By: Sarah Oates-Walker
“Mommy, play with me!” I was all ready to get some cleaning done, but how could I say “no” to that adorable request? Then, at the end of the day, my daughter turned to me with a look of disgust and said, “It is REALLY dirty in here – you NEED to clean it!” You can’t win!
I have read several blogs lately that talk about how having a messy house means that you are a good mom:
“Sometimes it comes down between cleaning the house, and taking Tristan and Norah to the park. Or spending time having fun with them, or teaching them to read or write. Sometimes I can either do the dishes, or teach our son how to ride a bike, or our daughter how to walk. I’d rather do those things, frankly. I’d rather not be that mom who ignores our kids, and myself, because I’m so busy worrying about what the neighbors might think of our messy house.”- Mel Edwards “No Idea What I’m doing: A Daddy Blog”
As I read these blogs, I feel relief! My house is usually not as clean and tidy as I would like it to be, but when it is “messy,” it is usually because I am spending most of the day playing with my children. As I read these words from fellow parents, saying that a messy house is OK if it is because you are spending your day enjoying your children, I take a deep sigh and say, “Good, my excuses are valid!”
In my devotional and prayer time, I have been reading Proverbs 31 – “The Characteristics of a Noble Wife” – and asking God to make me into a Proverbs 31 woman:
“She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
‘Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.’
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” ~ Proverbs 31: 25-30
This woman is smart, wise, strong, confident and admired by her family. However, as I read through verses 13-24, God started to convict my heart. This woman, that I admire so much, is hardworking and provides for her family in EVERY way!
“…(she) works with eager hands.”
“She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.”
“…her lamp does not go out at night”.
I am a stay-at-home mom, awake by 6am, and not in bed until after 10pm. There are many days that I justify not taking the time to keep my house clean and tidy. And to be fair, it is extremely hard to keep a tidy house when you have toddlers running around! I could spend all day cleaning, just to have them walk through a room, and five minutes later you would swear that I had done nothing at all!
It is easy to throw my hands up in surrender and say, “Why bother?!” But, if I am diligent with my 16 waking hours, I can do my work and spend quality time with my family each day. I don’t have to choose one or the other. It is so easy to spend all of our time neglecting our responsibilities, and it can be just as easy to work too much and miss out on quality time with the kids. The important thing is that we find a balance between the two!
As I arose to the challenge that God placed in my heart to keep a cleaner house, I noticed a few things. I felt more relaxed and happier in my home; my husband noticed my hard work and was appreciative; there was a new sense of peace that came with not having to pick up and tip-toe around our daily messes. I am now doing my best to set the example for my children that although there is a time to play and have fun, it is also important to work hard to take care of the things God has blessed us with, and to serve others. I don’t want to do laundry, clean or do a million others things; but I do it out of love, to serve my family.
“And it is not fair to you, because you really can’t have fun or relax in a room that’s such a terrible mess.” Papa Bear, “The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room”