“The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only – and that is to support the ultimate career.” – C.S. Lewis
I work in an industry with some of the most overworked, underpaid and underappreciated employees in the world. In fact, I don’t receive a paycheck at all, and my best efforts are often met with complaints and criticism, rather than praise. Some people actually question whether or not I work at all, or whether or not my “so-called work” has value.
I am a stay at home mom.
Most of the work that I do is undone shortly after I complete it. I unload the dishwasher only to start filling it again. I fold a load of laundry… wait, I won’t lie. Let me rephrase. I wash laundry and heap it in a basket, only to put more laundry in the washer. I clean up only to have things spilled again. You all know this routine. You’ve either been in the same trenches as a parent or you’ve witnessed someone doing it. And when everything is undone so quickly it makes you wonder – why do I even bother? Why do I even try? Does any of this matter to anyone when no one realizes what I’m doing or seems to care about or value my effort?
I will be honest. It’s hard even to “work unto the Lord” and to remember that ultimately, I work for Him, and not for my family. That all of this is for His sake, not theirs. It’s hard to think that Jesus really cares about whether or not my kids have clean underwear. (Pro tip: They always will if they have about 30 pairs, no matter how bad you are at laundry.)
But He really does care. That’s the crazy thing. Just as He cares whether or not they have a roof over their head, or food to fill their bellies, or water to drink, He cares about their dirty underwear. He cares about every hair on their head; He numbers each one and knows when one falls. Such is the depth of the knowledge and love of our Savior. And He has blessed me with being an essential, irreplaceable outlet of His love to my family. That is my role - to be an extension of Him. To show my kids that Jesus does, in fact, care about every little part of their lives, and He is there to provide for them.
I show my kids how Jesus works. He never tires of washing us in His blood and mercy and grace so that we can try again, even if we try again just to stumble and fail. He picks us up – again and again. He cleans up our messes, holds us close and tells us He forgives us – again and again. He takes our dirtiest efforts and makes them clean and holy. This repetitive, mundane work that I do, is a mirror of the repetitive work that Christ does. When I remember that, how can I wonder if what I do is actually worth my best effort?
I am in a unique position to model Christ’s forbearing, gentle character for my children. And that has tremendous, sacred, eternal value. By the gift of this work, may my kids learn that their Savior will never turn them away, even after they have made the same mistake 90 times. May they learn that He will provide for them their daily needs – even the smallest ones. May they learn that He is always near.
May I learn it too.