Molly, I agree with you! I read your post today and thought, My goodness, I don’t have to write a single thing this week because Molly’s said all that needs to be said about a mother’s work.
And just like you, Molly, I set out this week feeling quite confident that through my pictures, I could capture all that I do and that these pictures would somehow show – be evidence of – my work.
But really, my “to-do” list is just a list of tasks. Granted, they need to be done – the laundry must be washed, the bathrooms cleaned, the children schooled, the meals fixed, the baths administered … the jobs crossed off the list – DONE! This is the way our house continues to function. However, functionality is not truly work; it does not, in itself, bear fruit – it is a mechanical term. A cabinet that opens and closes and holds goods is functional; a car that is able to bear us from place to place is functional; a house that is relatively clean, whose inhabitants are relatively clean, well fed, and clothed is functional. But tomorrow the tasks must be DONE again – the laundry must be washed again, the meals prepared again, the house cleaned again.
True work produces; it bears fruit; its result is growth; its wages are priceless. One would never describe an apple tree that bears sweet fruit as “functional.” It’s work, as an apple tree, is to bear fruit – to grow each year and continue to bring forth fruit to nourish and delight an eager mouth and, more importantly, its Creator. So I too am called upon not merely to be functional (which is hard enough), but to bear sweet fruit. This is truly work!
Unfortunately, my fruit so very often is bitter and worm-ridden, rotting on the branch, poisoned by pride, narcissism, criticality, harshness, and anxiety. My work then is not so much the tasks on my to-do list, but the diligence of a loving nurturer who strives always to build up, encourage, strengthen, respect, reverence, appreciate – grow.
This work is, I find, impossible to do on my own. When I lose my temper and am sarcastic instead of temperate, it is Christ’s gentle hand on my shoulder that humbles me and directs my steps toward the offended who is in need of an apology. When my hand is a little too hard, the most Holy Theotokos’s tender embrace of her Son and my God shows me that softness is truly great strength. When whining and complaining drive me to tears of prideful frustration, St. Emmelia (mother to ten, five of whom are Saints) stands before me as a model of forbearance and bearer of great fruit pleasing to God.
Last winter, as I lamented my empty days without all my children, I thought that homeschooling again, while being beneficial to all, would also provide structure to my day – structure and schedule and to-dos that would provide functionality. But I’m finding that the true work I’m doing (and that which I believe I truly hungered for last year) is not the jobs that make us function, but the work that produces – that bears fruit.
So I guess I did have something to write about after all. And these photos are pictures of my tasks and my work as a mother and wife and child:
Teaching delight in learning (at least trying my very best to do so!).
Optimizing the functionality of our space and resources – new pantry!
Saying “Thank you” beautifully.
Trying so very hard to encourage and praise and demonstrate the joy of completing a task to the best of one’s ability.
The joy of finding one’s child immersed in a good book! You can’t teach this – it is gift!
Creating a space for everything so that everything might (someday please) be in its place.
Try as I might, I still can’t find anything redeeming about laundry; it just must be done and done … and done again.
I am thankful. So very thankful for the opportunity to do this work that God has placed in my hands. May we all be blessed with work that allows us the opportunity to bear fruit pleasing to God.