I was reading this post on Fallible Blogma (great blog, by the way) about embracing what it is to serve your family. This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately - how easy it is to get all wrapped up in "woe is me, I do so much for everyone else," thinking. But aren't we called to serve others? And how better to do so than by starting with one's family?
Women, and mothers in particular, are given a mixed message. We're expected to maintain a certain level of order, education, nutrition and happiness in our children and household. That takes work - a lot of work, sometimes. Yet, we're also told that we can't sacrifice too much of ourselves in our lives as mothers. We need to make sure to take our "me time." A friend of mine is fond of saying, "The only way I can be a good mother is to be a selfish mother."
I don't deny at all that we need to take care of ourselves. I certainly make an effort to do so, and I do think I'm a better mother for it. But I also think that sometimes, this "me time" advice goes too far. In our self-obsessed culture, we're taught that the individual is the only thing that matters; that we need to make ourselves feel good above all else. So what is a woman, faced with the seeming drudgery of day to day living at home, supposed to do?
All too often, we wind up living for the future. We can't wait until bedtime. We long for the weekend when Daddy will be home to offer us much needed relief. We plan day camps and playdates and trips to Grandma's house in order to free us up to get on with the business of, well... what it is we're supposed to be getting on with, I'm not quite sure. Mani-pedis? Hair appointments? Shopping trips? Sipping iced tea over the latest issue of Cosmo?
I often find myself frustrated with day to day living, as a stay home mom. The laundry is always piling up, my kids seem to be endlessly hungry, there are toys strewn about and the little tasks of life add up and threaten to overwhelm. I get caught up in what I need for ME. Woe is me, I have no time to myself. If only there were more hours in the day, I could get things done and then just relax. I'm so busy, busy, busy, what about me, me, me!
I'm not going to find the answer in changing my schedule or trying to get my kids to do some of the chores (and they're still little enough that their "helping" is often more work for me anyway). I need to realize that it isn't all about me, me, me. I'm not called to serve others simply by virtue of being a mother - I am called to serve others because I am a human being. And a follower of Christ. Does this mean I'm going to quit brushing my hair, forego the gym, and live in old sweats in favor of putting my kids' needs ahead of my own at all times? Of course not.
What it does mean is that I need to approach the day to day tasks of life with peace, and even with joy. I don't love doing laundry or cleaning bathrooms, but it needs to be done. I don't have time to keep a perfectly neat house or do all the crafts and activities I'd like to accomplish with my kids. But if I approach even the small things of daily life with thankfulness and joy, my day is a whole lot brighter. Instead of lamenting over my lack of free time, as I have a tendency to do, I need to look with gratitude at my home and family. It is an honor to serve them, to nurture them, to provide for them. It is my vocation, and I need to turn towards it with joy.