My friend, Dacia, runs her own business from home and has two adorable little kids. She recently posted on her IG stories about being home alone and randomly catching herself calling out “what?” She just laughed about it and said, “that’s how many times my name (aka ‘mom’) has been called in the last 24 hours … I’m just conditioned to call out ‘what?’ every so often.”
If that doesn’t sum up the life of a mom, I don’t know what does.
Motherhood is made up of countless mundane habits and tasks repeated over and over and over again, punctuated by thrills of novelty. Motherhood is answering to “mama” so much, so often, that you can hear it ringing in your ears long after your children are put to bed. It is chopping up food into bite size pieces for breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, and snack, and then washing the highchair, sweeping the floor, wiping the hands, and cleaning the bib after each meal. It is pushing the toddler on the swing until your arms are numb, but her giggles somehow infuse the strength in your limbs to continue. It is nightly zipping him up into soft pajamas and getting sloppy, sticky kisses professing his undying love, even when you feel you don’t deserve it.
Sometimes the monotony of motherhood can feel overwhelming. Your job is never done, your tasks never complete. A lawyer can deliver a beautiful closing argument and close her case. A surgeon can mend a heart, then wash her hands from the surgery and go home. An artist can paint the last stroke on a canvas, then seal up her paints and hang the art in a gallery. Yet a mother kisses a boo-boo, washes behind dirty ears, mops a kitchen floor, folds soon-to-be dirtied clothes, and then prepares to redo it all the next day.
As a work-from-home mom, I have been guilty many times of looking at these monotonous tasks as the things keeping me from more meaningful work. I have looked at women in other seasons of life, maybe without children or maybe with older, more independent children, and envied their freedom to go after dreams or callings or giftings that God has given them. If I didn’t spend so much time serving my toddler and pre-schooler, would I have written my book by now? If my mind didn’t feel so numb at the end of a needy day, would I be farther along in what I think my ministry should look like? Am I less valuable to the world and the Kingdom since I spend all day scraping up dried gummies from the kitchen floor and fishing random items out of my baby’s mouth? Am I showing my daughters how to be a dynamic, world-changing woman if my biggest accomplishment that day was successfully clipping my one-year-old pterodactyl’s fingernails?
This never-ending repetition of a mother’s tasks can feel like the very thing holding you back from getting the “good” work done. But what if, in fact, these mundane tasks are where the miracle is?
GK Chesterton wrote, “Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
It’s okay, go ahead and read it again to let it sink in. Bro. GK was speaking straight to my heart.
Now, the daily (hourly) task of diaper changes may not at first appear as glorious as the way the sun daily rises, but they both carry a hint of the consistency for which our Father is known. He has a limitless imagination, yet He has been content for thousands of years to keep on creating daisies with sunny yellow centers and long white petals.
God is known for His unchanging, consistent, never-failing ways. He doesn’t look at the sun and say, “I need excitement! How about you rise from the west today?” He doesn’t look at Monday and say, “I just created you last week. I’m tired of it. Let’s just not do Monday this week.” He doesn’t look at the lilies and say, “My glory and worth are better shown in big, public arenas. Clothing you is not worth my time.” No, He doesn’t say that at all.
Matthew 6:28-30 says, “And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?”
He arranges petal on lilies in the field that won’t even last a day. He tells the sea at each tide how far to come in. He holds the earth up every second of every minute in the vastness of space. He creates winter, spring, summer, and fall, and then starts all over again without fail. He provides us with new mercies each and every morning.
Yes, He does great and mighty miracles – stories that we pass down to our children and their children. He heals blinded eyes and gives children to the barren and shrinks tumors and speaks in rolls of thunder. But are those moments of loud, earth-shaking, breath-taking feats of His power more “important” than the daily acts of sustaining and protecting and speaking and leading and guiding He does for us all? Would we dare tell God that His unfailing consistency isn’t as miraculous as the moments He surprises us?
If God can be glorified in the consistent clothing of the lily, then surely He can be glorified in my consistent tasks of mothering. Surely He looks at the mother, wiping her little one’s runny nose for the tenth time that day, with the same reckless love with which He looks at the one standing on stage speaking to hundreds. He is God of the unimaginable universe, yet He counts our hairs one by one on our head. Surely I can slow down enough to read my daughter her favorite book a few more (hundred) times.
The never-ending repetition of a mother’s tasks is not the thing holding us back from getting to the “good” work. It’s not what we need to check off a to-do list before finally going after our calling or gifting or purpose. Maybe God is taking this time in the trenches to mold us mamas into an image more like Him? Maybe it is a season where He is using the monotony to strip the excess off us. Maybe it’s not always the loud moments of acclaim on social media, but the quiet moments in the basement folding clean footed jammies that He looks at us and says, “Yes, I see My light reflecting from her.”
There are God-reflecting miracles in the daily mundane of motherhood. There is beauty and glory and power in the daily sweeping and disciplining and cooking. We just have to look closely not to miss them.