We put him in his own room for the first time tonight.
The owl hushed him with the sound of ocean waves.
The woodsy diffuser filled the air with the smooth sent of lavender & vetiver.
A circle of stars shone overhead.
We said a prayer.
I sang him his lullaby.
Everything seemed perfect!
But oh let me tell you what it would look like if they were on…
If you turned on the lights, you’d see my typically fashionably dressed boy layered in two pairs of pajamas, socks, and a beanie, because this mama did not have properly sized apparel for a cold front in May!
You would find the tornado aftermath that I leave everywhere I go when I’m busy. And since we are coming off of 2 weeks of travel followed by a big work event this past weekend, watch out! 🌪🌪🌪
You would notice that the room within which we put down our precious babe is a half nursery/half home office. And I’m not talking a split down the middle, well Pinterested, beautifully organized type room. Nope. It’s more, work stuff, scattered among baby toys, next to piles of unpacked clothes yet to be put away.
And worst of all, you would see that the place where he lay his sweet head is not a beautifully crafted (or even Wal-Mart crafted crib.) Oh no, that would mean I would have had to:
- Stick with a decision on which crib to purchase.
- Admit that it is ok to purchase a crib in California because it is also ok if we don’t pack up everything we own and move across the country with an infant anytime soon.
I’m a mess. A bit of a trainwreck. And my biggest problem is, I’m in denial about it.
I like to think that I have it all together. I pride myself in a perfectly kept home, a perfectly fed family, and a perfectly organized life.
But if I’m being honest… that $#!% is hard!
And then, add a holiday or momentous occasion to the mix, and, my word, the pressure is on.
Even before kids, I put a lot of effort into crafting a picturesque holiday, whether Christmas or Flag Day. Now, my first Christmas as a mom, I stayed up until 5 in the morning to compose the perfect Christmas morning… for my one month old!!
You would think that should be the coup de grâce, right? Oh no! As if holidays weren’t enough to stress over, my mom heart has conjured up this whole new circumstance I call, “The Last Firsts.” (This is really just a depressing, dramatic spin on what should otherwise be an exciting milestone.)
“That’s the last time he’ll see his first bird.”
“That was the last time he’ll have his first Easter morning.”
“That was the last time he’ll sleep in his room for the very first time.”
(You see what I mean now? Crazy, right?)
And for these “Last Firsts,” the setting should be perfect! His outfit should be perfect! Heck, if I had a say in it, the weather should be perfect!!
Something about our culture tells us these perfections are necessary; as if we want to bring the subordinate 50’s housewife back. (I may like to dress like her, but I definitely don’t want to be her.)
Perhaps the Last Firsts are a bit on the extreme side. But let’s go back to just the perfectly kept house.
The culmination of perfectionist pressure that we put on ourselves brings about a beautiful house!
…full of anxiety, stress, and little quality time spent together.
The other day, about an hour after my husband came home, he said, “Man, tonight feels extra relaxing.”
I knew exactly why.
He had lots to tell me that night. (He typically does after work; much of which is mechanical lingo that goes way over my head no matter how much I focus.) But this particular day was a bit more stressful than normal. Yet when he came home, he felt extra relaxed.
I would like to give credit to the remnant scent of eucalyptus and cedarwood from the bath I just took, but I know that wasn’t it.
For the first time in years, or possibly ever, when my husband came home, I sat and listened.
I mean, I always “listen” when he comes home. But usually, I listen as I finish the dishes. I listen as I flitter between rooms to change out the laundry. I listen as I shove my face full of food, because the baby just went down and I finally have both hands to myself!
But this night I listened. Period.
I sat in bed, gave him eye contact, and focused on nothing but him.
There were dishes to wash; clothes to fold; and about 50 items that I could check off my to do list if you only handed me a computer!
But I had to actively choose to be with my husband instead.
How tragic is that?
We prioritize chores with this illusion that, once they’re done, then we will finally be able to relax.
Face it sister, those things will never fully be done.
We can spend our lives scrubbing, and all that will happen is, we will find more things to scrub.
When I married Jay, I didn’t vow to fold his clothes til “death do us part.” I vowed to have and to hold! I vowed to spend life with him. And yes, sometimes life is cleaning. But it definitely isn’t clean first, do all that having, holding, and loving when you get the chance.
“Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ.”
— Ephesians 5:22
Last I checked, God doesn’t call us to a life of perfectionism. He does call us to be great wives and women. But that doesn’t look like a perfectly kept house.
It does look a little like this:
“Likewise, tell the older women to be reverent in their behavior, teaching what is good, rather than being gossips or addicted to heavy drinking. That way they can mentor young women to love their husbands and children, and to be sensible, morally pure, working at home, kind and submissive to their own husbands, so that God’s word won’t be ridiculed.”
— Titus 2:3-5
As women, we are called to take care of our household; to be diligent with our work. But our diligence is not to equate to perfection. One translation of this verse replaces “working at home” with “to keep a good house.”
Good. Not even great. And definitely far from perfect. Just, good.
My fear of my results slipping from perfection not only makes me miserable, but it makes me miserable to be around. I’m easily flustered; I can snap at the drop of the hat. I know this about myself. I see it every time I put way too much pressure on anything. And do you know what the Bible says about that?
“It’s better to live in a corner on the roof than to share a house with a contentious woman.”
— Proverbs 21:9
It says, it’s better for our husbands, or roommates, or anyone in our lives to live on the flippin’ roof then to have to stand with in the same four walls! Why do we torture ourselves, and those around us!?
“A wise woman builds her house, while a foolish woman tears hers down with her own hands.”
— Proverbs 14:1
It is easy to spend so much time focusing on perfection; to agonize over where to place that picture frame, or how to tie all the ribbons on the presents just so. And meanwhile, we are ignoring the things that really matter —the other heartbeats with which we share our home!— and our home crumbles at the work of our very own hands.
From what I’ve gathered in 6 months of motherhood, (plus some raw truths from my Tell-It-Like-It-Is Mom Tribe,) some days your house is clean, some days it’s a royal mess. Some days you serve a perfectly balanced food pyramid meal, and some days you give your kids cupcakes for lunch. As for organization… Oh, I won’t even pretend to know. I have no words of organizational wisdom for anybody.
We are called to do our best; and to know that our best can never be perfect.
There is only one who is perfect. His name is Jesus.
Because He is perfect, we don’t have to be!
A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants.
She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”
— Proverbs 31:10-31