work that God sees: a lesson for mothers

Daylight is increasing rapidly now and it’s slanting into our house in ways we haven’t seen in a year.  I notice it reflecting off two pieces of old scotch tape on the ceiling. They must’ve been from the paper snowflakes that we hang at Christmastime every year…except last year I was sick and we had kittens and everything was running on minimalist survival mode. Now that I think of it, we didn’t hang snowflakes last year. So those pieces of tape have been there for at least 15 months and I never noticed.

work that God sees: a lesson for mothers

And they’re still on ceiling. Knowing they are there is an entirely different thing from taking the time to stop what I’m doing to drag the piano bench over and stand on my tiptoes to flail at small pieces of plastic that may or may not come off in one piece. Even in the magical second trimester it sounds exhausting. Not to mention dangerous.

The days are so full, there’s no time for nesting yet. I’d love to nest, to find more margin and quiet. But this season is pregnant in many ways, and just getting through the school day is enough to drive me batty.

Check this journal assignment. Print out these papers. Figure out how to multiply algebraic fractions. Find a map of Cape Horn. Check on the progress of the avocado plant, and find out exactly how toxic it is to cats who like to attack houseplants.




I don’t mind doing school with the kids. You might think I’m nuts for saying this, but I even kind of like re-learning algebra with our oldest. It’s a game, a puzzle, a mystery with a perfect solution. Give me a quiet room and some time with a sheet of paper and a sharp pencil, and I’m a happy, geeky camper.

What I do mind is trying to help one kid with algebra on my left while helping another kid with arithmetic on my right, fielding questions from two other kids, and keeping a covert eye on another child who would rather do the potty dance than ask politely to go to the bathroom. It’s whiplash where I need white space, and it makes me the grumpiest camper in the house.

I’ve noticed that I get super peevish when they take turns asking the same question in five minute increments so I get to answer the same thing over and over and over. What’s for dinner? When’s Dad coming home? Are you going to share that chocolate?

My answers (and temper) get pretty short. Food. Later. Are you kidding?!

My other sore point lately is interruptions — which I thought we had conquered, but these things crop up again after a while until we are playing Bad Manners Whack-A-Mole — and I am quickly fried when I’m in the middle of an important talk with one kid only to have another kiddo (or two or three) come in and simultaneously ask/request/complain about something as urgent as an argument over who left the jar of peanut butter on the counter.

Before I boil over, I send two-thirds of them outside — all the math I have brainpower left for — and gut a squash for dinner. Are they ever listening? Don’t they see what I’m already doing?

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The honest answer is No, not always. And part of it, I know, is that I need to be listening closer and seeing them more, too. So much of it comes back to the mama and the environment created by her own attitude.

But another part of it is that they should not have to hear or see everything, because we are not doing our work for bragging rights, recognition, or applause. We are doing a work that God sees.

And why they went I cannot tell: some say it was to win gold. It may be so; but the noblest deeds which have been done on earth have not been done for gold. It was not for the sake of gold that the Lord came down and died, and the Apostles went out to preach the good news in all lands…

And there are heroes in our days also, who do noble deeds, but not for gold. Our discoverers did not go to make themselves rich when they sailed out one after another in to the dreary frozen seas’ nor did the ladies who went out last year to drudge in the hospitals of the East, making themselves poor, that they might be rich in noble works. And young men, too, whom you know, children, and some of them of your own kin, did they say to themselves, “How much money shall I earn?” when they went out to the war, leaving wealth, and comfort, and a pleasant home, and all that money can give, to face hunger and thirst, and wounds and death, that they might fight for their country and their Queen? No, children, there is a better thing on earth than wealth, a better thing than life itself’ and that is, to have done something before you die, for which good men may honour you, and God your Father smile upon your work.

– Charles Kingsley, The Heroes

Yes. All of that. But still…it would be nice to know that something grand is coming out of all this mundane chaos. The laundry will always need to be done, the budget will always need to be met, and the lessons (academic and otherwise) will always need to be taught. Tomorrow, we’ll wake up and do it all over again, and our kids will be one day older. And so will we. And where are we going with all of these days, anyway?

Is it someplace grand? Is it something beyond dishes and manners and algebra?

And He answers in scripture, in His own words:

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.

– John 14:12, ESV

Honestly, I don’t think this is a very helpful answer at first because I’ve never really understood it. We will do greater things than He did? I checked the Greek, and “greater” really does mean greater: larger, older, louder, more.

Greater things than this we will do…did You really mean that? Is that what we’re doing? How is that possible?

Yes, I meant that, He says, and it’s possible for many reasons.

But for starters…well, Love, I was never a mother.


work that God sees: a lesson for mothers — 3 Comments

  1. Shannon, oh how I loved your post. I think any of us with more than two within two years of each other can relate. We want so much to do well and yet we’re outnumbered and overwhelmed with trying to do well that we end up short with those we’re doing it for. *sheepish grin*
    God bless you with homeschooling (assumption?) and pregnancy all wrapped up in beautiful chaos! Your home sounds wonderful and full of life and energy, though never silence until they’re all asleep. :)
    Your final line “well, Love, I was never a mother” was my favorite.
    Thank you for a chance to gasp breath before swimming in the churning ocean of child-rearing again. It’s making us stronger to tread water, but there are times we’d really like a calm pool instead with a float-bed and a cute umbrella fruit beverage.

  2. I remember these days and feelings when my children were still at home. I love the greater thing….loving our children, and now my grandchildren. God bless you!

  3. Wow!! So good to know that motherhood looks similar no matter where we live! And to know that someone else walks what feels like a mundane journey of same old same old. And crying together with the last line “I was never a mother.”
    So touching and encouraging and will definitely give God and me something to chat about today, as I too have struggled with the ‘Really? This counts?’ moments.
    He keeps whispering to me … ‘Just breath!’
    I’m trying Papa!!
    I just wish the children would notice that I’m busy before opening their mouths. I wish they knew what it is like to be me juggling everything like I do. I wish they didn’t get jealous when I was spending time with someone else, no matter who that someone is. I wish the bickering would stop. I wish I could catch a breath!
    And He responds with ‘just love, and not in your own strength, but out of Me in you, and that only comes through intimacy, so come sit with me, and just breath!’