Finding Joy in the Mundane
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I have four children. I know families who have more, so to me, four doesn’t seem like a lot. But when we go out in public, I always get “looks”. Some are disapproving, some are just amused. At the grocery store is always the best, though, because we are shopping in the middle of the school day, so the girls always get the question “Shouldn’t you be in school?” Usually, it is older women who give me smiles and relate their own experience with motherhood – “I remember those days. They go so fast. Enjoy!” or “I used to wait for my husband to come home so I could shop because I just needed a little quiet!” My favorite was the woman who patiently waited as we trooped around the end corner of an aisle, smiled at us, told me that my family was beautiful, my children were so well-behaved and that she had raised 6, and they had all been teenagers at once. And then she said, “They all moved out, one right after the other, and now my house is too quiet.” That statement got me thinking about the time of life in which I currently find myself.

Right now, I have 2 elementary-aged daughters, a 3-year-old son, and a daughter who is just shy of her second birthday. Right now my days are filled with repetitive corrections to clean up, stop fighting, don’t stand on the furniture please, close the door please, don’t leave your empty yogurt container on the table/counter/chair, don’t leave your dirty clothes on the floor, and so on. Right now, no matter what mess I clean up, when I turn around, there are at least 2 more yet to take care of. My son still struggles with dressing himself; my youngest is into everything. My older daughters are helpful, but sometimes having them “help” actually makes more work for me, especially when they try to help without first learning the proper way to accomplish something, like when my 6-year-old wanted to wash the window on our patio door and used the dirty kitchen cloth to do it, after first carrying the cloth, dripping dirty water all across the kitchen floor.

It is times like those that I want to moan and complain. Complain that I have to do everything. Complain that no one understands how hard it is to have 4 kids at home. Complain that I don’t have time to myself. Complain that I never get 15 minutes for myself or that no matter what I do, the kids always undo it. Don’t they care how hard I work to get the floors cleaned? Don’t they care that I spent 20 minutes folding their laundry, just so they can shove it in the drawer? Don’t they care how much work went into planning their dinner, only for them to turn up their noses? When those complaints start to surface in my head, I try to remember 2 things.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 says “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” There are MANY people out there who are or have been in the place where I am now. Some probably handle the trials better. Some may have struggled with different aspects of motherhood. And no two journeys are EXACTLY the same, but I am reassured by the simple fact that I am not alone in this. Even though I might not know them, there are others out there who know what it is like to deal with having to get up and function and accomplish daily life with 3 or 4 hours of sleep. Other women have had days where the excessive silliness of their children has set their teeth on edge, and have had the thought “If I hear them jump from their bunk ladder one more time, I am going to lose my mind!” There are other moms who have also asked their child to “Please take this dirty diaper and throw it in the hamper.” They MEAN the trash, but their minds are so fried from too many sleepless nights that they don’t realize what they said, and then their obedient child wrinkles their brow but obeys, to the letter. And then they do the laundry….and wash that dirty diaper. And then they cry because their washer and that load of laundry is covered in diaper gel. (I have since learned to ask “What did I say?” when my daughter gives me THE LOOK because it usually means that what I said didn’t make logical sense.)

The other thing that comes to mind is James 1:2-3. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” Count it ALL JOY. I know, at the time of his writing, James was not speaking to homeschool moms. The trials he was speaking of were far worse than what I go through. But I take encouragement from these words, and here is why. The things I count as joy far outnumber the things I count as trials. My children are happy. My children are obedient. They are learning to have servant's hearts. They WANT to help me. They WANT to learn to do things. They love each other. They are willing to accept correction. They are learning to be self-motivated, and are happy to do it.

So when I have to show my daughter how to properly clean a window, I count it as joy that she WANTS to do it. I count it as joy that our dinner took extra-long to prepare because I had 3 children who all wanted to be involved in the preparation, so I had to teach them and delegate tasks. When I came down with a 24-hour stomach bug this past winter, I was able to get a full day of rest because my 8-year-old daughter was capable enough to get breakfast and lunch for her siblings and herself, and also responsible enough to keep them all occupied and playing all day. She was also thoughtful enough to periodically check on me to see if I needed anything, as well as bring me toast and ginger ale. Those attempts that my children make to be helpful I count as joy because I know that if they weren’t making those attempts, it would mean that I wasn’t teaching them to care for others and to take responsibility upon themselves.

These are the two things that I try to remind myself of when we have a hard homeschool day. Some days it MIGHT be easier for me if I only had the younger two to take care of while the older two were at school all day. But then I would be missing out on being able to teach them all these things, as well as being able to actively live my faith daily, and learning steadfastness. I didn’t choose to homeschool because I thought it would be the easier choice. I chose it because it was the right choice for us. We use BJU Press Distance Learning Online, and I am able to use it as a tool to continue these lessons with my children while educating them with biblically-integrated curriculum. I do not have to worry about the content. I do not have to stress out trying to plan lessons and make sure we are getting all our “days” in. I do not have to worry that I am not teaching to my child’s learning style. DLO covers multiple learning styles, so my tactile, visual learner can get a hands-on experience working out math problems. My auditory learner can hear the spelling words spelled out and commit that to memory for later recall.

I do not sit with them as they complete their schooling. I extend to them the responsibility for completing their work without me telling them what to do. For my 1st grader, I pull all her pages for her ahead of time and put them in a folder. She knows what she is expected to complete because I taught her to read the assignment list in the DLO program. My 3rd grader has graduated to being completely responsible for pulling all assigned pages, including tests. She brings me completed pages and tests (along with the answer key) for me to grade. They are thriving in their education, and I am proud to see them learning independence, and starting to apply that skill to other areas of life. If we had not chosen to use BJU Press Distance Learning Online, I don’t know that we would have had this much success, this quickly, learning these life lessons.

I know that one day the exhausting, repetitive tasks that come with this stage of life will come to an end, and so I continue striving to take joy in my mundane tasks, and with the hope that my children will continue to grow in skills, grow in faith, and grow in the knowledge that they are learning now, in these important, formative years that I have the joy and privilege of spending with them!

Meet the Author

Abigail Knott - HomeWorks by Precept Consultant


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