I was a horrible mother this week.
The state of it all...the house, the schoolwork, the meals...I struggled through it, dragged my children through the day and barked orders. I lamented about time, about mess, about toys and books not put away properly. I felt crushed. Burdened. Buried. I tried to dig my way out, but I couldn't get to the top of my laundry pile or to the edge of my sanity.
A dear friend offered to keep my kids for a couple of hours today so I could dig a little more. Get a little closer to the surface. And what I found was startling.
After de-cluttering toys in the basement, filling two boxes for thrift stores, I climbed the stairs. I was working fast...hard...only 2 hours and so much to get through. I entered a closet upstairs, prepared to rid it of all its unnecessary necessities once and for all. (I know that, one day, if I'm not careful, the owner of this closet will end up on t.v., crying as the Hoarders Police carry away the puzzle she never liked but was "too much in her memory" to part with.)
I walked into the closet and faced the shelves jam-packed with items, books, toys and things with zippers. I sighed as I stared, wondering where to start.
Quite suddenly, the scene faded and another took its place. Images flashed and startled.
The shelves looked pristine. White. Empty. Clean. Bare.
The image loomed and I couldn't rid my eyes of its sight. I stood, paralyzed as the box dropped from my hand and the truth of that image burned straight into my heart. The clothes hung improperly on the hangars, the stuff placed precariously on the shelf, the shoes piled in the corner...it was all gone. The mess was cleaned up, the clutter removed, the shoes but a memory. And my heart ached.
My spirit broken, my resolve crushed, I stood and stared. More foreshadowing thoughts invaded the scene. In the wake of perfect shelves, cleaned and pure, I saw a woman with time. Full and in abundance, she was blessed with the commodity. She was able to contemplate a never-ending stream of thoughts without interruption. But there was less to contemplate. She walked through a pristine house. But she was alone. She wrote to her heart's content. But she had less to talk about.
The mother who, just some short years ago, yearned for clean and put together suddenly longed to see crumbs on the floor. She ached to see messes, to hold hands, to teach multiplication and read stories. She longed to go back, do it again, this time with a calmer spirit...with a heart that understood the brevity of these years.
I'm not sure how long I stood there, staring, before the rightful image took its place. Slowly it came into focus...the mess reappeared and I saw something different. Instead of a messy shelf and unruly clothing, I saw a sensitive heart and a mad dash to save the memories lest they cease to be.
I glanced at the empty box in my hand...back to the heavy-laden shelf...and through my spirit into the longing that lingered. I closed my eyes tight...yearned for a new heart, a new beginning, a chance to do the week over and embrace the messy that is motherhood.
Beckoned by the cross, running to the throne, I chose grace. Cleansed...washed white...a new beginning. Oh that I would embrace it fully! That I would refuse to let the enemy steal my sunrise and knit regret together with failure.
I resolved to try again. To make more effort to hold the hands responsible for the mess and help them, yes, learn to clean up their own...but more than that I desired oh so desperately to love them unconditionally. To live this out together...to experience a peace and calm in the bits of chaos that envelope this life.
I left the closet as I had found it, carried the empty box back downstairs, and journeyed to gather my children.