My wife, Erin, has been down with the fu since last Sunday night. After making it's way through our 4 boys, it attacked her with a vengeance. That means for the last 6 days I have been a stay at home mom in addition to my usual roles of dad and pastor. Perhaps not surprisingly, this has given me a new perspective on the life and work of a mother.
This is not a post about the spiritual side of motherhood, the nobility of the job moms do in raising children, etc. It is not about milkshakes and straws. Others have written well about those things. It's about hard work.
After this past week, I'm beat. Is this how it feels at the end of every day, moms? I would finish one task and think that I had a second to catch my breath when I would remember the washer or drier had sung it's little song telling me it was done (seriously...our washer and drier play a little tune when they finish their cycle instead of buzzing; it's endearingly infuriating). Now, I do some work around the house on a regular basis even when my wife is healthy. I occasionally do laundry and pretty regularly do dishes, dishwasher loading and emptying, etc. This work is not foreign to me, but the unceasing nature of it is. How do moms ever get anything besides laundry and dishes and cooking done? And speaking of cooking. I think all of our children had 3 meals a day this week, but it takes doing to have 3 squares a day on the table for 4 hungry boys (and their parents). If you catch me complaining about dinner not being ready when it's "supposed" to be, remind me of this past week. The ability to pull off breakfast, lunch, and dinner and not step on one of the kids or spill something on them is impressive. I did it for a week. Wow, good job; pat on the back for me. Erin does it EVERY DAY.
It is easy for me to think, "I'm a church planter. I do the important, stressful, exhausting work around here. Dishes and laundry and cooking are not big deal." I stand corrected. All of those things (and a myriad more that moms do) are a big deal, they are stressful, and they are exhausting. Her exhaustion when she collapses into bed at night may be different than mine, but it is every bit as real.
But this isn't the half of it. I didn't do a lot of the things Erin does. One of the reasons I was able to do some of her work was because she has established repeatable patterns; an orderly household without which I couldn't have kept up with laundry, meal preparation, and child care. And boys that do regular chores and can do some extra when mom is down are a testament to the work that mom has done with them when she's been up.
I don't think that I have been unappreciative of the work my wife does. I have always known she works hard and been thankful for it, but now I know a bit more of just how hard she works and hopefully am far more thankful. It's at this point that I wish I could hear Paul Harvey's voice saying "So God made a mother." Instead, I say thank you to my wife, Erin, and my mom: two of the hardest working women I've ever known.
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