Once or twice a year I clean my children’s closet and exchange last season’s clothes for the next. The event takes days of mental preparation as I work up enough gumption to tackle the project. There are clothes spilling onto the floor, shirts hanging cock-eyed on hangars with the sleeves tucked inside, lonely socks with no mates dangling from the basket, and towels—discarded and starting to smell musty—are piling up. (Can we just take a moment of silence for the only-used-once-and-begging-to-be-used-again towels layering the closet floor?!) I don’t understand how their closet gets so out of control in a flash. It makes my blood pressure rise at a proportionate rate.
Admittedly, I make sure my kids know how annoyed I am at the time I’m wasting to clean their closet, sorting through clothes and reorganizing the underwear basket for the twentieth time this year. I used up my time and exhausted energy on something that will just get messed up again. Frustrated by the lack of praise (and help) I received from my kids, I mumble to myself, that was a waste of an afternoon.
Did it have to end that way?
Neatly organized hangers replaced the disheveled pile on the floor. Two sizes of clothes were removed and boxed up for donation. The toys were in their place and I could see the floor once again. I inventoried the socks and returned at least 1500 Lego pieces to the correct bin on the shelf. I was visibly irritated knowing soon the closet would look no different than it did before I wasted an afternoon tending to it.
Do you ever feel that way about being a mother? I feel like I waste my words on children who continue to disobey. The wisdom I share falls on deaf ears, and I’ve exhausted all the consequences I can think of on recurring negative behavior. What a waste.
This is the way of motherhood. We deplete our hearts, our time, and our energy on unfinished people— children whose frontal lobe is far from ready for the responsibilities of an adult. Gratefulness and appreciation are not innate attitudes, and they haven’t enough years to have acquired them. We get eye rolling and deep sighing instead. And they do it while we waste everything we have on them.
But wait. Is it a waste? Moms, this job we do is not a waste. It’s a pouring out. The posture of our heart changes everything. Pouring out is the maternal personification of John 15:13, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” A life offered, laid down, poured out. Not wasted.
What if I had chosen to pray for the tiny extensions of my heart while organizing the mess, despite the fact I will do it over and over? What if I had taken the opportunity to teach them about giving as we prepared our items for donation? What if I shared God’s love with my kids about how he cleans up the messy parts of our life just like I was doing with their mess? What if I had lived out Colossians 3:23, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” What if the perfect closet reflected a heart poured out—rather than an afternoon wasted?
What’s your perspective on motherhood? Do you see it as wasting your life or pouring it out?
Jesus sees your weary heart, mom. He poured out His love for you. He didn’t waste it.
About Kim Heinecke
Kim Heinecke wants to live in a world where children listen to the advice of their mothers without question. As a former single mom she’s been encouraging women using her life experiences in parenting, growing in the Word of God and everything in between. When she’s not negotiating with a teenager or wrestling a pre-schooler, you can find her camping in the family RV or pretending to understand sports with her husband and four sons. Read more from Kim at www.TheMomExperiment.com.