My bare soles felt the hardwood floors under my feet and my hands poured over the third load of laundry for the day. My son played in the family room and my daughter had three rows of dining room chairs lined up in the office. I watched her drive a minivan full of Disney Princesses to Target in her imagination, buckling each princess into their seats with fingertips still covered in dust from the orange Cheetos she had with her lunch.
Easily, I saw myself playing there in the office. My parents had a walk-in closet in their master bedroom. As a child, I would take my dolls into that space and line them up, drive them somewhere while Joey McIntyre—my pretend husband—rode beside me in the front seat. In this childhood memory, I can see my mom too. She was full of life, and she was fully present.
For a moment my grief returned as I thought of her—my grief doesn’t have the sharp, painful edges it once had before. The edges have now softened with the grace of time and the transforming heart-work of the Holy Spirit. It has been loosened from anger, and the weight of the sadness now feels smooth and clean like the freshly laundered bed sheet I held in my hands.
My son came to me as I poured over the laundry and pestered around me. As I folded, I was stirred to think of the kind of mother I want to be, and what my mother would do in this moment if she had just one more day with us. I thought too about what I would want to do if this was my last day. I would not want to be buried in the never-ending-task-list of making the house look just so—and I am pretty sure this is not how my mother would want to spend her time either if she was given just one more day to soak up childhood imagination and Cheeto-fingered hugs. I believe she would want to dwell in the moments with us, lingering, for as long as she was able.
My thoughts turned from past to present and I thought about the ministry I have to these children in my home—the privilege of being the one to fill their buckets and care for their hearts. I thought about how Jesus was with those he came to minister to, how he dwelt among them, reclined at their table; Jesus loved by showing up and being fully present.
A lifetime from now, I want my kids to remember me as a mother who was with them—a mother who was fully present—a mother that showed up physically, spiritually, and emotionally. It is a battle to lay down the idea of a perfectly-kept home; the old must unravel away before I can embrace that an unfolded pile of laundered clothes is evidence of a life lived alongside my kids. I must be renewed in the spirit of my mind to see the undone housework as the healthy fruit of a life lived showing up and dwelling among the ones God has given me to care for during these all too fleeting days of motherhood.
Reminded of what my mother would do if she had just one more day, I walked the half-folded laundry upstairs and sat with my son who was pestering around me. I placed him in my lap and felt the weight of how much he has grown. It is difficult for me to gather him up, but for a time, he allowed me to hold him. Then I went to my daughter and she allowed me to hold her too. I dwelt with her and her Cheeto-fingers for a few minutes as she melted into my lap. I thought about my mom and believed it is what she would do if she had one more day. I thought about how Jesus knew the number of his days and how he spent them dwelling among people, the people he loved so much, and would love enough to give his life for.
Oh, how connection is so needed! Connection is so much more integral to the whole-children I want to raise up in the Lord—more important than children who remember how clean the house was or my fussing over neat piles of clean laundry. We are all thirsting for just a few moments to dwell among those we love and melt into them. How we all just want someone to sit with us and hold us.
I want to walk in a life that produces the fruit of remembering what my mother would tell me to do if she just had one more day: be fully present and full of life. I want to show up and dwell in the ministry of motherhood I have sitting right in my lap, and one day, I hope it is more natural for me to dwell than it is to pour over the task-list of keeping the house just so. I hope my children remember piles of half-folded laundry and a mother who dwelt among the childhood imaginations and Cheeto-fingered hugs. I desire to be a mother who is present with the ministry God has put right in my lap.
About the Author:
Rachel Craddock is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University (05’ B.A. Education) and a first-grade teacher at heart. Rachel has been in the PCA since she became a Christian through the ministry of Campus Outreach during her time at Eastern Kentucky University. She has served in children’s, youth, and women’s ministries in the local churches she has attended over the years. Rachel currently serves as the Women’s Ministry Coordinator at North Cincinnati Community Church and is a writer and speaker. She writes on her blog and speaks at women’s events and retreats out of a desire to encourage women in a relatable way to practically apply the gospel to their daily lives.
When not busy serving in her community as a substitute teacher in the public schools or parenting her four fun children Ezra (9), Asher (8), Caleb (6), and Lydia Jane (4), Rachel enjoys reading, dark roast coffee, trail running, traveling, date nights, and blogging. She and her family are members of North Cincinnati Community Church in Mason, Ohio where her husband serves as lead pastor. You can connect with Rachel on Facebook, Twitter or on her blog, rachelcraddock.com.