It’s easy to feel like we have to do it all. But the truth is, we don’t. Read on for the encouragement to do small things with great love.
Wrestling a toddler into his diaper is the worst time to consider one’s current status. And yet there I was, attempting to stave off my son’s third Huggie death roll, staring darkly out the window at the hydrangeas below. I was done. Done with the diapering. Done with the nagging. Done with the unmade beds, the cluttered countertops, the constant wave of stuff threatening to overtake my home. I was having an existential crisis. And I needed a nap.
There are some mothers who can make these moments transformative, offering it up for the poor souls in Purgatory or meditating on Mary’s Fiat. And I will say that on occasion I have been one of those. But on that day, after a well-placed kick to the nose filled my vision with stars instead of hydrangeas? Nope. No more.
And therein lies the rub. My pride and my selfishness, not my mother’s heart, had become my master. But no matter how tired, frustrated, or annoyed I become, I remain a servant of love by virtue of my motherhood. To loosely paraphrase Mother Teresa, I perform the duties before me not because they must be done, not because I am told to do them, but because I love the people these duties will benefit. Though I may find myself denying this vocation to the core, it remains within me; when the load is heavy, I am blessed to carry it as a glorious cross.
Those are the days when I look at the mess, the fifteen loads of laundry, the lovingly prepared but completely refused food on a plate and say, “I didn’t sign up for this.” And it might take every fiber in my being not to remove the head of the next person who says, “I don’t know how you do it.” Because friend, the feeling is mutual: I don’t know how I do it, either.
If you want the truth, I don’t do it.
I don’t dust. I don’t clean my fridge as often as I should (or, ahem, ever). I don’t put away laundry the same day it comes out of the dryer. I don’t make everything from scratch. I don’t forbid screen time. I don’t read to my kids every day.
But there’s a lot I do: I love and protect my children. I bathe them, clothe them, feed them, and teach them. I take time to write; I take time to work. I spend time with friends; I spend time with Jesus in the Mass. I love my husband and my family. I love God and hope for eternity with him.
These are the small things that matter. Everything else is bonus points. And while I’d love to earn some of those on occasion (because who doesn’t love a bonus?), I can’t sacrifice my own or my family’s happiness at the altar of selfishness.
So I will continue to serve even when it is difficult. I will do these small things with great love.
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