One of the things about being a stay at home mom that is hardest for me is the seemingly endless repetition of my days. Laundry, dishes, sweeping the floor, rocking the baby, feeding the kids, getting everyone to sleep, collapsing in a heap on the couch until my own bedtime, then waking up and doing it all over again. It wears on my soul. I am a classic overachiever. I do not idle well. So many of the tasks I do during this season of my life seem small and insignificant, menial. It just seems an ill fit. While my heart knows that what I am doing is important, there is still a huge part of me that feels unfulfilled and abandoned. It is easy to long for a different type of day, one that is not so wrapped up in the monotony of keeping house.
Left to dwell on all of that, it's easy to sink into a pit, mired down by self pity and envy. Which then leaves me with a choice regarding the pit: do I want to live my day and night in the pit or do I believe God intends something better for me?
My daily to do list of things that are ultimately never done is so closely linked to worship because worship in and of itself is never done. Kathleen Norris writes in The Quotidian Mysteries, "Dailiness can lead to such despair and yet also be at the core of our salvation." How? Because our personal spiritual walks are always about the daily task of staying close to God. This God who knows everything somehow knows that the repetitious tasks of our daily lives mirror our need for the repetitious tasks of Godly living, that without such repetition we would surely walk far from Him.
How ironic it is that the very tasks that create such annoyance in me, the constant stream of dishes, the overflowing laundry, that these are the things children long to play? Five, six and seven year olds could spend hours pretending to do these tasks, engaged and active, not caught up in the adult feelings of drudgery. Ask a child to pick a book or a movie and what might he or she choose? Not a new title. Instead, he or she is likely to pick a familiar story, one he or she adores and loves. "Again, again!" is the mantra of childhood. Children who are free to choose choose the spirit of routine. As adults, though, we long for the freedom of childhood but bristle at the thought of the day in and day out tasks required of us.
Yes, there should be something sacred in my everyday. All too often the sacred gets lost in the clutter on the counter and the tears of the baby. The day seems endless. Norris sums it up through the words of a monk who wrote "the sun hardly moves, if at all and that the day is fifty hours long." For me, the days do not necessarily drag on but this season of young children and motherhood surely does. Yet, this liturgical rhythm of my day is sacred and holy, something I all too often miss. I need to see His presence in my sleeping seven year old whose eyes flutter as he turns over, stiffling a yawn. "How on earth did he ever fit in my lap? God has grown him so tall." I need to see His presence in the fuzzy hair of the baby. "Chubby cheeks, coppery hair, a dimpled chin-somehow those things make me smile. How did God know how to put this little guy together?" I need to see His presence as I sit in the rocking chair, endlessly rocking, because those quiet moments are opportunities for reflection and gratitude. Because all the endless moments are moments for that, for finding the sacred in the mundane.