Life’s Plain, Common Work
The best things in life are nearest:
Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes,
flowers at your feet, duties at your hand,
the path of right just before you.
Then do not grasp at the stars,
but do life’s plain, common work as it comes,
certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.
~Robert Louis Stevenson
I love that we women all have so many choices in our life’s path, but have you ever either questioned yourself, or been questioned by others for choosing the ordinary?
In the past 15 years I’ve heard, “I just don’t feel fulfilled at home.” Or, “Don’t you go crazy all day at home with the kids?” or “I was so bored and lonely, I couldn’t wait to go back to the office.” Or, “Don’t you feel trapped?” Or, “I could never be home with my kids all day, I’d go bonkers!”
I try to always answer those questions honestly and kindly, of course. I know that everyone has their own experiences that lead them to make different decisions, but here is what I think.
Yes, being at home with the kids is sometimes boring. Some days I feel trapped for sure – I can’t just get up and leave on a whim anytime I want and usually I have to plan intricately when I do, around everyone else’s schedule. I’ve found there is no calling in sick on this job and no scheduled breaks, at least that I can count on. I’m lucky if I get any vacation days at all.
It is sometimes lonely. I can go all day without hearing from anyone over the age of 2, or 6, or 15, and just because I am never alone, doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes feel lonely.
It doesn’t always feel “fulfilling” to me. I guess the truth is, I never think, “Am I feeling fulfilled?” Do I feel like I’m using all my talents and gifts? Sort of. I’ve warped them into what I need them to be. However, I think I’ve acquired lots more talents and gifts along this motherhood road by pure necessity. I think I’ve discovered what I’ve needed to do to feel like I’ve accomplished something everyday, and to get out and socialize (or not!), and to get a little bit of freedom once in awhile so I don’t go bonkers.
I wish I could say, “I couldn’t think of anything else I’d rather do!” when it comes to being a typical housewife. When cuddling a sweet little infant that statement would be true. When admiring a clean sparkly house (even knowing it will only last for a few minutes), I definitely feel that. When everyone is getting along great, and it’s been a great, easy day, of course. But other times, when I look at some of my duties for the week (meal fixing, floor scrubbing, bottom wiping, schedule finagling, clothes washing) I’d be able to dream up a bunch of “others” in a heart beat.
But if I say, “I couldn’t think of anything else I should be doing!” right now with the family size I have and the ages of my children, I’d be speaking the truth. “The path of right before you…certain that daily duties…are the sweetest things in life.”
I don’t think our lives as moms are supposed to be easy and fun and exciting and “fulfilling” every day. If so, I’m doing something wrong! I don’t think I have something special or different, some incredible talents or gifts, some Barney-esque personality that has turned me into ‘mom’. I think every mom has talents that lend themselves to making great mothers. We just have to tap into them; they exist somewhere inside of us. We have to trust that this long road, this “plain and common work” will be more rewarding to us than any other job on earth.
So far, 15 years into it, I can tell you that I already find this to be so true.
QUESTION: How do you find joy in your daily walk as a mother?
CHALLENGE: Try to find joy, today, in something you do as a mom.
Photo by billykaren519 at www.Flickr.com
Holly Hamilton-Bleakley says
Submitted on 3-30-2010 at 02:52pm
I enjoyed this article for it’s honesty and also for it’s confidence in the importance of mothering. It took me a long time to find my confidence as a mother. I don’t have a typical ‘mothering’ personality, despite having six children! But I love the idea that we all have different resources and talents within us that we conform to fit our role as mothers. I also agree that it’s important to admit that mothering doesn’t always feel 100% great and happy all the time. What stays with me 100% of the time, however, is that rock-solid understanding that what I am doing matters, and that no one else can do it for my children.
April Perry says
22.214.171.124 Submitted on 3-29-2010 at 11:33pm
Thanks so much for this message! No matter how many times I am reminded that my work with my children matters, I still need to hear it again. Today we had so many squabbles and disasters and crazy moments, and I thought, “If I didn’t know how important this work is, I would be so tempted to just get someone else to do it.” But I know that the ordinary work is so full of deeply meaningful moments. Thanks for sharing with our website!