My house is a mess these days. Not always, but frequently. I won’t bore you with all the details of why; suffice it to say, my children are 4 1/2, 2, and 6 months.
As last week wound down, my house was getting on my nerves. The dirt, the clutter, the everlasting feeling of why do we have so much stuff combined with I can’t actually declutter because I barely have time to vacuum. Meanwhile, Father’s Day was getting closer and I knew I’d be spending much of Friday making a cheesecake for my husband, because his love language is baked goods. So when was I going to clean? Well, maybe Saturday …
… but early Saturday morning as I nursed the baby and rubbed the sleep from my eyes, I knew the cleaning was not going to happen. Our two-year-old was recovering from a cold again so I couldn’t have Pete take her to the gym with him, which is how I usually catch up on housework on Saturdays. We hadn’t come up with another plan yet. With the cleaning question turning over in my mind, I reached for my Kindle and started reading my morning devotional. Here’s an excerpt:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or drink,
or about your body, what you will wear.
Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds in the sky;
they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns,
yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are not you more important than they?
Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
Why are you anxious about clothes?
Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.
They do not work or spin.
But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor
was clothed like one of them.
If God so clothes the grass of the field,
which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow,
will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?
So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’
or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’
All these things the pagans seek.
Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given you besides.
Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.
Sufficient for a day is its own evil.” (Matthew 6:25-34 NAB)
Of course I wasn’t worried about food or clothing, I was worried about the state of my living room, but I got the message. Don’t worry. I felt certain the Lord wanted me to hear those specific words and heed them. So, I didn’t worry about the housework.
What did I do instead?
I did a photo shoot of all my kids, then Pete and I took them all to the Farmer’s Market. Then we took them to the park and gave them a picnic lunch. Then we put them down for naps and had our own (quiet, relaxed) lunch together. I made him his favorite dinner, and as it simmered, we played with the girls some more. We feasted on dinner and cheesecake, and capped off the evening watching a movie together.
Then the next day, we took the kids to the beach. When we got home we spent a couple hours hanging out on the back porch with the one kid who didn’t nap. We sipped iced coffee and enjoyed our shady yard. Then we did a rush job of straightening up and putting some burgers on the grill for Father’s Day dinner with my in-laws.
Did you see all the moments in that weekend when I could have been cleaning? Oh man, there were tons. Pete could have taken the kids to the Market or the park by himself while I cleaned. I could have cleaned during naptime instead of having a relaxed lunch with him. We could have gotten pizza or Chipotle so I could devote 90 minutes to cleaning instead of cooking. I could have made a pretty convincing case that we couldn’t go to the beach because I needed to clean before having company over.
But that wasn’t what I needed or what my family needed. We needed fun together, we needed togetherness. My hardworking husband needed to be honored for Father’s Day. I needed to get my mind off of the gosh-darn housework for a couple of days.
We had an amazing weekend, and then on Monday I just kept going. Some friends had scheduled a super fun day trip to take with our kids, and I embraced it. My kids loved it, I got to spend time with my girlfriends, it was a perfect trip. Then I got home and …
… my house was a mess. An absolutely crazy-making mess. All the mess that had been there last week, plus some sand scattered all over the floor. Meanwhile the kids’ naps had been messed up by car trips two days in a row, and they were going haywire. The glow from my awesome weekend and awesome day trip started to fade as I really, really started to worry about the housework.
By Tuesday night I still hadn’t had time to clean. I cooked, I did laundry, I took care of the crazy kids, but I just couldn’t find time for any serious cleaning. I was getting desperate. After dinner my husband took the kids out back to swing. It was a beautiful evening, and all I wanted to do was … vacuum.
So I did. Because I really do need to vacuum now and then.
But you know what I didn’t need to do? Worry. The vacuuming got done. And the next day the kids surprised me by being peaceful and taking good naps, and I got a ton more cleaning done. It all gets done eventually. Maybe one of these days I will learn to stop worrying! But for the moment, the Lord’s mercy prompted me to let go of worry for a good three days (OK, maybe two and a half), and I managed to fit a lot of great memories into those days. Thank you Lord!