The Test of Domestic Life…And Grace

“It is terrible to find how little progress one’s philosophy and charity have made when they are brought to the test of domestic life.”

Oh my…yes. Once again C.S. Lewis hits the nail on the head. He sums up, very eloquently, the disjointed thoughts and prayers I breathed throughout this day.

Driving to the grocery store, the sky slashed blood-red, I felt the tears sting my eyes. What is it, Lord? Are my eyes not on You enough? Do I not pause soon enough to ask for help when things are tough?

Ever have one of those days that leaves you needing to be debriefed? There I sat in the car, waiting on a red light, debriefing.
I want the answer. I want Your answer. Whatever my failures earlier, I come now.

For two hours this morning, I tried to help two little boys practice forty minutes of music. They’ve been on their own most of the time lately and I noticed bad technique becoming bad habit without me reminding them constantly, “Straighten that wrist! Fingers on the tapes. Correct that note, buster!” I determined to be there this morning. I was and that is all I got done—between breaks to rescue baby, change a poopy diaper, start a load of laundry while I was on that side of the house, clean up after an overflowing toilet, feed the crying baby, and so on…

Two hours late to begin the rest of school, I felt deflated and already needing that debriefing!

Then there is always that nagging fear in the crevices of my heart that says, You are not giving each what he needs. They have so many needs.

Marc needs time. Without fail, when he is testing me (or driving me out of my mind) he just needs my time, my heart.

Will needs hugs and kisses. He needs a hand to brush his crazy hair out of his eyes, and a smile—into those blue eyes.

This morning, with Livi wailing from exhaustion and Marc gathering his school supplies to tackle his math lesson, I gave Reagan a preschool activity in the corner, on the floor. He beamed at the bright colors and numbers and looked up at me with a winsome smile, “You help me, Mama?” My heart ached to sit down beside him right then and work with him, but I had to say, Not now. I knew, and I suspect he knew, that really meant, Not at all today.

I just can’t always give what I want to give. Fear tells me I cannot give what they need me to give.

Marc Anthony was trying me today. He is an eager student and he needs routine and on days like today when all is falling apart, he sometimes tries me. We sat side by side, his reading book open, and I felt the tears coming. I fought them.
Suddenly, I was crying, telling him, “I don’t like your attitude. I can think of a lot better ways to spend my time than fighting a little boy who won’t listen and won’t learn.” Unsure, he giggled at first. Then he cried along with me, “Mama,” he squeezed my shoulder. “Please don’t cry!”
With a burst of determination, he wiped the back of his hand across his eyes and grabbed up his book. My goodness, that boy can speed read! He read with gusto and enthusiasm! And you can believe I praise him up and down when we reached the end of the lesson.

The weather was beautiful so I sent them out to play while I tried to tackle loads of laundry waiting to be folded and stacks of dishes. I kept noticing the millions of things I’d not get to today. Dust on the furniture, nastiness on windows lit by the sunshine.

There is simply no way I’ll get to it all. Right now, when I am way outnumbered by little people and my to-do list far outlasts my energy, there is just no way.

Is that ok? Is it just the way it’s going to be and so I should learn to shrug off my concerns and fears?

I’ve battled postpartum depression since Livi arrived (to be candid) and my very understanding husband, who rescues me on my worst days, reminds me that when she is no longer teething and I am getting rest again at night it will be easier.

The test of domestic life. It is “easy” to make plans, dream dreams, and determine a course…but start living it out in real life and it is anything but easy!

I suppose, though, life doesn’t have to be a dream to be good. I’d like to say I sing through all my days, but the truth is, I cry through a good number of them.

This evening I finally got around to folding the laundry. Quiet whispers and giggles brought me from my own little world and I found Reagan lying on the floor beside his baby sister. He wore his favorite little hat—the blue plaid one he likes to wear to church—and his pajamas. One arm was flung over Livi as he whispered important things in her ear. I couldn’t hear what he said, but her whole face lit in an adoring smile as she listened.

It was a moment that stood still for me. A moment to remember.

Not every day will see me pass the domestic test, but every day has its moments that stand still. Every day holds love and adoration.

I pray for grace. Grace to see those moments more and fearful ones less. Grace to pause in my harried moments and see the love of my Savior.

Tomorrow is a new day, a new gift, in my very domestic life. That is grace.

10 thoughts on “The Test of Domestic Life…And Grace

  1. Jo, just wanting to say I completely relate, I struggled with postpartum depression after Zachary was born, and even now when that is not an issue I struggle with feeling “sufficient” to do the task set before me! So much wondering and feeling insufficient (but I think that might be the point??) Thank you for sharing so candidly from your heart and for the encouragement that is to the rest of us!

    1. Lisa, thank you for your encouragement. It does help to know others have been there, are there now, and the Lord is faithful to do what he promised!
      Thanks for reminding me that weakness and insufficiency, when taken to Him, is good.

  2. Dear sweet, Jo. As I read your blog I couldn’t help but think back on the days when my babies were young and the responsibilities that overwhelmed me. Some days I thought I would never make it, but somehow I did.

    Dust on the furniture (by the way, that is just a protective covering for your furniture), a messy house, clothes to wash, supper to cook, dishes to wash, husband to care for, outside job, the list just went on and on. It seemed like my mind could never shut down, I was always think about what to do next. I look back now and wonder if it meant more to me to have a clean house, folded laundry, etc than to spend fun time with my kidos. It was so hard to find a balance. You know the crazy thing about all this now, my kids are grown, the house is quite, and I still have dust on my furniture, dishes in the sink, and clothes to wash it just isn’t as important as I thought it was and I too old to care!

    What I enjoy nowadays is my precious little Paytie Bug coming over and I’m all in. We have a “grand” time together. The sound of little footsteps running through the house again is music to my ears. We laugh, bounce on the exercise ball, roll on the floor, eat, we have a blast, then the time comes for her to go home, the house grows quiet, no little feet running, no laughter in the air, and my heart aches to have those days back with my babies. Oh, if only I had known then what I know today, I wouldn’t have taken life so serious. My outlook on life changed so much when I reached 50, but then when I got on the other side of 55 what seemed to have mattered in my 30’s & 40’s is not what I find that matters in life today. It is all about the relationships with my Lord, my husband, my family, my friends.

    Hang in there, Jo. God will bring you through this postpartum depression, you’ll look back on these days and reflect that these were some of the sweetest days of your life and realize what a very intimate time you had with the Lord. (I’m speaking from experience). God is doing an incredible work in you, through you, in your children, and that precious hubby of yours. I see the fruit in your posts. You share your life so openly and so intimately, You bless our lives through your Words of Life.

    You are an eagle, dear one…soar! Isaiah 40:28-31

    Much love,

  3. Sharon,
    I so appreciate your words. Everything you said rings true and I really want to learn these lessons—especially not taking life so seriously and treasuring these precious ones. Every young mother struggles to find the balance between the things that need to be done and the things that truly matter; and every mother who has been there tells her, forget the work and treasure the relationships. I guess it’s one of those things in life we have to learn for ourselves.
    I am thankful for your encouragement, the hope you shared, and your prayers!
    Much love!

  4. Hey Jordan, I ditto much of what Sharon said and the time will fly. I found out during my times that I experience like what you are going through that I actually had weaknesses! Imagine that! I was not supermom nor even superwoman like I thought I was :) I know, this is where we insert much laughter!!!! So, the reality of it was that God was teaching me that I actually needed him. I had gone thru much of my life doing it in my strength and really doing okay I thought. Then that 3rd kid (you know which one!) was a wake up call from God letting me know how weak I really was and how much I needed him. I’m thankful for that happening in my life even though it was a tough look at myself and pretty humbling to think that my dreams and hopes needed to be what God’s dreams were for me and my younguns that He gifted to me. My 4th child was a supreme blessing but tucked into that blessing was depression that started with that pregnancy and never stopped. And yet, I can say that was a blessing also, you have no idea how that humbled me and how much I needed that. It made me so dependent on God and brought me closer to Him than I could have ever imagined. In my weakness, HE is made strong! It really is true. It is okay to be weak in the work that you are doing, it is okay to realize that you can’t do it all. (I hired teens to come do my ironing or take the kids for me for an afternoon). It is okay to have some laundry piled up and even okay to teach the boys how to fold clothes with you. What a great way to teach colors LOL! It is okay for them to see you cry every once in awhile and its okay for them to see you being weak and crying out to God for help. What an example to them. I know how exhausting it is during these times but do you know how much money or possessions or something I would give to be able to go into my kids baby bed and pick them up and snug their sweet little sleepy pajama body!!! I had to beg my youngest to sit on my lap on the couch this morning and I just sat there and loved it, knowing it will be one of the few last times I will get to do that. If I remember right, you still owe me a muffin, some coffee and chat time :) Let me know when, until then you are in my prayers and you are in the multitudes of women that are in those same shoes and have walked where you walk also! Much love

    1. Jenny,
      Thank you for these words of hope! I think often of your words—how you would give anything to be able to pick up your babies and snuggle them again. These are the days for me to never pass up that chance. I held Livi extra close yesterday (she just wanted to snuggle yesterday afternoon) and let everything else go, remembering your words.
      There is a muffin and a cuppa coffee waiting here anytime you can come! Email me and lets get this going!
      Love you!

  5. I have so many days like this accept I don’t have the music yet or 4 kids yet, but I will soon. :) It is funny how you have so many grand ideas before you marry and have kids then real life sets in. Keep, keeping on I am trying to do the same. God is faithful ! Kimber-Leigh

    1. “Keep Calm and Carry On” is a good motto for these days! ;)
      You are right, God IS faithful! And he is faithful to remember that we are human and need him desperately!
      God bless you as you love those little ones with all your heart.

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