Recently my heart has been heavy with stories around me of mothers who leave their kids in daycare to “do more important things,” Christian speakers who encourage other mothers to leave their kids and get “back in the workplace, where the harvest is,” and mothers who are home with little kids and feeling like their days are just full of mundane drudgery. We live in an era where women’s empowerment is a cool catchphrase, but one of the basic jobs that we were uniquely designed to do–nurture little ones–is lame.
As a Christian, I have great comfort in the knowledge that God is the Creator of the mundane and the sublime. Do you think the God who knows every single sparrow, who can count the hairs on your head, and who created the digestive system that is keeping you so busy changing diapers does not value those things? How can kid poop and spit up be insignificant when God designed your little person’s body to produce and excrete those substances? How can bathing sweaty little preschoolers be unimportant when Jesus Himself washed His disciples’ feet? How can clipping fingernails and flossing teeth be inconsequential to the One who designed our fingernails and teeth and gums?
It’s always good to remind ourselves that these constant physical tasks of cooking, doing laundry, changing diapers, and scrubbing toilets are valuable because of who we are doing them for. Childcare is significant because inside that person whose intense physical needs you are tending constantly has an eternal soul. When my firstborn was a baby, I had a picture of the care required at the other end of the spectrum, as I watched my mother caring for the physical needs of my senile, fragile grandmother. Those end of life struggles with body parts ceasing to function properly could be so gross and sad and depressing, but those who care for the elderly with honor and love do so because the dignity of their humanity, even as their charges’ bodies are shutting down. We do not just have value when we’re old enough to earn money (but young enough to be attractive); because we’re made in the image of God, we are valuable from the moment of conception and throughout eternity. What a sublime reality!
Many of us have friends and husbands who have impressive-sounding careers. Some of our readers have prestigious careers themselves. I don’t ever want to minimize the hard work and faithfulness required for any vocation. But I won’t accept the idea that those who are dedicating this part of their lives to caring for the most vulnerable members of society–and doing it without any financial remuneration or public acclaim–are in any way unimportant or inferior to their professional friends.
To the young mother surrounded by dirty dishes, sticky floors, and snotty-nosed little people, press on. Your daily work has eternal significance because those little mess-makers have eternal significance.
To the mom of an older kid who has just spent an hour talking and listening and helping your adolescent sort out his emotions instead of hitting your to-do list, do not let yourself say your evening was wasted. Your investment in your child is never a waste.
To the mom whose kids are grown but who is now taking Grandma to so many doctor’s appointments and buying Depends and managing all the prescriptions for old person maladies, I honor you for honoring her.
May all of us, in whatever life stage we’re in right now, see beauty and value in our “mundane” tasks this week!