By Anjanette Barr, Contributing Writer
I could alternately have titled this post, “Housekeeping and Intentional Parenting: How I Stink at Both.”
I have over a decade of independent living under my belt and I am still regularly stunned by how difficult it is to just live day by day in these roles of wife and mother.
Oh, God has brought me a LONG way up the road from where I began. I know how to keep my head up and do the next thing. I try to both challenge myself to improve, and give myself grace to just BE sometimes. But with a move across the country and adjusting to life as a family of 5 instead of 4, I’ve been doing a lot more of giving myself grace than challenging myself.
Like letting the kids watch “just one more episode” of Dora… three times. And like letting 5 loads of clean laundry languish in a corner of the living room waiting to be folded… for a week.
It wouldn’t be difficult to think up more examples. It has become obvious that something has to give.
While I was pregnant with Cora (my darling pictured above – now age 3), I read an article titled, “Homemaking Internship” that left me terrified of having a little girl.
The author laments how few of us have had any practical training in keeping house, parenting, etc. and how important it is that we as mothers intentionally teach our children the life skills they will need someday – almost as if they were our little homemaking “interns.”
Homemaking is a career that demands considerable expertise, may encompass decades of our lives, and has the potential to spread the gospel to our families, churches, communities, and future generations. Now that’s a career worth preparing for, wouldn’t you say?
As much as the article frightened me (I was the epitome of the unprepared homemaker!), it rang so true that I printed it out and tucked it into Cora’s baby book with a note of apology for how I would inevitably have a difficult time keeping this goal, but I was committed to try.
I know she’s only 3, but recently I’ve been convicted that I have been failing her by avoiding pouring into her life the way I do with my boys because having a girl is still just plain scary! In order to parent her intentionally and really invest in her the way I should, I have to face this “housekeeping giant” head on.
Leading by Example
I want my children to live excellent lives. I don’t want them to be like me when they grow up! I want them to be like Christ! Unfortunately, my children will look to me, Christ’s follower, to know what Christ is like.
The apostle Paul has always kind of gotten on my nerves! (This is not a tangent – bear with me!) First he tells us all about how he cannot do the things he wants to do and does the things he doesn’t want to do (Romans 7:15), and how he’s the worst of all sinners (1 Timothy 1:15), and then over and over again he tells the churches he is writing to to follow him, to use him as their example, become like him. Presumptous much?
Here’s the thing I think Paul understood: for better or worse, we look to human examples for instructions on daily living. Without those in-the-flesh mentors and heroes, we have the tendency to see the ideals and principles of Scripture as unattainable. God understands that we need examples of flesh and blood. And , like it or not, He’s given us as examples to our children.
It is my responsibility to improve my housekeeping skills as an extension of my parenting for the sake of intentionally leading my children into preparedness for life as an adult. If I want my children to live excellent lives, then I need to live excellently.
Children know without being told that their parents aren’t perfect. I remember vividly feeling like I saw faults in my parents that they were somehow blind to, or felt the need to deny so that they could maintain authority.
There’s no way I am going to be able to hide from my children that I am inept at maintaining order in my home. And you know what? That’s ok! Good, even! I don’t have to pretend.
I believe that seeing me struggle through this area of my life – which seems so trivial and looms so large all at once – will give them confidence in God’s ability to change us, and courage to see challenges through to the end.
And I believe they will be better at housekeeping than I am, too. 🙂
Our pesky friend Paul really was a wise man. Follow me, he says:
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14