After picking my daughter up from preschool a few weeks ago, she immediately asked, “Where are we going today, mom?” I informed her we had no big plans that day and were just going home.
And then she said this: “Oh man. Home? It’s so messy. I hate being there.”
The Emergency Room doctor admitted he had never seen a knife stabbed so far into a mother’s heart before.
But seriously — Ouch. Every mother hopes her home is a place her children and husband want to be, not one they avoid.
So my house is not exactly spick and span. Ok, it’s not even in the same universe as spick and span. But I didn’t realize the mess was making our home an undesirable place to be. Something had to change and it had to be a bigger than just another goal to clean up every night or not let the dishes tower in the sink.
Then, I found part of my problem in a story I’ve heard since I was young: the story of Mary and Martha in the Bible. Basically, it goes like this: Jesus comes to visit. Martha is running around doing chores and making dinner while Mary sits at Jesus’ feet to listen. Martha says, “Seriously? You’re not going to help me?” and Jesus tells her that Mary has made the better choice in listening to his words.
I’ve always interpreted that story as meaning people are more important than tasks. House work and cooking and cleaning should always come second to my friends and family. Essentially, I always prioritize having fun with my kids above keeping the house clean. If we have a choice between doing dishes and going to the park, we choose the park every time.
I thought I was making the right choices – the Mary choices.
But I think I missed the nuance in this important Bible story. I don’t think Jesus was trying to say that Martha was wrong for cleaning or cooking or whatever she was doing. He was saying it was the wrong time for those things.
It’s not about being less Martha and more Mary, it’s about being both Martha and Mary at the right moments.
So in the past few weeks I have been trying to balance my Martha and Mary sides. We clean up when we need to, and then we play. We still have fun, but we also make time for Saturday chores.
In doing so, amazing things have happened at my house. I discovered my children love window washing and we enjoy cleaning together. Somehow we found we had more time for fun when the house was cleaner. We are able to roll around on the floor when Daddy comes home because the floor is actually clean.
And the most important change is that there is a better spirit in our house. It’s a place I — and hopefully my children — are proud to call home.
I know that if Jesus came knocking on my door now, I would be able to sit and listen at his feet rather than clearing off a spot on the couch or trying to hide the dirty dishes.
How funny that becoming a little more like Martha has freed me up to be a lot more Mary.
Are you a Mary or a Martha by nature? How do you balance keeping an orderly house with having family fun?