Doing the same tasks over and over can be grating, but is it worth it?
I first wrote this post back in November of 2014 when my daughter was 5 and my son was 1-1/2. I recently reread it and was struck anew by it. I am sharing it here with very minor editing. Enjoy!
Sometimes life is tedious. Sometimes motherhood is tedious. I can’t tell you how many times I wash the same dishes, fold the same clothes, put away the same toys, do the same bedtime rituals, prepare the same snacks and read the same books.
I can’t tell you how many times I vacuum the same carpet, clean off the same countertop, change the same sheets and drive the same route to and from preschool. It’s a lot.
Being home with two small children is predictably unpredictable. Every day some things are the same. Every day some things are different. It’s tedious. It’s exhausting. It’s consuming. It’s draining. But, is it worth it?
I was reheating homemade potato soup for the kids’ dinner last week before we left for the evening to do some work with family. The kids were in the living room playing contently with my husband — a fact for which I was grateful. My toddler is very impatient when it comes to food and likes to orbit around me wailing while I prepare most meals. It’s delightful.
I had on my favorite Christian station. I’m more a fan of music and less a fan of talk on the radio, but in between songs when my hands were too busy to change the station, the DJ came on. He read a story from “Guideposts” about a man who had worked on Mt. Rushmore who shared how tedious the job was and how he learned that even tedious tasks are important to the big picture.
The woman interviewing him then related that to her own life and the tedious tasks of raising her sons and all that entailed. However, her sons are now grown and the tediousness is gone; she sits and looks at the grown men she has raised and is proud. The tedious tasks she did for them helped create a wonderful finished product.
The story hit my heart. It brought tears to my eyes immediately as I realized I am most definitely in the tedious phase of motherhood. I finished cutting some grapes and buttering some bread and called the kids to the table. As we ate our dinner and chatted, my toddler son was having a rough evening. He’s cutting a tooth and he can be quite grumpy about it. He’s also obsessed with raisins and wants them all the time for every meal and really only raisins would be just fine by him. I don’t agree that he can survive solely on raisins, so mealtimes are often a battlefield right now.
During a very short respite in our dinnertime battles, I sent up a fervent prayer while the message from the radio lingered in my heart, “Lord, please let this all be worth it. Let my children grow up to be awesome people.”
It’s tedious. It’s hard. It’s all-consuming. I know. I’ve said these things already, but I feel the need to say them again because they are so very true. I’d like to think that it will all be worth it. I don’t think I’d mind a small peek at the future to see my children living their lives as thriving, intelligent, caring and loving adults who I somehow didn’t manage to completely mess up.
That look at the future isn’t possible, though. So I will just have to keep trusting that every day, every small task I do repeatedly and in the midst of chaos is worth it. I have to remind myself that the more goodness from me and from God that I pour into my children, the more goodness they’ll pour back out into the world. And this world can always use more goodness.
I see glimpses of what the future might look like for my children as they grow up. I’m not sure what their occupations will be. Right now my daughter wants to be a doctor, a paleontologist or an art teacher. Right now what I see in her is a sweet spirit full of encouragement for others. I see in her a great compassion and willingness to love with a big heart. That will serve her well in the future. She will excel at making friends and making people feel valued. She already does.
My son is younger, so I’ve not had as much time to get to know him and he can’t yet communicate to me what he wants to be when he grows up, but I see a tenacity in him. He is determined and won’t give up on something he wants. While that’s frustrating to me while he’s a toddler and what he wants is something that isn’t safe for him, this character trait will serve him well in the future as he pursues his dreams and goals. I see in him an ease to laugh and love. He laughs more easily than any child I’ve been around. I adore it. I hope he always retains that inner joy.
Where are you today? Are you with me stuck in the tedious tasks of motherhood that sometimes seem to drain your very life force? Are you wondering if all the hard work will be worth it in the end? Will we one day forget this tedious phase just like we have (mostly) forgotten the pain of childbirth? I think so.
Of course I don’t have all the answers. My journey is far from complete with my children. We have a long way to go, but I am going to keep pressing forward, putting one foot in front of the other, completing one tedious task after the next because that’s what a long line of moms has done before me and it worked out for them.
I will also keep moving forward and doing everything I can for my children simply because they need me and I love them in an all-consuming way that keeps me moving even when I’d much rather lie down and sleep for two weeks. Tedious? Yes. Worth it? Definitely!