I help him pack his lunch, lay out his new uniform and tie his cap on tight. It is the first day for him to follow in what has been a six year tradition for our family.
One minute I am drowning in children and the next they are rushing off from me. I joke to my husband that this life of motherhood is “Mayhem, mayhem, mayhem, then you’re lonely. ” We laugh, but I am not joking.
The older I grow the more I know how little we truly need, but the more my days are filled with things. I used to be able to step out of the house and wander wherever I like. Now I purchase and plan, pack and prepare. I worry that I may not have sent them forth with everything they need, and when they return I am here with snacks and shampoo.
The cap must be tied on tight and the sunscreen put in the bag, but as soon as they step from this house they begin to discard, to unravel and lay themselves open to the wide world. To sun and wind and all the Creator’s glory. I am at home, praying they meet Him in their journeys and aren’t lost amidst the ugly things of earth.
They return with unruly hair, eyes full of the sun and sea, backs bare and souls full. I wonder – if they soak up all this beauty away from me – am I really necessary? What is it I am doing in this homemaking?
So I pick up pages that can comfort these questions. My sons go into the wild to escape the ordinariness of things, I step into words and books. These are friends, counselors and freedom amidst the dirty dishes and daily schedules.
The book, Keeping Place, tells of a homemaking, housekeeping God, and I am encouraged that my existence is an echo of His very essence. There is meaning not just for my current role, but in every small action that fills my days.
In this book Jen Pollock Michel references Kathleen Norris… “The liturgies of housework and practices like daily prayer ground us in a proper estimation of ourselves – we are creatures, not the Creator. Our quotidian routines return us to our bodies of dust, forging humility on the anvil of repetitive motion. We can’t abandon the housekeeping, either the laundry or the liturgy, because it is one constraining element for human flourishing.”
The laundry and the prayers I whisper for my boys’ souls and bodies as I wash their shirts… These are one element of the precious life we are given, just like their sand filled hair and days drinking up the sea are another.
It is a dance – orderly and wild. I am grateful to learn the steps with them.
Images taken on July 21, 2017. Head over to www.childhoodunplugged.com for more summer images…