Once upon a time, I was pregnant for what must have been decades. The first two were less than two years apart, and then we gave it a little time but still managed to spend a year with three kids under five.
Three kids under five might not seem like a lot, but it’s enough to have people stare at you in the grocery store, to raise a ruckus in the fast food line, and to require enough heavy equipment (strollers, car seats, high chairs, cribs) to practically open your own daycare.
They were so cute. I was so tired.
I’ve always been one who loves to be good at things, but mothering wasn’t like that. Mothering was one moment great, next moment terrible. Mothering was triumph over breakfast and tragedy by lunch. Mothering was a relentless barrage of needs, chores, and groundhog days of diapers, laundry, play dates and Baby Einstein.
They were so needy. I was so bad at it.
I remember taking the kids on a walk–double stroller and baby backpack–to try and find a framework to hang my life on, something that would make the mundane days and long nights make sense. It’s like I need a life mission statement to survive the season–because as a young mom, I had given up dreaming of a different season. I was too tired to imagine a different season. I had hazy dreams of kids that tie their own shoes and sleep through the night, but it seemed so. far. away.
Back in the days were we still used phones for verbal conversations, I remember calling my sister-in-law and her mentioning Flylady. She kept talking about this Flylady like she was a friend, which seemed like a super-weird nickname for someone. As it turns out, Flylady was my sister-in-law’s life coach–in the form of a vintage-y looking website and yahoo list that advocated cleaning schedules, peaceful living and the joy of running a home.
I checked her out myself, and realized that it was possible to actually live intentionally when my whole life felt like it was run by tiny dictators. It was possible to just do one thing each day that brought order and peace to the chaos. Flylady was huge on cleaning the kitchen sink every night, no matter how messy the rest of the house or your life looks. Here’s what Flylady has to say about shining the sink:
I want you to have a sense of accomplishment! You have struggled for years with a cluttered home and you are so beaten down. I just want to put a smile on your face. When you get up the next morning, your sink will greet you, and a smile will come across your lovely face. I can’t be there to give you a big hug, but I know how good it feels to see yourself in your kitchen sink. So each morning, this is my gift to you. Even though I can’t be there to pat you on the back, I want you to know that I am very proud of you.
Go shine your sink!
So I began to shine my sink. And put on my shoes in the morning. And use a feather duster. And do 5 minute cleanups.
And it worked. It was one intentional choice that lead to other choices that lead to a new attitude. It was a choice for progress. It was a choice that says, “I can do this.”
Life looks different now. The kids are older and require much different attention–now we fight for their hearts while we drive carpools and negotiate screen time and navigate friendships. But this is also a season where doing that one thing–where making one intentional choice each day matters again. For me, it’s shining the sink, or exercising, and reading my Bible. It’s deciding that even when storms swirl around me and within me, I can do that one thing, I can make that one intentional choice in the way I live, the choice that leads to other choices that lead to a new attitude. It starts with that one thing.
What’s your one thing? Let’s encourage one another that we can do this, whatever “this” may be!
PS. Every week, I co-host a 15 minute conversation on faith and life with David Dwight, senior pastor of Hope. This week, we share straight talk about the concept of “having a soul.” Check it out!
PSS. If you are in the Richmond area, I’m teaching a class on How to Study the Bible, at Hope Church Aug 16-18. It’s like a three day mini boot camp for your soul! If you are looking for your bible reading to be your one thing, this is a great way to kick it off. Find out more here!