“She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks,” (Proverbs 31:17).
“Mommy, will you play this with me?” My two-year-old peered over a mountain of heaping laundry baskets. She clutched an UNO Moo barn in her hand.
Ugh. I looked at my daughter, then at the laundry, then back to my daughter again. Scolding phrases whipped through my head—words I’ve read countless times in e-mail forwards and catchy Facebook posts. You’ve heard them. Those modern admonishments meant to encourage frazzled moms.
Days are long but the years fly by.
Rock and don’t sweep, because babies don’t keep.
A messy house is a happy house.
So true! I believe that!
But then I stared down a pile of grubby socks and realized—enough, already. Seriously. This family is one day short of recycling our dirty underwear. Sometimes the laundry just has to get done.
I swallowed hard and gazed straight into my daughter’s pleading eyes. “I’m sorry, sweetheart, but I cannot play right now. Mom has to do some chores.”
Suddenly a strange sense of empowerment tingled through my veins. It felt a little like rebellion. Yes! I must do the chores! And that does NOT make me a bad mom!
Quite the opposite, I think.
My house is nowhere near immaculate. I stopped trying years ago, when I discovered babies are messy and moms need naps. But I wonder—have we gone a little too far? Do we encourage each other so much to spend every waking moment relishing fleeting childhood, that any time spent otherwise is deemed a waste, or selfish? We don’t guilt each other about our dirty floors anymore, and that’s great. But now, instead, are we sheepish about cleaning them?
I’m taking a stand for mothers everywhere.
It’s okay to clean.
Or to cook. Or to spend a morning running errands, paying bills, making phone calls and folding towels. That’s what grown-ups do. And how else will our kids learn unless we demonstrate?
After all, life is not a big game of UNO.
Recently, I read an article about a local Amish family. It was a diary of their typical week, written by the father of six grown children. Each day consisted of chores, cooking, and family devotions. The grandkids ran in the barn while the older children milked cows, and everyone helped make pies for the family bakery business. They were all faithfully devoted to one another as they worked side by side from dawn to dusk.
Could it be that the real call on a family is not for the parents to serve the children, but for everyone to serve each other for the glory of God? It’s up to us parents to teach the kids how—by example.
Jesus did it first. He invited his disciples to follow him and learn from him while he worked. While he taught, healed, and prayed. As moms, our core duties are much the same. Teach. Nurture. Pray like crazy.
So sometimes we work. Sometimes we play. Strong families are built with both. Let’s stop the flow of guilt from either end, amen?
“Sweetie, I have a great idea.” I set my daughter’s game on the table and clapped her hands in mine. “You can help me put these clothes in the wash. Doesn’t that sound fun?”
“Okay, Momma!” Her face lit up. “Can I push the buttons, too?”
“Absolutely. You are a good button pusher.”
“Yay!” She squealed with delight as if I’d just asked her to play, well, UNO Moo or something.
Amazing. It took an Amish diary to show me what a toddler knows at heart. Work is play.
Looks like I’m going to be getting a lot more laundry done around here. We might need bigger underwear drawers.
If this post encouraged you, please pass it on. You might also like Queen of the Castle: A Fresh Perspective on Housework, How a Wiggles Movie Changed My Life, and If You Give a Mom a Minute.
Linking up with: The Better Mom, Playdates With God, The Mom Initiative, Titus 2sdays, Grace at Home, and Things I Can’t Say.
AMEN!!! With a mountain of laundry calling my name today, I needed this. Love your perspective. One of my favorite memories from my own childhood is “working” with my mom. She hung out all of our laundry on a clothesline and one day she strung up a little string beside our big clothesline and let me wash my doll clothes and hang them out to dry “just like mommy does.” Blessings on your week!
I just love knowing there is a fellow momma buried under the laundry today, Alicia. What a sweet memory of your own little doll clothesline! Love it.
Becky, well done! Yu child will remember later thats she helps mom.. I enjoyed this post because it is a situation that recognizable is for me and other mothers. Thank you.
I wonder at what age laundry is no longer fun. My older daughter asks to help with chores all the time, too. Do you think it will last until they’re teenagers? 🙂
It’s always finding that balance that’s so tough in this life, Becky. And you’ve addressed that need here so beautifully as always. I love the line, “… The real call on a family is not for the parents to serve the children, but for everyone to serve each other for the glory of God.” Maybe it will fit in a Twitter post–I’ll have to see! Thanks again, my friend, for your unfettered heart toward motherhood and God!
Thank you for reading each week, Beth! I always smile to see your comments here.
Ashley Ditto says
Becky, you always give out such encouragement for momma’s. Bless you today.
Monica Nixon says
Balance… It seems I have a challenging time balancing my own little life. I can only imagine what it may be like if I ever have children. “… The real call on a family is not for the parents to serve the children, but for everyone to serve each other for the glory of God.” I agree with Beth. I love this line, as well. I believe this is something we’ve mixed up a bit. The fact that you’ve caught this revelation will certainly bless your family.
I can only hope, my friend. I am such a work in progress. 🙂
🙂 Loved this…as with everything you write – just love it!
Thanks for reading, Lori! I really mean that.
Rose @ Walnut Acre says
Your title caught my eye because I have a huge pile of laundry that is cycling through today. Thank you for these wise and encouraging words. 🙂
So do I! I should be folding it right now, too… 🙂
Kayla Garcia says
Such a great thought. Thank you for sharing! :)I’m expecting my first in May and this will be good to keep in mind. (I’m visiting your blog for the first time from Titus Tuesdays)
Welcome, Kayla! Thank you for reading! And many blessings for your upcoming mommyhood journey. We’re in it together.
Yes. Yes. Yes. Life is dishes and dirty socks and washing the car together and cleaning up. If our kids don’t learn this part early, they become selfish, self-centered, and lazy. When we teach them to care for themselves and their home, they are empowered. My college daughter came home this year and said, “Thank you, Mom, for teaching me to take care of myself.” Her roommate had never done anything, and didn’t even know how to clean a bathroom. Let it be said, however, that when we finished chores (together, which made them go by quicker), we had time for fun as well 🙂
That really encourages me, Lori. I hope my daughters appreciate housework AND playtime memories by the time they head off to college.
Amen Sister! I know that in my case a clean home is a happy home and clean laundry makes it even better! You are teaching your children well when they see that even though play time is great, there must also be work time.
Blessings to you and your laundry!
A clean home is a happy home… yes, I feel the same way. Which is why I have to fight my nature in order to also see, from my kids’ perspective, that memories are built in the messes. It’s all a balancing act, right? Blessings, fellow laundress!
Twingle Mommy says
I thank you for this post. I have a cleaning day and two laundry days. On my cleaning day I set the timer for 90 minutes and turn on a movie and I clean what I can. I get crap about this from some of my friends since it doesn’t matter if my house is clean or not my kids need me. They do? Because Smurfs and Dora are keeping them pretty entertained right now. Well my floor needs to be cleaned occasionally and laundry doesn’t get cleaned by wishful thinking.
I love the line “you’re a good button pusher!” That’s awesome one so many levels.
Over from PYHO.
Well now that is a good system, I have to say. I might try it. 90 minutes to clean whatever you can get done in that time, then you quit, with no guilt over what didn’t get done? I like it! Thanks for stopping by from PYHO!
You’re so right! There has to be a balance between making sure we treasure the moments with our kids and still getting things done that need to be done!
And we know that pile of stuff that needs to be done does not get any smaller by staring at it, does it, Shell? 🙂
Love this especially this –> “But I wonder—have we gone a little too far? Do we encourage each other so much to spend every waking moment relishing fleeting childhood, that any time spent otherwise is deemed a waste, or selfish? We don’t guilt each other about our dirty floors anymore, and that’s great. But now, instead, are we sheepish about cleaning them?” So so true! I often feel this way – that if I’m spending 24/7 with my family that I’m being selfish. It’s a balance like others have said between treasuring our family and kids, treasuring ourselves and cleaning the house!
I like to think that taking care of my house is part of treasuring my family. Although if that’s true, then by the looks of my house some days you’d think I don’t treasure anybody too much around here! Balance is the elusive key to it all, you’re right, Christine!
Laura Boggess says
Yes, sometimes it’s a good life lesson when we say “no”, isn’t it? I love your idea to get her involved in your chore. Brilliant! Unfortunately, that doesn’t work anymore with my two teenage boys 🙂
Darn, teenagers don’t get a kick out of pouring the detergent anymore? I’ll appreciate these days while they last!
Richella Parham says
Love this! Sometimes cleaning and scrubbing CAN’T wait ’til tomorrow. Sometimes it can. I think a good idea is for all of us to encourage one another to do our best, knowing that sometimes our best will disappoint our kids, our spouses, our friends, or even ourselves. But God’s not disappointed in us. 🙂
Now, if you find yourself in need of more laundry to do, please let me know. I know where you could get a large supply!!
Ha ha, Richella – you’d have to let my little one sort your socks, you know. 🙂
jeanne @ Inspiring Ideas says
A daily balancing act – Looks like you’re still up on the rope! 🙂
You know you are one of my model balancing queens, Jeanne. 🙂
living from glory to glory says
Hello, I was really happy to see your post! I have raised my children and have 7 grand children. But I can tell you that my hubby abd grown son that our in positions to hire people and to work along side this generation. And so many have NO or very little worth ethics.
God help us as women to TRAIN our little ones.
Bravo, and may Your children rise up and call you blessed.
God help us, indeed, Roxy! Thank you for your encouraging perspective!
Noelle Kirchner says
This is a great post, Becky! I just recently learned of your blog from Laura Sassi’s blog, in which she nominated you for a sunshine award. I am just starting a blog of my own, which is devotional in nature like yours. Hope to carry on the conversation! In Christ, Noelle http://vocationalmothering.blogspot.com/
Welcome, Noelle! Thanks for following the trail from Laura’s blog. I’m hopping over to your blog right now…