“Tomorrow is about celebrating our daughter’s birth. It’s not about you having a breakdown the night before because the house isn’t perfect.”
Raychel’s birthday party was super fun. She ran around with ketchup on her face and a soaking wet dress because she was having a blast. She played and talked and led her little friends around. Everyone there was smiling and enjoying time together. The food was yummy and the weather was perfect. I was running around for most of it, but that seems to be what comes with parenting a toddler in every area. :)
Despite the last-minute hosting duties I loved it! I loved seeing our backyard full of decorations and music and good conversation and laughing children. But I almost missed it, like really missed it.
Having two kids is awesome. Double the cute, double the cuddles, double the “aw, did you see that??” But it also means, until little man gets a routine, half the time to get things done, half the sleep, and half the energy. And before you gird yourself for another mom-rant, seriously, the trade off is laughably unfair. It is way worth it.
Yet while I am generally not high strung, I care very much about keeping the house clean and organized. Crumbless counters and vacuum lines on the rug mean peace and calm and smile-sighs. I find deep joy in serving my family this way. My mom and gramma passed on that legacy, and my gramma’s straight-from-a-magazine house is where I look around in my imagination to compare my own little home.
Even though she does not have a toddler living there.
Or a newborn nursing constantly.
Or a husband on graveyard shift.
And she has about 4 times the square footage.
But you know how we do… How we hand in the reason for a little shame. So that when I look around and see the dishes in the sink and the toys on the floor I don’t think about the fun breakfast conversation or the way RJ’s creativity made my heart melt that day. I don’t praise God for these children who teach me about His love every moment. I think about the time it’s going to take to wash the dishes, time I would rather spend resting because the time I used to spend resting is now spent nursing or soothing or reading Skippyjon Jones. I think about my sore feet or my aching back. I think about how much I want to impress the people coming over and how much I want to live in a model home. Basically I think about me. And while I’m thinking about me I’m watching my little mountain grow and grow until I am too overwhelmed to look up anymore.
Then I snap. I stand in the kitchen and cry over my perfectly lived-in house not being perfectly Martha Stewart.
This time Gabe delivered that stinging truth. And giving in, but totally unsatisfied, I slept in my “disaster” of a house (yes, I actually called it that and no, it was not that bad). In the morning we went to worship God and between the music and the spirit-filled message I was somewhat floored with this painful reality: that I cared more about things being “just so” than I did about God.
I cared more about impressing my friends than honoring Him with how I take care of His gifts.
I cared more about making myself comfortable in a clean house than resting in His care.
I cared more about the appearance of having it altogether than actually having it altogether. Which for me only comes from dependance on God.
I read an article about how the way we talk about our body image will deeply affect our kids. So that if we are negative (“I look so fat in this,” “Ew, look at those dark circles under my eyes!” “I hate my [insert detestable body part].”) we pass on this negative body image. The same thing applies here… RJ sees this home – whether it’s fresh from Spring Cleaning or bogged down with a busy week’s clutter – as beautiful. This is where she feels safest and most free. This is where her family lives. She appreciates it as God intends her to appreciate it. It’s her home, nothing more and certainly nothing less. Shame on me if I ever cause her to lose that appreciation.
So my calling is not only to honor this gift by taking care of it, but also by not obsessing over it. I should be grateful and humbled by the gifts God gives, not entitled and stressed out. And if my home is less organized because I have two amazing small children what the heck am I upset about?! And if regardless of my location, my family, my income, my issues I am deeply and unwaveringly loved by this God what can I ever rightly complain over?!
Ugh. What a fool. God gives me EVERYTHING and I choose to focus on the hollow. There is no bootstrap pulling here, this is all my sweet Savior whispering to my spirit once again.
So by the time the party came the kitchen was full of little messes and there were weeds we couldn’t get to in the yard. RJ was not groomed and her dress was not pressed, but that girl had a ball. And we had a ball. And I showed new friends around the house God’s provided with a little less empty contempt and a little more gratitude to a Father who gives good things.