Motherhood is made up of the mundane. Doing simple repetitive tasks, day after day, to provide a place of comfort, a place of refuge for those who are most important in your life is taxing. Talk to any wife and mother. If she is honest, she will tell you it is hard work. It is real work. It takes sacrifice and a lot of love, sweat, and tears to do the same things over and over again each day. But in the sacrificing we become more. President Thomas S. Monson taught,
“When we do the mundane, the mechanical, the repetitious patterns of our lives yield to the spiritual qualities, and we acquire a much-needed dimension which inspires our daily living” (Thomas S. Monson, Gifts, April 1993 General Conference).
These spiritual qualities are made manifest in the care we give to our families. In an article titled Mothers are not Wimps, Stephanie Nielson said,
Motherhood is natural. We know what we are doing. Deep within us we are born with a maternal instinct, and we carry traits of honesty, faith in God, duty, respect for others, kindness, self-confidence, and the desire to contribute and teach love to our children’s minds and hearts. We are kind and soft and brave and powerful (Nielson, Stephanie, Mothers are not Wimps, NieNie Dialogues via Deseret News (Nov. 10, 2014)).
Motherhood is mundane. Or rather, most of the tasks of motherhood are mundane. So why do we keep going? Why do we keep doing what we are doing? We are teaching our children, showing our husbands that they are valued, they are worth it. At the end of a long day at work or school where do people long to be? Still at work, or stuck in a car in traffic, or sleeping in a hotel? No! The place that beacons them is home. Home, where someone is waiting for them with eagerness. Home, where the mundane brings comfort and reassurance.
Sometimes, I admit, it gets hard to mop a floor knowing it will just be sticky an hour later. Folding the never-ending pile of laundry – wait, did I say folding? It needs to be washed first! Making more towels dirty cleaning up the house just doesn’t sound right does it? Add to that the day-in and day-out tasks of cooking meals, bathing children, changing diapers, driving carpools, reading bedtime stories, why, it is a never ending cycle! You know what else is never ending? The sun always rises in the morning and sets in the evening, but the sunrise and sunset never look the same. The seasons, too, cycle round and round but even in their constancy there is change. God, who is a God of order, is also a God of beauty. And there is beauty in the every day, never changing caring for my family.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson taught this truth as he recalled a young mother he knew while he lived in Mexico, “The demands on her were many and her tasks often repetitive and mundane, yet underneath it all was a beautiful serenity, a sense of being about God’s work. As with the Savior, she was ennobled by blessing others through service and sacrifice. She was love personified” (D. Todd Christofferson, The Moral Force of Women, October 2013 General Conference).
Families are central to God’s plan for His children. We are born into families. It is where we learn how to love, forgive, share, work, and a whole myriad of other things. As mothers one of our primary responsibilities is to make our homes a haven for our families. It is our work in God’s plan for His children. I am sure you have read this quote attributed to C.S. Lewis, ““The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only – and that is to support the ultimate career.” It is very enlightening to read what he actually said. He was writing a letter to a Mrs. Johnson,
“I think I can understand that feeling about a housewife’s work being like that of Sisyphus (who was the stone rolling gentleman). But it is surely in reality the most important work in the world. What do ships, railways, miners, cars, government etc exist for except that people may be fed, warmed, and safe in their own homes? As Dr. Johnson said, “To be happy at home is the end of all human endeavour”. (1st to be happy to prepare for being happy in our own real home hereafter: 2nd in the meantime to be happy in our houses.) We wage war in order to have peace, we work in order to have leisure, we produce food in order to eat it. So your job is the one for which all others exist. . .” (The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 3).
I love the full quote even more because it explains why homes and our work in them are so important. Everything else on earth exists to make homes and families more comfortable and able to function to their fullest extent. At the turn of the century just over 14 years ago essayist Richard Rodriguez wrote about events in history and observed,
America sent its young men to fight in history’s battles. They fought bravely and well. And though they came very close to seeing the face of history, many soldiers returned famished, they said — not for a hero’s parade of tape and confetti — but famished for the mundane: a hot dog or the barefoot pleasure of washing the car on Saturday morning (Richard Rodriguez’s Essay: A Tale of Time, PBS Newshour, Dec. 30, 1999).
“So often, our acts of service consist of simple encouragement or of giving mundane help with mundane tasks, but what glorious consequences can flow from mundane acts and from small but deliberate deeds!” (President Spencer W. Kimball, Small Acts of Service, Ensign (Dec. 1974)).
Oh yes, motherhood is mundane, gloriously so!
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