January 24, 2012

the mundane tasks of life.

months ago i spoke with a friend who is a working mother.
she wanted to quit her job to become a "stay-at-home" mother.
we had many conversations about why i choose to stay at home
and what i do all day.
she said, "I'm NOT going to quit my job and stay at home so i can clean my house all day."
oh how this sentence has echoed in my mind...
it's as i've found myself apologizing for every moment i stay at home and clean.
i've pondered what "great thing" i should be doing INSTEAD of home-work.

why do i choose to stay at home?
what do i do all day?
am i making the most of the time i have been given?
am i blessing my family more by staying at home than i could if i went to work and contributed financially?
i have come to appreciate the fact that i am at home and i can clean my house all day-
if i choose to do that.
there is joy in the mundane tasks of life.
"the humdrum tasks that leave your body occupied and your mind un-fettered"
often as i work, i teach my little ones.
i carry on a running dialog with them about why i'm putting corn starch on the baby's bottom
or how i'm choosing to wash a certain dish.
sometimes leah says, "Why are you telling me this mom?"
then she laughs and says, "Oh, because i'm going to be a mother too someday?"

yes, someday my girls may be mothers. 
mothers like me who stay at home.
they might work.
they might never marry.
they may never be able to have children.
they may choose not to have children.
but whatever life offers them, one thing will be sure.
they WILL always have mundane tasks of life.
eating, cleaning, dressing, washing, bathing...  they are universal.
we can try to avoid these tasks.
we can resent the time they take.
we can learn to find peace in the doing.
i believe that often, mothers who work appreciate the mundane tasks a little bit more.
i have spoken to many who would LOVE to have an afternoon to make cookies with their kids, watch a movie and gently fold laundry.
i feel blessed to choose how i spend my hours each day.
it is a sacred stewardship.
{i LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this talk-- Forget Me Not by Elder Uchdorf}
"So many people today are waiting for their own golden ticket—the ticket that they believe holds the key to the happiness they have always dreamed about. For some, the golden ticket may be a perfect marriage; for others, a magazine-cover home or perhaps freedom from stress or worry.
There is nothing wrong with righteous yearnings—we hope and seek after things that are “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy.” The problem comes when we put our happiness on hold as we wait for some future event—our golden ticket—to appear."  Elder Uchdorf
Someday my home managment will take less of my time.
until then, i am going to EMBRACE THE EXPERIENCE.
to be grateful for the hours i have at home.
to learn while i clean.
to be slow and involve those around me.
Mundane tasks (like cooking, laundry, reading, walking the dog, bathing, straightening, etc) slow life down and help us keep balanced. These tasks are good physical indicators when we are doing too much or too little.

i LOVE this paragraph from a book i'm reading called Buddha Standard Time.
After spending over 10 years in Retreats and Indian Buddhist meditation retreats, the author returned to his life in New York City... He says,
"As I began to adjust to a Western lifestyle after so long in monastic simplicity, what struck me more than anything else was the NEW AVERSION TO THE MUNDANE TASKS OF DAILY LIFE. Thus the ubiquitous time-saving tools-- instant coffee, fast food, ATMs, microwave ovens, personal computers-- as if somehow life would be better if we could speed our way through it. That message has only escalated since then. These days, young people tell me that they don't even have time for cell-phone conversations or e-mails. They prefer to text. The instant response that new technology allows has altered our perception of time. And ironically, most of us seem to feel we have far less time as a result." p.2.

and, i love this quote...
“Some mothers in today's world feel "cumbered" by home duties and are thus attracted by other more "romantic" challenges. Such women could make the same error of perspective that Martha made. The woman, for instance, who deserts the cradle in order to help defend civilization against the barbarians may well later meet, among the barbarians, her own neglected child.”
― Neal A. Maxwell, Wherefore, Ye Must Press Forward

we all work.
some of us are at home more than others...
WHATEVER you do with you daytime hours--
i hope you take a moment to really be grateful for the ever present, repetitive tasks of life that bring you home.
i know there is joy in the mundane tasks of life.
i've learned this through MUCH experience.
and, one of the BEST things about the mundane tasks of life...
they wait for you.
so, if you do not choose to do them today-- they'll be there tomorrow!
life is good.
today, i'm grateful for dishes.
{sort of.}


CTR Mama said...


Sandra Butcher said...

You are teaching your kids exactly how my mom taught us--she would be so pleased by your approach. I love those photos! But I'm not sure what I think of the quote, "The woman, for instance, who deserts the cradle in order to help defend civilization against the barbarians may well later meet, among the barbarians, her own neglected child.” What if you are worried there is a bigger threat outside that could endanger your home/life/the world (in my case, I worry about nuclear weapons). Seems like the choice to work/not work is not quite this black and white all the time. (I do not for a minute mean by this that women should not stay at home, I did for several years.) And it also depends what role one's spouse/partner plays in child raising. Kids also learn about the need to work to create a better world as we engage them in and teach them about our work outside the home... Anyway, love you and wish I could go for a walk with you all in that beautiful countryside!! Hope the dog is cuddly and not yappy... xxx

Ruth said...

So true! I love how you write about motherhood!

jenifer said...

Aunt Sandra- i knew you would have an issue with that quote. :)
first of all, MOST who leave the home are NOT fighting nuclear weapons like you are.
secondly, there are those who WORK and those who DON'T WORK who neglect their children.
personally, i don't think you fall into the category of "deserting the cradle".

i think that quote was more about priorities than work status.
you can neglect your family in MANY ways- i believe strongly that receiving a pay check is not a sign that you have deserted your children.

just because i stay at home DOES NOT MEAN that this post is about working vs stay at home mothers. i was VERY purposeful to make it a post about tasks that are common to all of us.

saying that, i do believe with all of my heart that NO SUCCESS CAN COMPENSATE FOR FAILURE IN THE HOME. if you save the world and loose your family, you will regret your choices.

my friend who i referenced at the top of this blog did not quit her job... she is a great mother and has a wonderful family. she is also a great engineer. but, just because i am NOT earning a paycheck doesn't mean i am doing something of lesser value.

thanks for the comments- i love them.

and my dog is SO FUN. she is not yappy at all... there are some benefits to being locked in a crate for five years.

jenifer said...

ps. in the quote about neglecting children, the sentence before is a reference to Martha. if you remember in the New Testament... Martha is the one who is "cumbered about much serving." Presumably NOT working outside of the home, but cooking dinner and cleaning... while her sister is learning from Christ.

i hope this post did not seem to condemn but only to remind EVERYONE that sometimes, for all of us, the "ONE NEEDFUL THING" is to clean up, or eat a healthy meal, take a nap, take a bath... and those mundane tasks of life are essential and good and healthy.

Catherine Andrews said...

Thanks for writing this. I needed to hear this today.

Catherine from Wyoming

Theresa said...

I LOVE this! I just wrote a post today about our choice to stay at home (due to an unfortunate - or not - encounter I had). A friend suggested your blog.

Thank you for saying it just so......finding peace in the mundane because everyone has to do the mundane in life. Finding that peace and JOY will teach our littles just that: peace and joy.

Blessings to you!

Sandra Butcher said...

(Just tried to post a comment and had troubles, apologies if this appears twice).

You write: "NO SUCCESS CAN COMPENSATE FOR FAILURE IN THE HOME. if you save the world and loose your family, you will regret your choices." I agree with this 110%. The first part of what I wrote was more important to me than my comments on that quote. you are teaching your children the way my mom taught us, and you are right that there is no more important role that we have in life than teaching our children how to be parents, through example and through daily tasks, and through love. Love you! (let's hope it's posts this time!)

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