When I was little and the days grew short and cool, I had to come in when it got dark. I hated coming in early. Still gritty with dirt and sticky from pine sap in the woods, I would plop on the stairs and wriggle my tennis shoes off and dump out the pebbles and…breathe. I still remember that first smell of dinner. The house was half dark -- the sun had gone down sooner than we were used to and darkness swallowed us before we knew it. Onions and garlic were crackling in a frying pan and their aroma was swelling on the warm air through the hallways. Tonight would be chili. Or meatloaf. Or pasta. Or anything for that matter. It didn’t matter. It was always there, a hot meal. I loved it and I never thought twice about it.
But now my feet aren’t dumping pebbles on the rug at the front door. Now, they are planted at the stove. Now, I am the mom in the story. These little ones’ “home” is literally what I make it. Now that I am the homemaker, I do think twice. And three times. And ten times. That meal was planned, wasn’t it sister? Shopped for, and assembled, then cooked. The burden of that is always buzzing in my mind -- what do they need today? Tomorrow? Next week? Next year? Home. It’s where our needs are met, unless we’re the homemaker, then it's where we meet others’ needs. It’s where we pour ourselves out in quiet hidden ways, ways my children don’t even know. Ways they may never know. Who is fit for such a burden?
Life has much more struggle in it. I empty the dishwasher and struggle. I hang up my button up shirts and I struggle. I tried that “TikTok duvet cover” hack and I struggled. I change diapers, mop floors, hold toddlers, kiss boo-boos, wipe noses and plait hair, and I struggle. I sit with one school-aged child, then the other, every morning to teach lessons and assign work and I struggle. I take time away from it all to write, and I struggle. I struggle against my flesh, the part that wants to stay in bed. I struggle against the other part that wants to be out of my home. Outside running. Or out working. Or out doing anything else than fighting with this silly broken drawer again. Sometimes, it’s hard to be home, isn’t it sister?
And this year? How much more so as we’re home more and more. I got a text today saying our homeschool group was canceled for this week because of several positive cases. And I groan. We were already in isolation because of possible exposure. We’re home so much these days aren’t we? But am I really home?
Can I just offer you some encouragement? Some strength for your heart and heart for your step? A lot seems to depend on us. Or does it?
A little hand tugged at mine. “Come see, Momma. Come see,” she says eagerly. I let her lead me into her room and she looks out the window. It’s a sunset. She sees it from her room. She noticed it, but I didn’t. Orange and auburn drench her room in brilliance. She has a sunset for a moment, and I have her for a moment. I have her big fussy tears when she doesn't get her way. I have her snuggles and her complaints. I have her quick little mind that understands so much and remembers every word I say. I have her eye rolls and comments, “Mom, I already know what a pronoun is. Why are we learning this again?” I watch them all grow up and struggle to realize they aren’t exactly like the kids at school… and pray they will come to appreciate that. God made each of them and I rejoice that no two are alike. But I also have that sticky blob out of reach under the table that mocks me every night because it stubbornly refuses to be swept or mopped. It, and a thousand other annoyances. At some point I’ll get down there and chip away at it, but not tonight.
Tonight the blob will stay where it is and be at home in our home, because tonight it reminds me that I have people to love and minds to fill and glory to be sown. And because of that, I won’t meet all expectations (or even my own). We might be behind in math and violin and we might be late to our own couch for Zoom meeting. One of my kids’ masks might be too big (and maybe I got an email about it from the homeschool group.) My waist might be too thick and my patience too thin and my hair too generous with frizz. I might not have a few other things either, like a career or “work heels” or extra cash. I might even have forgotten to make dinner tonight so I have an empty pizza box in the garbage.
Sister, tonight I have full hands, a full heart, and no energy left. Tonight I have my eyes on eternity when the generous sowing of good things will reap a harvest of glory (Gal 6:9). Here and now, I’m full of frustration and gratitude all at once. Moved by the Spirit to pause this time when that child is ignoring me again. To pause, to breathe, to go find her and correct her without yelling or piling my sin on top of hers. I look forward to the day when my girls, I pray, will be my sisters for eternity. When all the work heels and extra cash and expectations are burnt up and I never miss them ever again.
When the only expectation I need to meet will be met and He says, “Well done.” Not “perfectly done,” or “flawlessly done,” or “quickly done,” just a hard, slow, lovely “well done.” Because life isn’t perfect or flawless and neither am I.
How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns” (Isaiah 52:7).
How beautiful on the mountains of laundry are the feet of the mothers that declare good news of grace for their naughty children. How beautiful to still the arguments and publish peace between siblings. How beautiful to teach them this so they can grow into strong people who do the same in their own families, in their own churches, and in their own workplaces. Who bring little hearts the good news of the gospel in a hundred little, living ways. Who publish salvation on the walls and hearts of the home and say late at night “It’s ok, your God reigns.” Because really, everything depends on Him. How beautiful to have feet planted here, at home.