At The End of My Life

photo (51)We have survived our first week and a half with an additional little one living in our home.  Having three children under the age of six years of age and a full-time job outside of the home has made for some interesting changes in our schedules and time spent on various tasks.  From Legos on the table to semi-folded laundry piled on a chair to baby wipes dispersed throughout, one can tell our lives have been a little hectic lately.  Let’s just put it this way, if you were to walk into my home, you would certainly find the remnants of childhood scattered throughout.

My mom stopped by this afternoon and before she could enter the living room, I found myself issuing an apology of sorts for the way the house looked.  Before I digress any further, I should tell you that I’ve never been one to have a perfectly clean home at all times.  Life is not perfect.  I am not perfect, and, in my opinion, homes certainly need to look as though they are lived in.

After weaving our way through the living room, stepping over a few toys, and entering the kitchen (which was equally “lived in”), I said to my mom, “I’ve decided that no one will say “Caroline sure kept a clean house” at my funeral.”  My mom (whose home is almost always immaculate), agreed with this statement by saying something to the effect of “Yeah, you’re right.  They won’t be saying that.”

Now, one might take offense to this, but I don’t.  The truth is that is not what I hope people say at my funeral anyway.  I don’t want to be known for neatly folded towels.  The towels are clean, they are good at drying off the kids, and well, they serve their purpose.  I certainly won’t be known for clutter-free floors.  I have a boy who loves Legos and any other small knick-knacky kind of gadgets he can find.  These little feet-killers usually find their way from the floor to the skin of my bare feet on any given day.  My floors have toys splattered around like some sort of painting.  I choose to refer to it as “artistic expression”.

I have a daughter whose short attention span leans towards getting out stuffed animals, baby dolls, kitchen utensils, art supplies, blankets, and even more blankets.  If you ever come to my home, you will not need to worry about being cold!  There are plenty of blankets and baby dolls lying around the living room for you to snuggle.

The newest member of our home is a 7-month-old baby boy.  He really can’t be blamed for any mess necessarily, unless you consider that laundry just got increased, stinky diapers make their way to our trash can, and formula is sometimes dusted onto our counter-tops like some sort of cooking seasoning.  He even likes to “season” me with formula from time-to-time.  I may even use it as perfume soon!

I say all of this jokingly, but also as a reminder to myself, and maybe a few other moms, to stop fretting over the small stuff.  Yes, it can be distressing to have little dirt and clutter fairies sprinkling their magic around the house right after I get through cleaning it.  It may frustrate me that I can’t just wiggle my nose like “I Dream of Jeannie”, and make the house instantly clean up.  I may even find myself full of doubt about being able to manage three young children, a job, and a home at the same time, but, at the end of the day, I need to remember these are not the things I want to be remembered for anyway.

Years before any of this occurred, I never dreamed of having a home full of loving, laughing, playful, and messy children.  I never imagined that I would spend a great deal of time playing catch up on the housework, folding little girl’s dresses, getting stains out of blue jeans, or bending over to pick up toys at random spots throughout the house.  I certainly never thought I would care for a third baby (wow- what a blessing).

 I never really pictured children in my life at all.

I know the cleanliness (or lack there of on any given day) of my home will not be spoken about when reflecting on my life.  I won’t be known as an extremely organized parent who spent a great deal of time labeling drawers, or using a color-coded closet organization system.  I certainly won’t be known as carrying any hint of perfection in my personal, professional, or domestic life.

At the end of my life, I hope I’m known for what the Lord has done.  I hope people speak about my life that went from being barren to blessed.  I hope people can say that they saw me living a life yearning to do His will.  I pray my children will say this as well.

No, I may not have the cleanest home on the block.  I may not fold laundry in a timely manner, frantically sweep up all the little dust bunnies that hang out under the beds, or even stay up extra late to get that last bit of cleaning done.  At the end of my life, I pray I will be known for having a home that welcomed children, welcomed love, and welcomed Him.

Confessions of a Working Mom

DREAM
DREAM

I am a mother with a full-time job outside of the home.  It is not that I’m necessarily at the office long hours of the day, but, I’m in a leadership position at my work, and often have to be available to emails and calls even if sitting on my couch.  There are expectations, decisions, and paperwork on my plate at all times.  There are new policies to be read, meetings to attend, and staff work to be approved.  I know that my work in child welfare is a ministry and I’m extremely blessed to work for a Christian agency, but I feel pulled in so many directions most of the time.  I often wonder if my work in helping other families distracts me from taking care of my own.

With this in mind, I have a confession to make:  I daydream about being a stay-at-home mother.  I imagine waking up after getting a restful long night of sleep, greeting my lovelies in the best “Snow White-Princessy” kind of voice while wearing fluffy house-shoes, and whipping up fresh made biscuits (not from a can).  I imagine sending my son off to school without the rush of madness in the morning.  I imagine my daughter attending preschool just one day per week instead of forty hours per week.

In my dreamland of non-salaried motherhood, my house is spotless (ALL of the time), the yard is sculpted to perfection, there are no laundry piles, toys are sorted by color, shape, or function, pets are always well-groomed, husband is also always well-groomed, meals are diverse and over-the-top healthy, and every sock is matched with the other.  My home looks like most of the fantastic homes on the ever-popular, yet, intimidating website Pinterest.  In my dreamland, there are lunch dates with friends, salon treatments, and a personal trainer.  There’s cycling during the day, hanging out in a coffee shop with my laptop, baking cookies with the kids, shopping trips with my daughter, play dates at the park, more church activities, and volunteering at the local hospital.

In this dream, I’m always in a good mood, never stressed, and feel constantly “in the moment” with my children and husband.  I don’t have to worry about budgets other than my own, and I don’t have to read new policies.  I don’t have to say yes or no to employees, and my focus is only on home life….

Okay, so I know that all mom’s work regardless of employment.  I know (or at least have learned vicariously) that it is difficult to stay home full-time with young children.  My friends who do not have employment outside of the home struggle with finding time for themselves, mounds of laundry, bored kids, fighting siblings, and feeling overwhelmed.

REALITY
REALITY

Motherhood is hard regardless of receiving a paycheck or not.  Motherhood is all-encompassing.  We are never really “off the clock”.  We don’t get to call in sick to our kids, or take vacation days.  We are love-givers, nutritionists, chefs, boo-boo healers, life coaches, fashion advisers, groomers, interior designers, friend creators, manicurists, pedicurists, personal bankers, and housekeepers.  We are dictionaries, spiritual advisers, encyclopedias, social skills teachers, and tutors.  We are warriors, protectors, and commanders.  We also know that we wouldn’t have it any other way.

I guess, then, that we are all the same.  Employed outside of the home or not, we all probably dream of waking up and greeting our little ones like a Disney Princess, making fresh made biscuits not from a can, and wearing matching socks.