08 January 2008

Working as for the Lord

In my recent past I was a working mother. I was never anything terribly impressive but I pinned up my hair and clicked off to work nearly every morning, leaving the babies in the care of women with good hearts and unbrushed teeth. For yea those many long years I was sick in my heart about leaving my children for who could love them better than I? Who could better shelter them from the evils of Spongebob and processed cheese? Who could better clean them, tuck them in, brainwash them, etc., etc., etc.?

And for yea those many long years I pined for the time when it would all end; when I could trade in my heels for slippers and gather my children around me in a happy, wholesome, loving little bubble of family.

Now I’m here, surrounded by my children with no job to which I might escape. I’ve been here for about six months or so and I have a question for you: What was I thinking?

I daresay I fell victim to the classic blunder: Romanticism. I was gone so much and so completely that I didn’t know my children very well, neither did I know myself, and I imagined them to be something quite different than what they are. In the working world, surrounded by people who wanted little more from me than fingers on a keyboard and platitudes in the boardroom, life was easy. Stressful? OK. Trying? Yes. But really, fundamentally, thoroughly easy. Because those people didn’t own my heart, drain my body, try my senses, test my limits, or pull my hair.

These people, these children, these evil, sinful, wretched little creatures of my own creation do.

Those office people? They would often verbalize appreciation for something I had done. And they were grownups with whom I might have conversations about something, ANYTHING. And my work was tangible, my paycheck satisfying, my comings home pleasant—the babies were glad to see me and I was happy to play at their games for the 1.5 hours prior to bedtime.

Now? The dishes are never done. The laundry is never done. The diapers are never done. They nursing is never done. There is never enough time. My cooking is never complimented. My questions are never answered. I cannot complete a single thought. I do not have time to read. The house itself leers at me like my demon spawn wanting more and more and never getting enough. I never look pretty. I am cr@pped upon, spit at, slapped, screamed at, and pushed. All this before my husband gets home to find me wild eyed and engaged in mortal combat with the fruit of his loom. And his children. Let the reader understand.

Thanks be to God, the having of the children is easy enough for us. Taking care of them, teaching them, raising them up in the way that they should go . . . that part bites.* Some mornings I dare look in the mirror and when I catch my own eye that other face smirks and says, “You wanted all this and you got it. You’re freakishly disappointed in who your children are and in your constant, dangerous, consequential failure to be a good mother. You’re lonely, cold, and dreadfully unhappy. And you’re not going to use birth control to stop all this? If you keep having more, you need to go back to work. If not, do you really think you can handle it?”

The only answer I have for myself thus far is this: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Col. 3: 23-23). And, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ . . . doing the will of God from your heart . . . because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does . . . and masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him (Eph. 6: 5-9). And, “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked” (Psalm 84:10).

I think I may actually be a toilet scrubber or shoe licker (DV), but that’s beside the point. My enemy myself scoffs at this my life every chance she gets, and the weak Romantic myself hangs her head in defeat, and the chorus of selfish myselfs sing out their desires and plans and all that stands between them and this my life, these my children is the conviction that these sinful wretches are baptized unto life everlasting and that indeed it is better to be spit upon by an eternal creature of the living God than to type 10,000 clever things that pass away with the season.

Come quickly Lord Jesus, and reveal your kingdom to us all.

*And it bites whether you work outside the home or in, eh? But when you’re outside you get coffee breaks, right? That’s all I’m saying.


Rebekah said...

I always contracted a serious case of road rage on my commute home during the brief interval in the life of our oldest when I went to the office one day a week for six hours. But I was leaving her with dad, she was old enough that it didn't disrupt our nursing, and I liked my long afternoon away.

I suspected that, excluding those strange creatures I poked at a few days ago who seem to actually like children, attachment parenting only works for mothers who leave for work every morning. I'd be glad to sleep with my kid if she hadn't already been in direct contact with me all day long.

My strategy is just to mostly ignore them all day. I have a few bottom line things (a quantifiable amount of reading, piano with 5 yr old, slightly more advanced project for older kids during naptime in which I may or may not be actively involved), but there's a reason I didn't major in early childhood and I am not the activities coordinator for a day care here. My official title is Minister of the Interior, and by golly if the Interior isn't a disaster anyway. Why? Because I'm lazy. Sad to say.

And we're not looking at four years of Peter Rabbit EVERY NIGHT. It could be fifteen.

To top it all off, I just fed a -10 day old baby a diet Dr Pepper and half a bag of gummy bears. How well I can envision my eternity: ironing the white robes of those blessed homeschoolers.

Reb. Mary said...

Coffee break? Most days I'd settle for a bathroom break.

I miss clicking. I don't even wear clicky shoes to church anymore, as they make exits and re-entries less discreet. Not that I was ever much of a glam girl, but it's nice to click every now and again.

I was able to be at home full time immediately following the birth of Baby One 3.5 yrs ago. Believe it or not, I used to wish I had had to work for awhile after the babies came, to make me more grateful to be at home. But I'm pretty sure it would just have made me angrier.

Speaking of anger, I do recall days of far greater desperation early on in my domestic slave-goddess career. Not that those days don't still occur, particularly when one lives in the middle of nowhere and the windchill is below zero, but it really does get better, I think.

Gauntlets said...

Aw, you guys are great.

I guess there comes a day when we all have to grow up and face the music. Right now my music is the sound of my girl-child singing, "Oh I wish I had a pegicorn! Ever since the day when I was born! Beautiful pegicorn!" This harmonizes really nicely with those inner voices that shout, "Run! Hide! Run! Hide!" which harmonizes really nicely with the sounds of the baby gagging on a paper clip.

This is the best life ever.

Hey, when are we going to have a CSPP convention? Don't we need to think tank or something? Come up with topics for 2008? Something? Guys? Guys?

Reb. Mary said...

Should I know what a pegicorn is? Or is it as imaginary as it sounds?

Convention: Absolutely. Something we can get tax write-offs for, even. Something to put on our already impressive resumes/CVs.

And upon further reflection, and thinking about the harmonization Gauntlets describes, I've realized that the days of desperation crescendo and decrecendo, like a beautiful symphony, ha ha (though no one here is singing about pegicorns), and it's likely to hit fortissimo again in March with the advent of Boy the Third. Right now I've only got 2, and though they manage to make themselves feel like more than that, neither is nursing or in the process of potty training. So it's bound to get worse again before it gets better again. Yes, a beautiful symphony, with many movements (no, not *that* kind of movements), that's the way to think of it...I think I'm on some sort of low blood sugar delirium here; better go see what i can do to remedy that.

Gauntlets said...

Oh pegicorns (pegasus-unicorns) are just great. We have one named Benny that the man-child hunts down and cooks for supper whenever he feels like tormenting his sister. I should probably teach him lovingkindness, but then who would amuse me, I'd like to know?

Convention: When? I daresay there is a time in the conceivable future when we will all three be post- or pre-pregnant. . .