We always told our parents we wanted them to live with us when the time came that they needed help. Jim’s mom resisted that for a long time. She finally capitulated after enjoying a wonderful ocean vacation with us, only to realize she would have to go back to living alone. We added an in-law addition to our house, and she lived with us until she passed away. Now we are blessed to have my parents living in the apartment. Just as children cause us to “die to ourselves,” so does helping one’s elderly parents cause a certain amount of “death.” To meet the needs of another, you have to lay down some of your own wants and desires.
Arghhhh! What an interruption to my life! This was a frequent thought I had when we moved my parents to Spokane and were getting them settled. That meant getting them established with new doctors, paying their bills, figuring out their prescriptions, and buying their groceries. Then one day I realized this: These things are not an interruption to life. These things are life! Meeting my parent’s needs is just as important as anything else I could do. It totally changed everything to have that perspective.
The same is true of mothering. It’s so easy to think of the daily tasks of motherhood as getting in the way of the real life I could be living. Changing diapers, doing laundry, making meals, shopping for groceries, driving kids to lessons, taking care of sick kids, cleaning house—in the midst of those things it’s easy to think, I can’t wait until this season of my life is over so I can get on with what’s really important. That is a lie of the enemy! The life you are living right now is real life. It is valuable and important in the plans and purposes of God in the earth.
The enemy tries to get us to believe that any work “out there” is more important than what we are doing at home. What you are doing at home, dear mother, is essential for the health and prosperity of the church and society. Society and the church are only as healthy and strong as the foundational building block of the family and home—of which you are in charge. This foundation has been destroyed. You are helping rebuild it. Everything you do in relation to that is crucial work.
I shared some similar stories in my first blog, but I think the following point bears repeating. Firemen are often the first-responders to reach people who are in a medical emergency or accident. Sean, a former fireman friend of ours, encountered many people in these situations over the course of his job. When people know they are near (or possibly near) death, the words that come out of their mouths are eye-opening and educational. Sean never heard someone ask about their investments or bank accounts. No one ever bemoaned the fact that they didn’t have a bigger house or more important career. Instead, what came out of their mouths were statements like these: “Get my family.” “I want to see my husband and children.” Some have even said this: “I wish I had had more children.” “I wish I had spent more time with my children.” Facing death has a way of bringing life’s important issues to the forefront.
In the end, nothing “out there” will be that important. Looking back, you will not regret the years you spent with your children. You will realize that you were living real life as you met the needs of your children and husband.
Keep on, dear mother. You are doing important work!