The other night, after all the kids were finally quiet and tucked into their beds my husband and I crashed onto the couch to wind down after a particularly exhausting day. Before we plugged ourselves into a movie I sighed to my husband, “Do you ever look forward to when things will just be easier?” To which he responded typically with another question to challenge me to think more about what I just asked, “What would be easier? Having everyone do everything for you?” If you know my husband, you’ll know his question was half snark half serious but in no way meant to imply that I was just being whiny or lazy. Ahem…right honey?
Anyway, his question, though a bit blunt, did make me pause and think about what I did mean by easier. For me, I don’t envision having maids and servants doing everything for me to make life easier…though it would take away about 90% of my stress. I know that doing the dishes and the laundry and other household ‘duties’ are just part of my life and I’m not sure what I would do if I had someone doing it all for me every day. (I’m not sure why my husband laughed when I said this)
That said here are some things my ‘easy button’ makes happen every now and then that do take a little pressure off the pedal:
- My baby playing happily outside or downstairs or anywhere but in the kitchen while I’m trying to cook or clean-up.
- My baby reading books quietly in the bathroom while I shower.
- My daughter being home from school to help ‘entertain’ the baby while I try do things.
- My daughter being a sister to her brother and not his second ‘mommy’. (whoever thinks a child can have 2 mommies without going crazy is seriously mistaken)
- My four-year old not spitting in the baby’s face or pulling on his feet or waving his hands in his hair or touching him at all while I’m on the phone, on the computer or at the store.
- My four-year old being sweet and kind and listening and doing what I say exactly as I say it the first time I say it without asking my why or pouting or stomping while doing it.
- My 13-year-old sister now being old enough and ‘mature’ enough to help babysit and ‘entertain’ the children for me.
- The baby taking a solid uninterrupted nap (he’s woken up 2 times so far while I’ve tried writing this…3)
- The baby sleeping a full night’s sleep without waking up until the morning (oh wait, this hasn’t actually ever happened yet)
But what about the times when the easy button is on the fritz and life is anything but easy?
Like a friend said yesterday while we discussed this very topic, household duties tend to get very monotonous very quickly. So does disciplining my children for the same thing over and over and over…
For me, a frequent battle of wills ensues in my mind when it comes to domestic duties. I hear the world and ‘liberated feminists’ turning their nose up and telling me I shouldn’t have to do these things just because I am a woman or because I am the wife and mom. Sometimes, when I see my children step over toys instead of picking them up I can’t help but feel a little insulted-they just expect me to pick it up so they don’t bother. Why should I have to be the only one to do all this?
I also have chronic problems with comparing myself to my husband. He gets to go to work and then come home and be ‘done’ with work. Mine never stops. When he wants to do something, he just does it without having to think about how much time he has before the baby will want to nurse again or everyone will want to eat again or…you get the picture.
But I know deep down that’s just the devil’s slyness slithering in my ear. Deep down I know that I should do these things accept my limitations not because I am a mom and wife but for the husband and children that honor me with those titles.
This revelation has been repeatedly inspired by friends who are in the trenches with me. I’ve also been reading Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light and aside from loving surrender and total trust in God, she included “perfect cheerfulness” in the spirit of the new Society of the Missionaries of Charity. Even though her work was both physically and emotionally exhausting, she offered it up cheerfully for the sake of souls-that they would receive the Light of Christ.
Since reading about her commitment to cheerfulness, I’ve tried to apply this to my own life as a mother and wife. I did after all take a vow as well and am called to live my vocational life, every part of it, lovingly right?
Still, I find it difficult many days and usually come up short. There are days that my hormones seem to take over and I can’t seem to crack even a forced smile. “The spirit is willing but the flesh is week,” comes to mind several times throughout my days.
Interestingly I found some insightful words about cheerfulness by Peter Kreeft he said in a review I found when I searched for Mother Teresa and cheerfulness (has anyone read the book he reviewed? It looks great!)
They show us that cheerfulness is neither a temporary feeling nor a genetic predisposition but a choice. A matter of free choice-of will, not emotion. This cheerfulness is not a teeth-gritting, “stiff upper lip” cheerfulness but one grounded in truth and in fact, in the certainty of the goodness and wisdom and power of God.
The other day I decided, I made a choice, to do the laundry and the cleaning and all the mommy stuff as cheerfully as I could. At one point, I was folding some laundry and instead of grouching I simply asked God to take my work as an offering so that my husband would have a “productive day at work”. I put it out there and then mostly forgot about that until my husband came home later. I asked him how his day was and he said it was good, it was a “very productive day.” !!
This word choice was not lost on me, not at all.
It was a simple undeserved gift of affirmation to me from God. “Yes, I do hear you. Yes your prayers and little sacrifices do make a difference.”
What do your “easy buttons” do to make things a little easier in your life? How do YOU choose to be cheerful?
Copyright 2011 Erika Marie