As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


All the great parenting experts will tell you that kids long for routine, that it gives them a sense of balance, predictability, security, and therefore happiness.  What I discovered this week is that grownups are the same.  Or at least I am.  When I brought my fifth child home from the hospital twelve days ago, I found great reassurance in the fact that I could still keep up with the old routines I had established to keep my home and family in order while caring for a newborn and his four older siblings.  Far from wanting to put up my feet and relax, I was eager to get back into the groove of things.  And I found joy in it.

I was trying to articulate to Jeff how I was feeling about maintaining this routine.  In the past, it's always been something that I had to do, or else things would accumulate to an unsurmountable amount of work.  I have to do at least one full load of laundry a day (wash, dry and put away) in order to keep on top of things.  I have to wash the dishes and vacuum the floors at least once a day so that they don't get out of hand.  But eventually these things became mundane, and I felt as though I was always working in vain.  The house is always clean at bed time, and completely upside-down within an hour of everyone getting up the next morning.  I would often wonder, "why do I spend so much time cleaning in order to see everything messed up again and again?"

I don't know when the shift happened, or how long I will feel this way, but for the moment I am content to do the same thing day after day.  I realized this week that it is in the repitition of my life, doing these same tasks every day, that I find my joy.  This is what I am happiest doing.  I think part of it is that ever since my first child was born six years ago I have longed to be a stay-at-home mother, and now I am.  I have spent so long wishing for this life that I rejoice at finally being able to be here. And it makes sense to me, because when I think of what a typical day at work was for me, it involved a lot of routine.  I did the same tasks every day, but never wondered whether I was doing this in vain.  The sense of fulfillment came from getting it done, regardless of the fact that I know I'll have to do it again tomorrow.  This is how I feel now.

A friend of mine sent me a quote by G.K. Chesterton that I completely relate to.  It starts off, "It is supposed that if a thing goes on repeating itself it is probably dead; a piece of clockwork," but goes on to say that, "the variation in human affairs is generally brought into them, not by life, but by death; by the dying down or breaking off of their strength or desire."  It is a fullness of life that causes us to do the same things over and over again.  He further says, "The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction. Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony."

For the moment, I am exulting in the monotony of my life.  Perhaps this is what God means when he calls us to be like little children.  My life is constant and repetitive, and all I want is to do it again and again.  I don't know if I will always feel like this (I suspect I won't), but for now I am cherishing it.  Life with my new little family is amazing, and I don't want it to ever change!

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