A few of my newer readers who have checked out some of my older stuff have found those posts and have asked whatever happened to part three, so I’ve decided to rewrite the posts and publish them again.
Can any of us truly say that we are consistently doing the best that we can every single day? I have my doubts. I’ve learned recently that constantly trying to be enough (a good enough wife/mama/homemaker) is not only exhausting, it’s fruitless. There are just so many ways that I fail every single day.
Today we were barely through breakfast and I’d already clenched my fingers together and raised my voice because my toddler babe takes about a billion years to push through each and every tooth and OH.MY.GASH – the insanity. The ceaseless crying and whining murders me. It’s like a ghastly crime scene and the victim lying unceremoniously in a puddle of death is MY MIND.
There was some serious wailing and gnashing of teeth right there on the kitchen floor, and it wasn’t even 9am yet. Daddy was not due to come home for another 7-8 hours, by which point there surely would have been total and utter annihilation of all sanity.
Is this really my life? Trying not to yell at a teething toddler and a three-year-old acting like SUCH a child (sarcasm alert). What part of my childhood sunshiney plans for motherhood included this scenario? Who clued me in to the fact that my job would be a daily repetition of the most mundane and mind-numbing tasks one could imagine? Who warned me that the gritty day-to-day of motherhood would be a constant dying to self and trying to understand and shepherd the irrational minds of several precious creation-gifts from heaven who cannot even wipe their own butts?
This is the point at which I ask God if he’s sure I should remain in this whole mothering gig. Perhaps something went awry in the factory packaging, and I didn’t get a big enough portion of patience or sympathy or keep-it-togetherness.
These words from Kathleen Norris struck me deeply a year ago, and they remain as profound today:
“The fact that none of us can rise so far in status as to remove ourselves from the daily, bodily nature of life on this earth is not usually considered a cause for celebration, but rather the opposite. The daily routines that provide a modicum of discipline in our lives are perceived as a drag, a monotony that can occasion listlessness, apathy, and despair” (K. Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and “Women’s Work”).
What if I stopped perceiving my daily mundane as a monotonous drag?
The laundry that never ends, the dirty dishes stacked, the toys scattered and the cluttered closets. The whining toddler, the disobeying preschooler, the constant touching and climbing all over me and never-a-moment’s-peace and why-can’t-I-go-pee-without-an-audience? The errands and grocery shopping and cooking and cleaning and scrubbing and oh yes, breathing and sleeping and sitting once in a while? The dirty boots and mud tracked in the house and crayon on the walls and orphaned lego pieces that I find underfoot.
Can I find peace and contentment in these mundane realities? Or do I have to find it in spite of them? Layered in between the popcorn crumbs and the dismantled couch cushions and the tantrums and the discouragement, there is joy. It’s not a rosy-all-is-well feeling and it’s not a satisfaction that finally I did everything right all day long. Waiting for that kind of a feeling will leave me waiting forever and ever. Instead, I have this crazy idea that if I lean a little deeper into the quotidian realities and the gritty spectrum of humanity that I find there that I will at last find peace. To believe wholeheartedly that this exact mundane moment is full of beauty and heart-pulsing life.
In same work quoted above, Kathleen Norris writes this little bit of wisdom:
“But, like liturgy, the work of cleaning draws much of its meaning and value from repetition, from the fact that it is never completed, but only set aside until the next day. Both liturgy and what is euphemistically termed “domestic work” also have an intense relation with the present moment, a kind of faith in the present that fosters hope and makes life seem possible in the day-to-day.”
My desire, in my role at home (as home-maker – literally: making the home) is to be wholehearted (wholehearted: “undivided commitment or unreserved enthusiasm). I seek joy right smack dab in the middle of the daily grind, not in spite of it. Not during naptime. Not after the kids are finally in bed (though those times are certainly refreshing in their own way). I breathe deep in the reality that lives within our little prairie house and I see it. I really truly see it. And I whisper my thanks.
Every day I create as many messes with my stubborn ungrateful heart as I clean up from my precious and mischievous children. And yet, I am loved. I am growing. I am learning. If I were not a hot mess of humanity all broken and dry and weak, I would not know grace nor would I need a Saviour.
This is my mundane life full of beauty.