Last Friday afternoon, I texted my husband.
There needs to be two of me: one to play with and work with the children and one to take care of the laundry and food and the house.
That doesn’t even take into account which one would care for homeschooling the boys or prepping notes for podcast episodes or preparing to lead a Bible study.
It’s a common feeling, among humans with responsibilities and families and a desire to live for eternity, that there is always more work to do than time to do it. I text with friends about it. I moan over prioritizing my own demands. And over the weekend, a woman asked me how I balanced mothering four kids and taking care of the life stuff: the house, the laundry, etc.
Often when people ask me questions, I’m struggling with the same thing. I think it’s constantly choosing what’s next, what’s most important, and what you need to do versus what someone else can help you do.
However, the whole thing hinges on mindset.
There’s a phrase that’s floated around my brain for a couple of years that shapes a lot of what I do (as long as I remember it anyway). Our home is a greenhouse, not a museum.
Greenhouses don’t exist for your comfort. They’re a little too hot; you sweat just walking around. Bees dive at your head and you spot a trail of tiny ants conquering a table leg. Birds squawk from rooftop corners and water puddles on the ground. There’s dirt: dirt in the pots, dirt on the floor, dirt on your shoes, dirt under your fingernails. But everything there is growing. The whole intent of the space is for the things within it to flourish.
Museums, on the other hand, are carefully climate-controlled. Your shoes echo on tiled floors and calm voices repeat stories of lives that have already happened. The environment is pristine; all dust and dirt is fastidiously removed. People are paid to tell you when to move to the next room, not to touch anything, and to keep your voice down. The whole intent of that space is to impress people, to show off some part of life.
I can choose to make my life- and our home- a greenhouse or a museum. I can try to show off, impress people and keep everything spotless. Or I can make a space for people to flourish, even if a little dirt ends up on the floor.
I’m big on endgames apparently. If you don’t know where you want to go, how do you steer? Do you shuffle off aimlessly in a direction that looks easy? Yesterday, in Sunday school, I mentioned to our college students that if we don’t understand that this life isn’t the real one, that there’s more than what we see here, how do we know how to live now? We don’t.
I want to be a greenhouse. Maybe it’s too hot, maybe there are bees and ants and dirt on the floor. Maybe it’s a lot of work and I’m tired when the sun goes down. But I want things to grow. I want to grow. I want to a person that other people flourish around because I speak life and put others first and do all to edify and encourage others.
I want our home to be a greenhouse. I want our children to flourish and grow. We are shaping the world that they inhabit for most of the day and I want to feel the weight of that. Sometimes that means I teach them to do the laundry. (Our oldest folds towels now and I am here for that.) Sometimes it means we pile on the couch to read stories or go outside to play in the sprinkler.
All I know is my goal with my life, with this home, can’t be to show off or impress people or be spotless. Nothing grows there. And if we aren’t growing, I have to ask, are we as good as dead?