Noelle Kirchner, M.Div., is a Presbyterian minister and mother of two boys. As they wrestle on the floor, she enjoys wrestling with her manuscripts. She writes for Huff Post Parents, the TODAY Show Parenting Team, and has been a repeat guest author at in(courage). You can find her on her blog, where she writes about faith and parenting, and on Twitter and Facebook.
I got this sign on vacation, and it now hangs in my laundry room.
It's almost February, and all of our Christmas decorations are still up.
But really, that's not the worst of my confession. My house is a mess, so it's going to be even longer before I get to them.
The reason for the "backup" isn't a bad thing. This Type-A girl is intentionally taking a couple of hours everyday to do something that refuels me. I am not doing the dishes that are leftover from last night, folding laundry that has been sitting in bins for two days, or paying bills during those two hours. I will get to all of those things, like the Christmas decorations, eventually.
In the afternoon when my younger son is napping and my older son is relaxing, I allow myself to do the same. That's right. I actually relax during "crunch time!" Maybe I write to you while sipping a cup of tea. Maybe I read my Bible or devotions from the pile of books on my nightstand. Maybe I take a little nap. The point is, I do something for me. It feels so good, it's almost as if it's how God intended it.
It has taken me over thirty years to get to this point. I just love ticking things off my list and the satisfaction it brings. And I really want a home that is clean, organized, and perfectly decorated (or undecorated at this point). But I want my sanity, health, and quality time with my boys more.
The reality is that when I take time out, I'm a better mom afterward. I'm a happier mom too. So I remain convicted, but I have to fight the voice in my head.
I have to fight the voice that says I am not a good mother when my home is sometimes a mess. I grew up in family where a clean home wasn't an option, it was a nonnegotiable responsibility. I have struggled with my Mom's imaginary assessment of me. And I have struggled with what other people would think if they saw my home messy. (And trust me, with two little boys, generalized havoc can happen almost instantaneously.)
But I don't want that nagging voice in my head to rob me of what is at stake. Ultimately, the goal of any home should be one that we feel comfortable in, a place that functions as a safe haven from the world. What does it say about us if we place such high expectations on ourselves that we don't even feel like we can relax there? What does it say when we cannot refuel and nurture the people God whom made us to be because we're more concerned about what other people think, even from within the walls of our own home? Finally, what does it say when we give more time to our home than to the people who are living inside of it, ourselves included?
My answer to all of this is that I'm attempting to let go of the little things. I choose to refuel during nap time. "Nap time" might look different for all of us depending upon our schedules, but the challenge is the same.
Don't get me wrong. I will thoroughly clean my house; I just have to be patient some weeks more than others before everything gets done. Patience is a challenge. I like everything within my control in a neat little bow. How about you? But I believe it's important we create homes that nurture rest, fun, and development - both for our children and ourselves. Moms, I'm here to tell you: You're worth it.
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matt. 11:28-30).
If this post resonated with you, you might also like A Peaceful Pause.