It's afternoon when I stand at the sink, scrubbing potatoes and chopping them coarse, slipping them into an already boiling pot of chicken and stock and comfort for this fall day. The loaves are almost ready to go into their toasty oven home and I see Ben come sauntering up the driveway, hands slouched in his pockets and shoulders shrugged against the chill in the October air.
The girls are each at a computer, working on phonics while the baby naps away the afternoon upstairs. Jonah is playing with a new task sent home from his co op class, contented for now. I switch over laundry and sweep floors and mentally make a list of things I need to do.
While I mutter tasks to myself, I wonder - how can this all possibly get done? The schooling and the food making and shopping and clean up, the laundry and the cleaning that never quite gets done? The time for those things that just crop up, like ministering to a child, or requests for water or snacks, or still nursing a little one? Energy for my husband at the end of the day, time to answer emails, to plan Christmas and Halloween costumes for 5 little people? Time to tote kids to and from ballet rehearsals, basketball try outs, homeschool co op, Sunday school and don't forget lots of time for just natural, organic living, us altogether, reading and learning and growing?
I laugh out loud, right there in the kitchen. It all seems like a big joke. There's not enough time, not enough of me - not enough hands or energy or...really, any of it.
The sun is blazing a trail across the dining room floor as I sweep up remnants of last night's dinner. The dishwasher beeps - ready to be unloaded. My bed is unmade upstairs, half buried beneath clean laundry I just couldn't get to during a packed weekend, put off until - when? A day when there will be time? I almost laugh again at the thought.
It's funny...and it's not. God gave us each the same 24 hours, yes, but he gave us different lives. Mine includes 5 little ones, a pregnancy, homeschooling. Some others live with sickness or loneliness, some live in perfectly clean and organized homes but struggle to let things go and just relax with their little blessings. We all have 24 hours of living our flawed existence, the very best we can. Sometimes it all gets done. More often, it doesn't.
There's humility in our humanity, when we can admit it right out loud. A filthy bathroom and laundry everywhere just said what I would not openly admit - that I can't do it all. Not at all. And what's more? No one can. I'm no more supermom or domestic goddess than the next person, and no one knows this better than me, or the people who see the real me, day in, day out.
The trick is to step out of the crush of expectations - because nothing else steals joy quite the same way. This side of heaven, nothing is perfect. This side of heaven, dust creeps back as soon as you wipe it away, children come in with dirty feet as soon as you mop the floor. This side of heaven, undoing is happening right alongside the doing.
But this side of heaven, each day is a new try and each failure is another opportunity to thank God for His perfection, His covering of my failings, His redemption of these many days eaten by the locusts of tasks left undone.
My kids eat soup and we break bread altogether, the seven of us in a ring of candlelight. As we bow our heads together and Dad begins our evening prayer, I glance around and see that in this moment - we are exactly as we should be.
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