Families With Grace

Helping Christian moms create homes filled with grace, love & faith

The tediousness of motherhood

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. When I recently reread it, I 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?

Recognizing the tediousness

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. Tears filled 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 had 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.”

Looking ahead

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.

Reminding moms of their importance

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!

Encouragement for moms

A collection of posts to refresh and inspire your mama heart

Being a mom is awesome — and hard! Some days we are nailing it and have found the right balance of fun and caring for our families. And other days we fall flat on our faces. We question whether we’ve made the right choices and criticize ourselves. We wonder how prepared our children are going to be for adulthood. We imagine what they’ll tell their therapists about us in 20 years.

We fall short. We get frustrated. We are exhausted. We are overwhelmed. Sometimes more than anything we could use some encouragement. A few kind words can go a long way. Knowing we aren’t alone can go a long way.

With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of links for you to find encouragement for your mama heart today. Some are from Families with Grace and some are from fellow bloggers. All of them will leave you feeling refreshed, encouraged and ready to get back to the business of motherhood!

For mamas who need a reminder of God’s presence

Photo provided by Living With Margins

God’s promise of gentle leading for moms
Sometimes we can feel like nobody understands and we’re all alone. But, we’re not! God promises to never leave us. And within that, He also has a promise specifically for moms with young children! 

Are we there yet?
Just like our kids ask on long trips, sometimes we wonder if our long, arduous journey will ever get easier. God, are we there, yet?

Young mom — “Some days are just like that”
Hard days come in motherhood, but we were made for more than just survival! Even on hard days (or hard weeks, months or years!) God provides for us.

For mamas who are struggling with contentment

Compare or be content
Not only will mental health experts tell you that comparing yourself to others is just asking for trouble, the Bible also has plenty of advice about it as well.

For mamas overwhelmed by chores

How I stopped being angry at my family
Nobody ever talks about the anger we moms feel sometimes when we get overwhelmed with our tasks and realize that nobody notices or cares what we’re doing. It’s a miserable state in which to live.

Mom brain overload
Part of motherhood exhaustion is being overwhelmed by the mental amount of information in our heads.

Being a Mary and a Martha kind of mom
While getting chores and other tasks finished is important, we also need to remember to take time to just be with our children and enjoy them. Two sisters in the Bible are a great reminder of this!

For mamas whose strength is running low

Feather like faith to a brick wall resolve
Some days take all of our patience and then some. And we need more than our own strength to get through them while being the mom our children need us to be!

For mamas who are feeling the bittersweetness of growing children

The time of my life? I’m living it now!
Life isn’t perfect and motherhood can be hard, but there are sweet moments that remind us how much we love and are loved. It’s sometimes the small moments that make the best memories!

Seeing the past, present and future in my 9-year-old
Our children are growing way faster than we want them to. That’s true no matter how old they are! It can be such a bittersweet journey.

For mamas who are feeling disappointment in their motherhood journey

Letting go of the expectations of motherhood and embracing the unexpected
Life doesn’t usually turn out how we expect, including motherhood. We have to feel the loss of our expectations and then continue moving forward. And sometimes we can find the unexpected is even better!

Just walk one more day
We can feel the hurt of disappointment sometimes and throw spiritual tantrums just like a child who doesn’t get her way. But, God is ever and always faithful!

For all mamas!

A parent’s prayer — FREE printable!
This parent’s prayer is a great reminder of our job and responsibility as moms. What better way to work on the mom we want to be than by approaching parenthood with God?

Being a Mary and a Martha kind of mom

What the story of two sisters in the Bible taught me about motherhood

This post first ran back on Feb. 5, 2015 on my former blog. While some things have changed — like the age and some of the needs of my children — everything else remains quite the same. In fact, God brought this post to my mind earlier this week as a reminder to not be so busy in doing things for my family that I forget to just be with my family.

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard sermons or Bible studies or read devotions on the Mary and Martha story in the Bible. Probably more than I can count. But as God is known to do, sometimes He knocks me over the head about something in a new way and that happened last week. 

I read a devotion about Mary and Martha — you know, the story in Luke 10:38-42 where Jesus goes to visit the two sisters and Mary sits at His feet listening to Him talk while Martha stays busy getting everything in the house ready. When Martha asks Him to reprimand her sister for not helping, Jesus lovingly turns the tables on her and gently reminds her that Mary is doing the right thing. What He wanted and what she needed was to just listen to Him.

This passage has long reminded me to not be so busy doing things that I miss out on just being with and listening to God. But for the first time last week, it spoke directly to my mother’s heart. Zing! Right where I needed to hear it. 

I am the kind of person who thrives on a to-do list. Thrives! I feel most accomplished when I can look back at my day and see how I marked off item after item. On down times, I get antsy if I don’t get things done. I like a mix of being productive and resting when it comes to my downtime. I have a to-do list for every day. And, of course, with two small children there is always lots to be done: cleaning, cooking, laundering, bathing, diapering and on and on the list goes.

I have been feeling quite proud of myself lately for all I’ve been doing. As my son has gotten older and less clingy and more happy and able to play with his big sister, I have gotten a chance to get things done again. I have also felt well enough these last few weeks to do things. 

So I was feeling proud that I’ve been organizing my house in pockets here and there and marking things off my to-do list and keeping up with laundry and making healthy food for my family and on I could go. But you may also know what the Bible also says about pride going before a fall.

Just like that God smacked me over the head and pointed out to me that I needed to make sure I wasn’t only being a Martha to my children (doing all the tasks that surround caring for them), but that I was also being a Mary to my children (stopping to listen to and play with them). Ouch! It’s not that doing my kids’ laundry or making their lunch or cleaning our house are bad or wrong in any way. Certainly those things need to be done. If I don’t do them things get crazy! 

However, God reminded me that I need to stop doing sometimes and just be with my kiddos. Of course I play with them. Of course I interact with them, but how often do I just sit down with them one-on-one and say, “Let’s do whatever you want to do for the next half hour?” Not all that often. 

More often than I’d like to admit, when I play with them I feel antsy to be able to move on to my next task or I think about all that isn’t getting done or I even just think how much I wish I could be doing something else for myself. And many times, I’m half playing and half keeping an eye on the time so that we don’t get off our precious schedule.

The games a preschooler and toddler come up with aren’t always intriguing and fun to me. How many times can I make a Ninja Turtle on a motorcycle run into Batman on a motorcycle before I start to want to pull out my hair?  But isn’t God patient with us? Aren’t I supposed to model my life after Him? He sees me wandering around making a mess of things or doing the same tedious, ridiculous things over and over. 

Fortunately He doesn’t think like I sometimes do and get impatient with my childish ways. Sometimes I think He finds delight in the little things that delight me. Because when I really just let myself and my agenda go and am present in playing with my children with my mind and body, then I am happy to make a Ninja Turtle on a motorcycle crash into Batman on a motorcycle over and over again because I see the joy it brings my son. He is delighted, so I am delighted.

Today I will make progress on my to-do list. I will get laundry done. I will make dinner. I will make sure that the big kid gets to and from preschool on time. I will be a Martha managing my household and family. But I will also work to be a Mary and make sure that I stop to just sit and play with my children. 

I have learned this in my spiritual life (though I am FAR from perfect!). I make time to stop and hang out with God in the mornings (unless my kids are sick and up all hours then I find Him in other ways throughout the day). I need that time with my Father. My kids need that time with their mother. 

I will work to find the best balance I can between Martha and Mary. Some days I may be more one than the other in the natural ebb and flow of life, but I will plod forward doing my best.

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