Mary Moments

Michaelyn quoteIf you’re like me (and I think most moms are), you’re always doing. Doing laundry. Doing dishes. Doing dinner. It’s our vocation, and it’s beautiful. Because, by its very nature, it requires us to serve. And while serving certainly demonstrates love, there are times we need to stop the doing. There are times we need to show our love by doing something else.

Like last week, when I was smack in the middle of washing the bathroom sink. I’d only just begun – right after the baby finally fell asleep. There were still a toilet, bathtub and tile floor in need of scrubbing, so I worked quickly but diligently. Who knows how long a baby will sleep? So, I cleaned with an ear waiting to be interrupted, which I was. Only, it wasn’t by the baby. It was by my five year-old.

“Mommy, play with me.” Inside, I groaned. Not that I didn’t want to, but this bathroom had been neglected for too long, and I was sure I didn’t have much time to give it the attention it sorely needed.

“In a minute,” I responded, rinsing a bit more quickly now.

“Mommy, you always say in a minute.” My son waited in the doorway, but I kept scrubbing. Sink done. Onto the tub. Might as well get the big job done before the baby wakes. In the mirror, I saw my son, his hopeful smile quickly disintegrating into a frustrated frown.

“Fine, I’ll play by myself.” I watched the superheroes in his hands droop and then hang, nearly slipping from his grasp as he walked away.

Oh, to be Mary. To neglect the housework in order to love by simply being with the one desiring our attention. But, today I was Martha. Too much to do.

Yet, I couldn’t get those falling heroes out of my mind. ‘Which is the worse to neglect,’ I thought, ‘the housework or my son?

With a sigh, I put down the rag and shut off the bathroom light. “Honey,” I called, “I can do the bathroom later. Let’s play superheroes now.”

When I was a teacher, before becoming a stay-at-home mom, we called such moments “teachable moments”. It was some of the most valuable time in a classroom. It was the time when you, the teacher, stopped your planned lesson to instead teach something you hadn’t intended. Something that interrupted your lesson, something a student brought up that you realized was more important to address or clarify at that moment than what it was you had planned. Sure, the lesson you’d stayed up late drafting last night might not get done, but your students would learn something they needed to know, something you weren’t aware last night they would need to know.

As a mom, I see these as lovable moments. They’re the moments that interrupt our plans of cleaning or cooking, that make us stop the things we need to get done in order to tend to what we hadn’t anticipated our kids or husband would need more.

They’re Mary moments, the times when you know that the house needs tending to, but so do the people you love. They need your undivided attention, your focus to be solely on them. And though the work calls, their voices ring more loudly in your ears.

So, you put down the rag and pick up a superhero. Or a doll. Or you take a seat by your husband on the sofa while the dishes stay piled in the sink. Because the work will always be there, but this precise opportunity to give yourself fully to the people you love won’t.

It took me a while to be okay with a pretty regularly messy house. But once I noticed that my relationships with my kids and my husband were what stayed in good shape, my home’s untidiness suddenly wasn’t so noticeable.

Comments

  1. Oh my…I sure can relate to this myself!! In my heart I am a Mary for sure…I dearly love spending time with my children doing “fun” things. Prob one of my favorite times is when we have picnics or play at the park. Going to the Medieval Fair together. 😊😊Just recently I took them on a day trip to go hiking which was *so much* fun! Just me and my kiddos.😍😍😍 Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen nearly as often as I wish it did. The busyness of life shoves me into Martha mode much too often. 😔 After all, there IS a ton to do, right? Laundry, dishes, meal prep, etc..I just need to remember that short of the meals that are important, nothing is more important than my time with them. Nothing. I want my Mary moments to be more plentiful than my Martha moments, real as they need to be! The Mary moments are the ones I will miss when my children are older and busy with their own lives. Now to nurse my little guy! 😊😊😘

    • Oh, Elise, God bless you! It is indeed so hard to struggle against those Martha moments! It’s beautiful that you recognize the need now, while your kids are young, to live in and relish the Mary moments as often as possible. You and your children will both appreciate it when they’re older! Thanks for the comment…it was a good reminder for me today as I prepare to tackle cleaning my dining room and, yet, my one year old is begging to go outside to play. Guess the cleaning can get done later!

  2. Oh my…I sure can relate to this myself!! In my heart I am a Mary for sure…I dearly love spending time with my children doing “fun” things. Prob one of my favorite times is when we have picnics or play at the park. Going to the Medieval Fair together. 😊😊Just recently I took them on a day trip to go hiking which was *so much* fun! Just me and my kiddos.😍😍😍 Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen nearly as often as I wish it did. The busyness of life shoves me into Martha mode much too often. 😔 After all, there IS a ton to do, right? Laundry, dishes, meal prep, etc..I just need to remember that short of the meals that are important, nothing is more important than my time with them. Nothing. I want my Mary moments to be more plentiful than my Martha moments, real as they need to be! The Mary moments are the ones I will miss when my children are older and busy with their own lives. Now to nurse my little guy! 😊😊

  3. Loved this, Michaelyn! I am actually more a Mary by nature. I more often neglect housework to goof off with my kids . . .and well just to goof off. I am discovering a need to continually course-correct. During Lent I have been much better about keeping up on chores and my house is in pretty good shape. But this morning Lydia asked me to do a project with her and I felt anxious because I have not done my usual daily routine.

    I skipped the routine in the end and we spent an hour making marker explosions with rubbing alcohol on watercolor paper. At one point my 11-year-old fell on the floor laughing when she overheard me say to Lydia, “Hang on, let me get you some more alcohol.” 🙂

    • Kim, that’s hysterical! I just took a lot from your anecdote! It’s funny, because I’m also a Mary by nature, but lately I’ve been letting my Martha side take hold a bit too much and it’s making me so frustrated. When I give into my Mary side, the whole house is so much happier!

  4. Thank you, Michaelyn! As a Martha by nature, I definitely needed this reminder. It is so difficult when that precious nap time that used to be “me time” when I had just one child, is now time that usually needs to be given to my older children. But you are so right–when our relationships are in good shape, a messy house just doesn’t seem to matter very much anymore!

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