When talking with other moms who share this busy season of parenthood, I have often found myself referring to the tasks of homemaking as, “all the other stuff.” Kids in school, after school activities, homework (theirs, not mine), working part time, church ministry, family commitments: that’s a lot of stuff. With so many things pulling in so many directions, homemaking has been reduced to drudgery, and been unaffectionately labeled, “housework.” Ugh. The very word makes me shudder. It gets stuck in my mouth and makes my tongue feel thick, like I’m having an allergic reaction. And believe me, I know about those. Doing dishes, sorting, washing and folding laundry, cooking meals and cleaning house is no longer part of my illustrious job description as a wife and mother, it’s just, “the other stuff.”
After I dropped the kids off at school the other day, I was standing at my kitchen sink washing up the breakfast dishes. The house was quiet, and for a moment, my chaotic life stood still. I had time to think. I had time to reflect. I had time to breathe. Amazing! In that moment, with the rhythmic washing and rinsing of the dishes, it occurred to me that this housework stuff is not “the other stuff.” This IS the stuff: at home, cleaning up after a meal, washing the clothes my five favorite people in the world continually dirty, stain, and sometimes throw in the hamper because that’s just easier than putting clothes away, or cleaning this cozy, adorable house we are blessed to call home. What other stuff could possibly compare to this stuff?
This is my calling. This is my role. Not making breakfast really, because my kids are old enough to get breakfast for themselves, but nurturing them. Even as I teach them independence and self-reliance, there will always be things I do for them, sometimes because we are in a hurry, sometimes because they are unable to do for themselves, and sometimes simply because I delight in caring for my family. It is at those times that I fully embrace this task of motherhood, of wifery, of homemaker. When do I resent these mundane tasks of living? When I define them as the other stuff.
What does this title homemaker mean? It means that I set the tone of my home. My stress level is the family stress level. My attitude is the family attitude. My life is their life. And I accept that. I embrace that. I love that. Why? Because when I do it means that I have fully embraced my calling as a wife and mother. This is the stuff, because this is my calling.
I am other things too. I have other relationships to nurture, other responsibilities to meet, other callings to fulfill. But if those callings pull me away from my first calling, if the other stuff becomes the stuff, then I have lost my focus. Then I have put my family in second place. Then I have said, “You are important to me, but you are the other stuff. This project I am working on, this ministry I am coordinating, this job I am pursuing, this is the stuff. Please do not interrupt me, this is important stuff.” What am I telling my husband? What am I telling my kids? What am I telling my God? Perhaps unintentional, but I am telling them that I have rejected my first role as a helpmeet to my husband, a mother to my children, a disciple to my God. How often do I find myself living as though I have no time for God because I am too busy doing His stuff?
Being still is a problem for me. It always has been. I am a wiggler. I am a thinker. I am a doer. As soon as my schedule is relieved of one responsibility, I quickly fill it with another. But God is teaching me to slow down. He is teaching me to pray first, then do, if He tells me to. He is teaching me to “Be still, and know that I am God.” When the outside demands of life are silenced, I can focus on what really matters: the really important stuff.
1. Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God.”