“The LORD our God has secrets known to no one.” Deuteronomy 29:29
You know what? I have a secret. You’re never going to guess what it is.
*whispered aside* “I have dirty dishes.”
Shocking. I know. But it’s true!
Tonight is Gabe’s second birthday party, a sleepover with his four best friends, I don’t know what I was thinking! As I was racing home from work tonight to try and do a *little* more cleaning before they all got here, I was more compelled to clean my desk than the sink FULL of dishes. Which I found interesting, but since my desk is right in front of the front door I supposed it made sense because the other mom’s most likely wouldn’t be coming all the way into the house, but rather just standing in the entry way. But then later, as I was cleaning up that sink full of dishes after dinner so that I would have room to make breakfast in the morning, a thought occurred to me.
“Why don’t we want other moms to see our dirty dishes (or desks for that matter)?” I mean, it’s not like they don’t have them too. Or that they assume that you don’t since you never actually USE those things right? (That’s sarcasm by the way.) We don’t want those other moms to see our messes. Why? Do we feel like those messes will make them think we’re a substandard mom? I don’t know about you, but I’ve certainly had those thoughts before! Tonight being one of them!
As I stood scrubbing the mold from the Rubbermaid lid pondering the mortally shameful consequences of getting caught with dirty dishes, a revelation of monumental proportions came to me. If I’m defining my quality of mothering by the cleanliness of my house, or the number of loads of laundry I get done in a day, or the cuisine that I’m serving my children, then what kind of a mother will I be when I am no longer able to do those things? Take a moment to read that sentence again and again until you can feel the Truth of that statement lifting something unnecessary from your shoulders.
Sometimes I get so focused on the temporal I forget the importance of the eternal. Dirt is temporal, memories are eternal. When my children leave this nest if I’ve defined my mothering by the temporal tasks alone, then I’ll suddenly find myself a mother no longer! And yet NOTHING could be further from the Truth! There is so much MORE to mothering than cleaning and laundry and cooking!
Mothering is LOVING!!! And that NEVER ends!
It never goes away and it never stops.
There was a funeral I attended once where every single person that stood up to talk spoke of how much of how important cleanliness was to their mom. They said a few other things, but mostly, they told stories of how they got in trouble for making messes. That’s just not what I want my kids to remember about me when I’m gone. There will come a day when I leave this earth and my children will gather in my memory and reminisce about me. And when they do, what do I want them to say? “Boy, Mom sure could keep a good house!” “Mom was so good at keeping our clothes clean and organized.” Or “Gosh Mom was such a great cook!” No. Not me.
I want them to remember the way that I held them when they were sad. I want them to remember how I sang while I cooked dinner, and perhaps burned it on more than one occasion to the point of setting the smoke alarms off. I want them to remember how I watched their favorite shows with them and how I played cards with them until bed time while the dinner dishes sat in the sink waiting until we were done. I want them to remember dancing with me in the kitchen to our favorite songs. I want them to remember how I hugged them so tightly at night that we joked that their heads were going to pop off. And then I said, “I love you” with all the emotion and sincerity that those simple words could possibly muster. I want them to remember how I showed up to every recital and play and program, even if I *might* have forgotten about it right up to the very last second; but I was there. I want them to remember how I sat there on the sidelines at the tennis court season after season cheering them on, just for hitting the ball back across the net; even if it didn’t go into the right box on the court.
No. I’m not the perfect mom. I don’t have a perfect house, or a perfect yard. Our laundry is NEVER done and neither are my dishes. But you know what, that’s OK. Because while those things may not be getting done all the way all the time, my kids KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that I love them and that I will always be there for them if it is in my power to do so. I think that’s a mothering definition that will far outlast me. Don’t you think so?