After I wrote the last post about the clutter in my house and my heart, I realized again how hard it is to stay on top of everything, especially if children are in the picture. Before children, I was able to put everything in its proper place, and everything stayed there. I took care of my stuff. I got rid of the things I didn’t want. I added the things I wanted. I decorated according to my tastes. I fixed meals to suit my schedule. I slept when I was tired, and I wasn’t interrupted. I worked when I felt like it. I took breaks when I felt I needed them. It was I, I, I…. When children came, all of a sudden my perfectly ordered environment experienced some upheaval. No longer did I have the luxury of sleeping all night. My projects were interrupted by crying babies or children that needed attention. Meals were not always ready on time. The household tasks seemed never-ending, and I found myself getting behind in my desired schedule. I worked hard everyday, but had little to show for it by the end of the day. I was tired, cranky, and stressed! Was having 7 children in 9 years worth it? Though there were days I questioned my sanity, my heart responded, yes, yes, yes! God made each of my children for His purpose. He has good plans for them, AND He has good plans for me.
One great benefit of having children is that God uses them to drive the selfishness out of us. I had to change my perspective from “me-first” to “others first.” If I didn’t, the stress would continue to mount and I was liable to explode, hurting those I was meant to nurture and protect. Jesus took on the form of a servant and that is what I am called to do. As a mother, I am called to serve my family. I find that if I serve with a good attitude, I am less stressed. I learned early in my mothering career that I had to relax my perfectionistic standards and expectations if I wanted the children to help. Does it really matter if the towels are folded in halves instead of thirds when placed on the towel bar? No. Does it matter if the books are placed on the shelves in a particular order? No. Does it matter if it takes an hour to do dishes rather than 30 minutes? No. Does it matter that my orderly rooms turn chaotic during playtime? No. Does it matter that my children are learning life skills? Yes. Does it matter if my children feel affirmed in their efforts? Yes. Does it matter if relationships are being built? Yes. Does it matter that I am a joyful mother of children? Yes. After 26+ years of mothering, do I respond correctly in every situation? NO, NO, NO. Ask my kids. They know me. Do I see growth? Absolutely. I share this with the hope that you, too, will see God at work in you. Remember, He knows what is needed to make us into the people we were meant to be. I guess I needed 12 children to release me from myself.
On the lighter side, a little comic relief goes a long way in helping us cope with the present clutter. My mom sent me the following comic back in 1996 when I had those 7 children ages 9 and under. It expressed my situation perfectly, and still does. Don’t forget, I still have a 5 year old and an 8 year old who at this moment have the hallway and dining room floors covered with animals and “little people” figures. And where are the boys? Probably in another room making another mess!