The other night I was running around like my hair was on fire. It was the night before our kids went back to school and our baby went back to daycare after three weeks off for Christmas break. I was consumed with the monumental task of getting our family ready for the new week. Putting away laundry, getting clean sheets on the beds, packing lunches, finding library books. It had been three weeks since we had any sort of routine, so there was no telling where anything was.
In the frantic chaos, I turned to my husband and proudly announced that all four beds had clean sheets on them at the same time. All of them! This is no small feat. Usually one or two beds will have clean sheets at any given time, but with three small children, everyone simultaneously having clean sheets is a miracle.
I was feeling pretty proud of myself, but I wasn’t totally prepared for what my husband shared with me. He’s been reading a book about finding God in the chaos of life with young kids, and he shared with me about how what I do is actually holy work. The lunches and the dirty towels and the clean sheets… it’s all part of the holy work of raising children. There is sanctification in our day-to-day routine.
And that stopped me in my tracks.
I have a full-time corporate job, I have a full-time photography business, and I’m a mama to three beautiful little souls. If you’re doing the math, that’s at least three full-time jobs. Needless to say, I am tired. My jobs leave me mentally, physically, and emotionally depleted. But this day-in, day-out routine of shepherding my kids, and creating routines, and getting us through the—it’s not drudgery or monotony. It’s holy.
Raising small children involves a lot of repetition. A lot. Someone asked my husband what it was like to have three kids, and his response was so spot on: “Man… it’s the same thing. Every single day.” That routine and repetition can make our days feel small, meaningless, and thankless. But it’s those very repetitive tasks and mundane chores that form the incredibly holy and blessed work of raising our kids.
It’s easy to look at a missionary and understand their sacrifice and how they serve, but it’s a lot harder when we examine our own suburban, typical, normal lives. I think we would all feel a lot more fulfilled if we realized the gravity of the work we do every day.
Sometimes serving means serving well right where we are planted.
God calls us to be moms. He calls us to the ordinary and the routine and the chores, because those things are all part of raising tiny souls who love Him and know Him and choose Him. Our babies will grow up and do amazing things, but we have to help them get to those adult years first. And that process is messy. Sometimes it’s loud, sometimes it’s repetitive, sometimes it’s pure chaos. And in the middle of all the loud, repetitive chaos are the hearts of our kids, looking to us for truth.
Motherhood doesn’t come without it’s (unfair) share of struggles. More and more of us struggle with depression, anxiety, and other challenges. It’s easy to feel forgotten and lost under the pile of everything being a Mom requires. But God has not forsaken us. He chose us. He called us to this messy work.
In Isaiah 66:13, God compares His own love for us to that of the love of a mother: “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you.” Think of all the times you pick up the broken pieces, sweep away the mess, kiss a bandaged knee. You are the embodiment of God’s love in those daily, routine moments.
Being a mom is hard. It will always be a difficult, messy, repetitive calling. That’s the nature of mothering. But being a mom is also unmistakably holy. All those baskets of laundry and dirty dishes and school forms and crumbs on the table—it’s all part of the holiness. We lose sight of the sanctity of our daily routines in the frantic pace of our days. But when we slow down and acknowledge what we are really doing, the lives we are shaping and the souls we are shepherding, we can see the holiness of mothering shining through the mess of it all.