A few years ago, Ocieanna Fleiss—wife and work-at-home mother of four young children—would have described herself as overwhelmed and focused on finishing her to-do list. But when at age forty-two, a sudden cardiac arrest stopped her heart, everything changed. Amazed by God’s loving hand, Ocieanna discovered that sometimes the most loving moments come when doing the seemingly least important “mom tasks.” The following is an excerpt from her new book, Love Like There’s No Tomorrow, published by Broadstreet Publishing Group.
I’d been home from the hospital about a month on that pasty white day. Glancing out the window of my upstairs bedroom, I watched as the sun patiently waited behind the sheet of clouds. Hungry for my kids, again hoping to dip my toe in the pond of participation, I carefully made my way down the stairs on my own. Soon the help that had carried my household responsibilities would dwindle. It already had. Could I do this mom-in-charge thing again? Was I ready to run a home and a family? Would I ever be?
I quietly approached the family room. Gabrielle sat at the island, concentrating on a laptop. Christian filled a cup of water at the sink. Abigail perched at the table choosing a crayon to decorate her coloring book.
Glancing around, I noticed a load of clean socks splayed on the couch, washed by the wispy cleaning ladies. Normally, a pile of laundry would form a stew of guilt in my stomach. But now a different blend stirred—joy and opportunity.
As I wended toward the couch, pretty Gabrielle spied me. Her eyes brightened. “Mama? You’re down here?”
The others heard and trotted toward me like a troop of happy kittens. I welcomed their hugs as we toppled onto the sofa.
Then as the early February sun angled through the hand-print-bedecked window, like a coming home, or a fresh start …
I folded socks.
Yes, I did. I dug up two matches—Christian’s white ones with stains and a hole in the toe—and folded them into each other. My hands remembered the cotton knit. I smelled the faint detergent. My heart rejoiced that I was here to fold my babies’ socks. That I could even do it.
So I held that matched and folded sock bundle before me like a trophy. “Look, guys!”
The kids, who still orbited close by, gazed with awe at my accomplishment. Relief flickered through their faces, saying, Mama’s going to take care of us again. I was doing what a mom was supposed to do.
We burst out laughing.
“Mama did it!” Gabrielle said in her big-sisterly manner.
Abigail hopped in excitement. “Yay!”
Christian gave me a high five, and we held hands and danced a sock dance for a short moment until I had to sit back down.
I missed the trivial tasks, the mom things, the insignificant chores. In my previous life, these tasks wore on me like necessary, unpleasant wastes of time, but not anymore. Now, far from burdening me, being able to do this one simple chore brought joy, satisfaction, fulfillment.
Then it hit me. Folding socks equaled love.
The tasks I did every day—those tiny boxes on the to-do list—used to be drudgery. I acted as a janitor of our house, cleaning up, checking things off, for no other reason than I had to. Day after day, what was the point?
But now, oh my! Folding socks and all the other chores gained new meaning. I was not a janitor. I was a mom. What I did—all those endless jobs, all of them—meant something. They meant love.
What a joy to embrace this truth. Realizing that each chore I accomplished amounted to an act of love transformed the way I served my family. How much easier it was to get through that stinky pile of laundry, or scummy bathtubs, or never-ending dishes when I knew that doing these things communicated love.
Finishing up the socks, I paused, allowing the kids to enjoy some rare time with me downstairs, but soon weariness fell. I kissed and hugged each one, then asked Gabrielle to shepherd me back up the stairs to rest.
After she left, as I drifted toward sleep, a verse floated to mind. “The greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:11).
It occurred to me that this thing I do—being a mom, a housekeeper, a wife—in Jesus’ kingdom, is big.
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Copyright 2016 Ocieanna Fleiss. Printed here with the kind permission of Broadstreet Publishing Group. All rights reserved.
About the author: Ocieanna Fleiss has written three historical novels with Tricia Goyer in the best-selling Love Finds You series. She speaks at churches, parenting groups, and writers conferences and teaches a Bible class to homeschool junior high students. She penned a writing column for eight years and contributes to the Seriously Write blog. She has also written for MOMSense, MOPS.org, Hearts at Home, Guideposts for Kids, and CBA Marketplace. She is a member of the Northwest Christian Writers Association and the Writers View. Ocieanna makes her home in Seattle, Washington with her husband and four kids. Connect with Ocieanna at Ocieanna.com.