I love Seinfeld. When I was on bedrest 5 years ago, I filled time by playing Seinfeld trivia regularly on my phone. I got pretty (pretty, pretty) good. The repetition of the questions made the most intricate details form the show stick with me. For example, Jerry’s phone number is “KL5-8383.”
There is a scene in an episode that, I assume, wasn’t intended to apply to motherhood. And yet, when I heard this exchange, I couldn’t help but laugh because it was just so perfect. In this scene, Newman (Jerry’s nemesis) is asked what he does for work. Newman responds that he is a US postal worker. The question that follows is in regards to why postmen sometimes go crazy. While I cannot attest to the truthfulness of this assumption, the answer does resonates strongly with my life:
“Because the mail never stops. It just keeps coming and coming and coming, there’s never a let-up. It’s relentless. Every day it piles up more and more and more! And you gotta get it out but the more you get it out the more it keeps coming in. And then the bar code reader breaks and it’s Publisher’s Clearing House day!”
If you take that quote, remove the word “mail,” and substitute laundry, dishes, or well-meaning but repetitive toddler questions, you will find me.
The mail never stops.
The laundry never stops.
The dishes never stop.
If you are like me, it’s easy to fall victim to the fallacy that list-based productivity is the key to joy. Crossing something off my list feels so permanent, but the tasks are recurring. Even if I cross things off with pen, sealing the deal for today, they always reappear tomorrow.
I feel like if I can just get through THIS load of laundry, there will be no more laundry to do ever. If I can just finish THESE dishes, the dishes will stop. If I can just vacuum NOW, I will never have to vacuum again. And yet, when I examine my reasoning at this level, I am haunted by how I put earthy demands on the same level as my Kingdom blessings.
Raising kids is Kingdom work.
What if we took every task the presented itself in our day and put them into two buckets:
- These Things Do Not Bring Me Joy – dirty clothes, dirty dishes, dirty clothes.
- These Things Bring Me Joy – my daughter asking me to build blocks with her, my baby’s sticky hands reaching up to be held, my cat pawing to be scratched, my husband asking me to watch a rerun of a football game with him.
Let’s refuse to be shackled to the lie that the number of boxes checked equals the value we added to the day for the people we love. Let’s refuse to accept that, if something doesn’t get done today, we have failed. Logic tells us it will be there tomorrow.
There will always be more clothes to clean, more grimy dishes piling up, more ways to feel busy. Yet, we can feel busy and not really accomplish anything. Let’s resist the desire to be productive in terms that the world has defined. Let’s not willingly give away away moments that are so precious and delicate, they don’t come along every day.
The laundry never stops. The mail never stops. But if we are vigilant, when our soul needs rest the most, we will graciously accept a reason to put it off a little longer.
Photos of my family thanks to Jen Lauren Photography.