ha.

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):

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And counter tops like this…

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And turn them into this

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And this…

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Take emotional, grumpy, fussing children who cling to your leg like this…

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And give them some love, hugs, and attention so that their hearts are full.

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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.

38 thoughts on “The Dignity in Redundancy

  1. Er…no. I don’t miss the diaper days! And yes the work will become less because they will start helping IF you train them right. And it does physically become easier. Press on all you with only littles!

  2. You have no idea how much I needed to read this today. Thanks for your realness…it’s a blessing to people you don’t even know 🙂

  3. Ashley says:

    I broke down and cried to my husband today about how repetitive everything is day by day. I felt like I’m getting no where when it comes to my cleaning list. I adore this blog. Seems like every time I need a pick me up you are writing a blog straight to me. Thank you so much. You have no idea how much reading this has helped me today.

    • I'm Kelsey! says:

      Aww… Keep your head up, Ashley! Keep maintaining what’s right in front of you and don’t worry about ‘getting ahead’. Sometimes getting ahead is only for extra credit. 😉

  4. Beth S. says:

    The first to comment!
    Because I loved the honest photos you included, which illustrate the reality of daily life.
    And now on to the kitchen, where lunch-messes-and-cleanups will commence once again. Thanks.

  5. Kaylee Trammell says:

    So encouraging, Kelsey. Thank you. I needed this today.

  6. wietske says:

    Great post!

  7. Vikki says:

    Thanks for posting, I needed this reminder. I feel that way about laundry, it never ends!! Seems like I see the bottom of the hamper briefly before my girls (that love to change outfits all the time) have added to it. Thanks again, I love to read your blog!

  8. Jeanine says:

    Once again perfectly and beautifully written! Happy Mother’s Day to you! =)

  9. Veronica says:

    I try to keep this perspective in mind everyday!! Thanks for reminding me again to take in the precious moments throughout the redundancy and to know that things function properly around my home because I continue to do my job, day after day. With God’s grace, it’s done well as unto the Lord! Thanks Kelsey!

  10. lina says:

    Wonderful Post Thank You !

    Sounds so much like Flylady and her advices.one thing I hated doing again and again was flipping socks and used to nag my kids to flip their socks before putting them in hampers but they never did LOL. One day I read her saying that flipping socks means you have kids so you are blessed .I never asked them to flip socks again 😉

    Oh and she calls cleaning home : Blessing home 🙂

    Love the pictures , before and after always inspires !

    • I'm Kelsey! says:

      Yes! Flylady is always my go-to gal when I get in a home management rut. She breaks it down into such basic steps for me. Thanks, Lina!

  11. Kami says:

    This was so timely for me. Thank you for the encouragement!

  12. Thank you for mentioning your husband in this, too. I am so far just a mother of a child in utero, but even so I feel that I neglect my so-important man at times. It is hard to know how to give to his needs when I am so weak needy myself!

  13. Rita J says:

    This is great! You’re a smart cookie.

  14. Jen says:

    Wow, this one really hit home! With three boys at home, the work never seems to end, and I find myself getting frustrated every day with the repetition of always having dishes to do, or laundry to fold and put away, and toys to pick up…diapers to change (I changed 8 poopy diapers yesterday!!) I have days where I just need a break so bad that I let the dishes pile up, don’t do the laundry, let he boys dump out all the toys, and I just have to play with them and refocus so I can see the joy of why im doing all of those things over and over. glad I read that post today 🙂 thank you! you’ve been such an encouragement to me lately with reading your posts!

  15. Lisa says:

    This actually made me cry. It really hits home. Its very easy to feel overwhelmed by the doing of the same task over and over again. The comparisons of life patterns are very good reminders that everything works this way. And, thank you for the pictures of your dining room table. Glad to know its not just me. Bless you ♥

  16. Ditto to the other ladies…I needed this! This cycle has been really discouraging me recently, feeling like I never truly accomplish anything, because like you said, I can’t just cross it off the list and move on to the next thing. Thank you for sharing this encouragement. I think a change in perspective will work wonders.

  17. Christine says:

    Thank you!

  18. Colleen says:

    Wow…I’ve been doing this for almost 10 years now and it’s felt like Groundhog Day. Thank you for pointing out that the mailman must feel the same way. What an insight you have and I’m RELIEVED to know I get to wake up and do it all over again. Truly…lucky me. 🙂

  19. tiana says:

    I was just thinking I am so tired of my to do list never being done. I try so hard to get everything done and then fail. Yesterday wanted the whole house clean and only got two loads of laundry done, dishes and toys organized. I guess. It helps to realize with out me working on my giant to do list my kids and myself would not be as happy or healthy. Thank you for your post. My boys have blonde hair too by the way. 🙂

  20. Kristi says:

    I just discovered your blog today, and I love it! Sometimes being a stay at home parent feels like one big to-do list, but this post has helped me see beauty in the everyday tasks. I clicked on this article because my table looks like yours at several points of every day LOL! It’s a great reminder that even though daily life can seem repetitive, we will someday look back on these years as some of the best and sweetest times with our children.

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