Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Simple Luxury

A year ago I posted the following:

Life goes ’round. You tackle the piles of laundry, the runny noses, the carpools, and the dishes. Sometimes the tedium gets to you.

And then something happens to shake you out of your reverie. You realize with startling clarity that life can change in a second.

It comes in the form a phone call, a letter, a headline. It brings news of a diagnosis, a catastrophe, an accusation, a lay off.
Suddenly that endless To Do List of the ordinary seems a glorious luxury, a comforting normalcy that has slipped away and threatens to be gone for good. You would gladly pay the bills, mow the lawn, scrub the bathroom.

These were not theoretical sufferings, but true stories, so very close to home. Today some of these issues have been resolved, some fully, some with significant fall out.

On a much less serious note, we have faced wide-scale layoffs in Dave's field.  For now we are fine, in fact, more than fine because sometimes I need a wake-up call in order to fully recognize God's provision in my life. As I sat quietly with the Lord the other morning, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the ordinary life I live.

I am a stay-at-home mother. While in some quarters this might invite derision, I fully recognize that it is a luxury. Most of my friends blend work in the home and work outside the home. With small children in particular, it is a juggling act that demands a daily dose of fortitude, creativity at times, diligence always.

Many of my friends with older children are in the work force out of love for their chosen professions, but most of the ones with young children work out of necessity. They are not funding expensive summer camps and luxury vehicles. Working mothers leave tiny babies with trusted caregivers so that the family carries health insurance. They cram in billable hours while their children are at school so that the budget balances at the end of the month.

I sat with a friend while she lamented putting her newborn in childcare everyday. Her husband was self-employed; her salary was small, but she carried the health insurance. I implored her to look past the guilt and tell herself, "I go to work so that my kids can go to the doctor."

It was heroic and hard.

I don't do any of this. Mine is certainly no life of leisure. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Taking care of four children is the most demanding job I've ever had. I don't, however, carry the added burden of getting out the door in a power suit or scrubs every day.

The other morning, as I pondered how quickly and completely circumstances can change, I lifted my heart in thanks to God for blessings that I too often take for granted. Suddenly the long hours seem a trifling annoyance, and I have an overwhelming desire to kiss my insurance card. I am grateful for all Dave does to make our life happen. Completing seven years of engineering studies was not easy, not fun. He has coped with a long commute and a stressful job for twenty years. Baby, you earned that commemorative clock!

On the heels of this prayer time full of thanksgiving -- as if to test the extent of my gratitude -- I encountered a series of days chock full of mis-communication and frustration, mostly of my own making. I sent a note explaining how a significant ball was dropped only to drop a ball myself only minutes later. I was ready to tear my hair out over someone's glaring lack of organization only to confront my own.

We have dealt with missing backpacks and belts gone AWOL. I spent 60 minutes making phone calls to get a ride for one child to one soccer game. We are all sniffling and blowing. I reached for a Kleenex only to find that someone had dismembered every box in the house and then deposited the unused Kleenex in the trash.


But you know, I married late and enjoyed many years in the working world before hanging it up to be a stay-at-home mom. I loved my job, but the working world holds no false illusions for me. I have a keen understanding of office politics, the interminable nights of grading papers, the daily grind that gets every bit as old as missing belts, spilled milk, and crumpled Kleenex boxes. On my bad days at home, I know the grass isn't greener. Mind you, the pay is better and the clothes are much, much spiffier, but the workplace -- just like the home -- comes with its own crosses to bear.

For today that endless To Do List of the ordinary is a glorious luxury, a comforting normalcy. Once more and with renewed appreciation, I will tackle the piles of laundry, the runny noses, the carpools, and the dishes.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reminder, Kelly! I'm so grateful to be able to stay at home, too. And God has been reminding me, too, about all my blessings, especially a good job for my husband. It makes those long, late days he had last week bearable to remember that HE HAS A JOB! Earlier in our marriage the long days would have driven me nuts! Thank God for perspective!
God Bless, Laura A.
P.S.- Ignore any grammatical errors....they're intentional. :)

claire said...

I totally relate to this! When my son was a baby, I had no choice but to work fulltime. By the time he was 18 months old, we had reached a point that I was able to drastically reduce my work schedule. Now, almost two years later, my husband's job is in trouble, and my biggest fear is that I might have to return to work fulltime. I freely admit that I have often taken for granted how blessed I am to be home almost fulltime, and I have let the daily drudgery get me down at times. But our current crisis is reminding me that though it's not easy being at home, it is a blessing and a luxury that I pray I'll be able to maintain for years to come.

Anonymous said...

I too am grateful to be a "stay-at-home" mom again after working outside the home for the last ten years. What a gift to have a husband who encourages me in this and children who love and value my "presence" more than the "presents" they could receive with added income. Laurie

Kelly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kelly said...

Laura -

Your former English teacher can't spell the word they.

- Kelly

Anonymous said...

It's okay...I forgive your misspellings. The best greeting card I ever saw read something to the effect of:
"Bad spellers of the world....UNTIE"
I laughed so hard for so long!

Kelly said...

Love that! Hee hee!