Tuesday, March 15, 2011

the work of the home

As a homemaker I do the same things over and over again. Preparing food, cleaning, laundry, sweeping the floors . . . it’s a never ending cycle. Sometimes I fool myself into thinking if I just go a little faster I can actually get ahead, and maybe something will actually stay done or stay clean long enough for me to break the cycle and do something more “fulfilling.” But just when I feel like I’ve gotten ahead of the game, something else happens to throw me a few paces behind.

Maybe instead of trying to break out of the cycle, I should embrace the cycle. Embrace those ubiquitous dirty socks and bits of cheerios and banana mushed into the floor? Embrace the work that is undone practically the moment I finish? Embrace the kitchen that I just cleaned 2 hours ago only to be covered in the remains of a dinner eaten in 5 minutes?


Why? Well, a couple of reasons I’ve been thinking about.

First, it’s inescapable. It’s just life. You want to live? You need to eat, preferably homecooked, healthy food. You need to find a pair of clean socks that matches. You need to be able to walk across the floor without crunching stuff under your feet, at least for your own sanity’s sake. You need to be able to sit down on your couch and not be overtaken by the mountain of (clean) laundry still sitting there since last week. (And by you I mean me.) Why fight against the inevitable? Much better to try and find some happiness and purpose in it than mop (yes, mop) about in a constant state of drudgery.

Second, the work of homemaking or housekeeping is not an end in and of itself. Of course it’s satisfying to keep my home a fairly clean and pleasant and nurturing sort of place. I do find enjoyment in bringing in bits of beauty and creating cozy spaces, putting out pretty things and making it ours. But all the little tasks, the never ending chores, the organizing, the wash-rinse-repeat, all of it has a higher goal.

As my favourite new blogger said,

“They are some of the practical things that go into mothering and making a home, but they are all for a purpose -- even making a home is for a purpose:

So that we have an environment in which to find out what God's will for us is, and are able to take a stab at carrying it out.”

Isn’t that a great thought? So it makes me wonder, am I creating and keeping such an environment? Does my home help or hinder our family as we seek to follow God with all that we are?

Third, I have a hunch that exactly this sort of work, the work of sustaining something by tending to it over and over again has something to say to me about God. I haven’t figured it out yet. But I know it’s there. I’ll keep you posted when I get some insight into that.

All of these are good reasons to view my work as good, noble and sanctifying. Now excuse me while I go throw another load in the washing machine . . .



  1. love this post lindsey - i definitely struggle with the same thing! I am working a few days a week but the rest of the time i am maintaining our home, but sometimes i feel unfulfilled like it's not "real" work, it wont get me anywhere, it's not deemed as "successful" to be a homemaker - and i get caught in these traps of thinking, and then i let the house get messy and we eat kraft dinner, and I feel terrible.
    it's funny that when I think about what God's will is for our family - I know a huge part of that is hosting people in our home on a very regular basis, something that has been so deeply fulfilling to me, and ironically part of that has been keeping our house tidy and the fridge stocked and the floors mopped.
    Well - lots to think about! keep posting! I like your thoughts.

  2. It all changes as your family dynamics change, too. There's always going to be a "mess", I guess it's just that our level of tolerating it goes up or down depending on alot of things.

    The more kids = more mess, but that also usually = the mess doesn't bother us as moms as much as before.

    I think a great mother's day gift or bday gift idea to ask for from hubby would be a 3 month gift of a cleaning lady so that we don't have to spend our weekends cleaning, and can spend that time w/ family.


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