We live in a culture that celebrates productivity and efficiency. We like to see results. We like to get things done. We like when we accomplish something big. It makes us feel important. At least it does for me.
But here is something I’ve learned in my first year as a mommy.
Babies don’t like to-do lists. Mommies like me do. I find great comfort in my to-do list. And I find even more in that little checkmark next to each and every item on my list. Babies? Not so much. There is always a blow-out right when I need to finish the dishes. Someone always spits-up or spills something all over my freshly washed clothes. One of my boys always seems to get sick, or have a rough nap, right around the time I sit down to read a book, write an article, or watch a show. And forget trying to make a gourmet meal. Dinner time is when they often need me the most.
There are many days where I get nothing crossed off my to-do list, unless you count doing extra loads of spit-up covered laundry as productivity.
In the very early days of mothering my little miracles I would often feel resentment rising in my heart whenever I heard one of them stir or whimper before his nap was supposed to be over. I would stew in frustration over the fact that he needed me more than I anticipated. I had big plans for my to-do list. And unfortunately, he wasn’t one of them.
I can’t remember exactly when it happened, but one day conviction hit me like a nauseating illness. And I was undone. By God’s grace, I slowly started to realize that these babies are my to-do list. For me, productivity is found in the daily care of my own flesh and blood. When I stand before God one day I will not answer for how many articles I wrote, dishes I washed, or meals I made. But I will give an account for how I loved these babes. I will give an account for how I cared for their souls.
What I tell myself every day is that these days will not last forever, and not in a pep-talk, you can get through this kind of way. Reminding myself that these days are numbered is a wake-up call to treasure the little moments that seem to get in the way of my to-do list. The tasks will always be there. These babies will not.
Obviously, I can’t forget my necessary responsibilities. There are legitimate things that need to get done. My kids do need clean clothes. And so do my husband and me! We need to eat. A clean house does make everyone feel a little more put together. But I can work against being a slave to trying to do too much. I can learn to be more flexible with the interruptions. They aren’t a death sentence to my productivity. They are God’s way of telling me to stop and savor the moments.
So as I start this Monday with a to-do list staring me square in the face I want to focus more on the little faces that so joyously greet me every morning. They won’t be here forever. And the dishes can wait.
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