"Your body is the first thing any child of man ever wanted. Therefore dispose yourself to be loved, to be wanted, to be available. Be there for them with a vengeance. Be a gracious, bending woman. Incline your ear, your heart, your hands to them.... To be a Mother is to be the sacrament - the effective symbol - of place. Mothers do not make homes, they are our home." from Bed and Board, Robert Farrar Capon

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Learning the Balance

Our friend Carla sent this in.  She is recently widowed and has six children, two grandchildren, and countless nieces and nephews.

 "As I read your post about the laundry and God’s will, I was reminded of a poem by Ruth Hulbert Hamilton. I didn’t ever read the entire poem before today, but I found a wall plaque with the last stanza on it when I was a young mother, and it fit right in with my philosophies at the time, so I put it up in my house.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

    Now, I used it to justify NOT taking care of business as I ought, but that is not what I’m saying.  As a young mother (or any mother) we are constantly bombarded with thoughts that we are not doing enough.  If I’m scrubbing the floor, I should be rocking the baby or reading to the toddler.  If I’m playing legos or dolls with the toddler, I should be scrubbing the floor.  It never ends.  I just wanted to encourage all of you that, although it is very important to keep your home tidy, it is more important to be “home” for your children. 

     There is definitely an art to the balancing of daily chores and giving of yourself to your children. (If you ever get the act down, I’ll rent a circus tent and we’ll all pay admission to see how it’s done.)  Yes, God’s will is that you clean those clothes and vacuum up the dog hair, but it’s not only that.  As sinful humans, we gravitate toward the thing that pleases us. 

     If we enjoy housekeeping and really like things clean, we might tend to put off the toddler or the baby to “get it done.”  Then there are those of us who would rather play with the children all day and Daddy comes home to chaos.  Finally, there are those of us who have “projects.”  We want to get this little dress made for Susie (who would rather have Mom) or we want to get that scrapbook of the family vacation done (Children need to have pictures to remind them of the family outing, you know.) or “I just have one more email or post to finish.”  In the latter case, the chores don’t get done AND the children don’t get Mom.  So wherever we fall in the pit of deceitful hearts – and we probably have a good idea where that is (Your friends do, if you don’t.), our only hope is Christ. 

     Blogs like this help mothers who are not able to spend a lot of time on the phone at any given moment or attend a lot of meetings, but who can grab a moment to read a byte or two.  They help extend the mutual conversation of reproof and encouragement, edification and the renewed hope we all so desperately need on a daily basis.  So grab a byte to eat and ask God to help you in your daily balancing act.  My final encouragement would be to err on the side of more children and less housework if you have to choose.  Here’s the poem I wrote about it all.

There’s laundry and ironing and dishes then still
There’s sweeping and mopping and wiping up spills,
There’s folding and scrubbing and housekeeping ills
There’s food to prepare now my family to fill

More laundry, more ironing and making the bed
More sweeping and scrubbing and washing of heads
More folding and dusting and changing the beds
There’s nothing I’d rather be doing instead

But what about Johnny who’s playing upstairs
And what about Susie who needs loving care
And baby has been in that same bouncy chair
For nearly an hour while Mommy prepares

A sumptuous dinner and makes all things neat
She’s worked very hard now so go wipe your feet
As Johnny and Susie file back to the door
They wonder why Mommy’s no fun anymore.

So keep your house tidy and make all the beds
But children need loving and maybe instead
Of scrubbing that floor you could stop for a time
And read to your children or watch as they climb

The tree in the yard or they run “very fast”
Make time for the glue and the glitter at last
Make time for the dancing and dressing up fun
For children grow quickly so go hug your son

Take time for the cuddling and playing and such
For God in His mercy has given you much
To fill up your hands and I don’t mean with soap
Your children are treasures, now go give them hope.



  1. Wow, Carla! Thanks for the bytes.
    Grace K.

  2. Wow!! I read this as a byte and felt encouraged and re-energized to go about preparing for Thanksgiving. I really enjoyed baking with my girls. I was able by God's grace to enjoy the journey rather than worrying about "Getting it done"... It's a privilege to be hearing these kind of words from women who are faithful to teach us how to love our husbands and family as the Bible says... Thank you for taking the time to share this with us. :)

  3. Thankyou, Carla for this poem, but more than that, the wisdom behind it. You have gone before us younger mothers to preserve life. Thanks again for sharing it with us. I'm going to put this poem on one of my kitchen walls. - Michelle

  4. Thank you Carla! As a "new" mother (my oldest is only 1 :-) I am always trying to learn the balance between juggling the housework and the two girls. Your poem reminded me once again to enjoy my little ones and take time to just cuddle. Thanks again.

  5. Thank you for posting your Poem. I'm reminded of and thankful for vocation. The question where am I and who is in front of me comes to mind. There is always gonna be that 'something I should be doing' thought but just having friends to remind me that whatever is right in front of me at that time is what I'm supposed to be doing.

  6. Boy, I needed this one. Thanks!