All I do is clean!
Sometimes, as homeschooling mothers with small children, we feel like all we do is clean. Do you ever feel like that? I felt that way for a solid twelve years. Twelve years! Every time one kid grew out of the messy stage, another one came along to take her place and of course, I still had the other one, two, three kids to contribute. My children are dear to me, but I don’t miss all the cleaning. I felt like a maid on steroids.
I made breakfast. I’d hurry up and clean so we could do lessons. Clean up the playdough and paper scraps before lunch. Make lunch. Clean up again. Do more creative things. Clean up the house and the table. Make dinner and then, you guessed it, clean. I cleaned on the weekends and cleaned in my sleep. (No, really!) On top of it, I never felt like my house was sufficiently clean. I’d finish cleaning up only to find that while I was cleaning in one room, someone was “un-cleaning” a different room. Sigh.
It can be hard to stay focused when our children are small. There are days when we wonder if it’s all worth it and we feel like giving up. It is so easy to allow resentment and jealousy to fill our hearts. I know. I’ve traveled that road, too. But, then, I’d look into their little happy faces and know that no one loves them like me.
Leaving it to a professional
One time, my son got orange paint on the floor. He tried to clean it up and the more he wiped it, the more it smeared. He ended up spreading it over a much greater area than the original spill. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get it all off. He kept saying, “I’m sorry” and he started to sniffle a bit. I gave him a hug and said, “I see that you have been trying. Here, let me help you.” I had to step in and clean it up for him. He needed a “professional.”
Those days are long gone for me, but the house still needs to be cleaned. Recently, I told my husband that I was ready to hire a professional cleaning service. My kids are older now and mostly clean up after themselves, so you might wonder why I’d even need one. Well, wonder of wonders, six people in a bungalow means lots of random garbage and an over-used bathroom. The kids and I can keep it tidy, but deep cleaning is challenging for this momma with chronic pain issues. Just stacking a few boxes of books leaves me hurting all day. I cannot do it. I need a professional.
Just like my son with the paint, I need a professional to clean up the messes of my life, too. No matter how hard I try, I just make the mess worse. But 1 John 1:8-9 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” NIV I need to first confess and then he will forgive and purify. I need to admit that I make messes and that I cannot clean them up myself.
Not like me
Thankfully, Jesus is not like me. He never wonders if it is worth it to keep cleaning up messes. In Romans 5:8 it says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” NIV Even though I was still his enemy when he died, even though he had the power to call down a host of angels, he still chose the cross. He still felt I was worth it.
Even though I continue to make small messes, he doesn’t get resentful, tired, grumpy, or impatient with my bumbling. Instead, the Bible says in Lamentations 3:22-26, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for him.’ The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” NIV
Every day is a new day, every day I can proclaim what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” NIV Thank you, Lord Jesus.
Extending God’s grace
Since Jesus is so patient and compassionate with us, since he never gets tired of cleaning up our messes, perhaps we can see our little children differently. We need eyes of grace and hands of mercy. It is hard to be home with small children, but if we see them as Jesus does, He will give us what we need. We will receive a fresh measure of His loving kindness each morning if we seek Him before we take on the day’s messes. We don’t have to feel like maids on steroids.