Friday, March 14, 2008

"The Mummy Thing"

I know that many of us declare we'd love to impact the world for good. But like 1000s of other women at home, sometimes our work doesn't seem to cut it. Tidying endless messes, mopping sticky floors, wiping toothpaste smears off mirrors, hanging up clothes, loading dishwashers and reading story books takes so much time and effort but doesn't seem to scratch the surface of the world's needs. In fact, it doesn't seem to do a scrap of good to anyone but us.

What's more, the world often scoffs at it, calling it "The Mummy Thing" and not in a nice, warm manner. Even, "You're worth more than this," and "Your education is wasted" scoffs at the lifestyle of the stay-at-home mum. I've felt it. Sometimes I walk into a shop with the kids and don't seem to be taken seriously by the staff, whereas if I enter the same shop on my own, they all seem more polite. It's easy to feel trivialised.

However, I think it's one of those paradoxical things where each faithful woman's individual efforts meld together to create something huge! Just think, if we all packed up to join the paid workforce full-time, the whole framework of society would collapse. Small children would not be getting the nourishing, tactile reinforcement they need so much to form their own healthy identities. Homes would be haphazard drop-off centres rather the peaceful havens for the heart we can make them. If we stopped doing our "mummy things" results could be catastrophic.

Maybe the illusion that our work isn't touching the heart of the world is because it IS the heart of the world. It's similar to the analogy that the fish cannot see the ocean because of all the water that surrounds him. When we're looking out from the centre of something, we don't seem to have such a great view. Our work can have its repetitive and tedious moments, as we all know well, but so does the work of the physical heart, with one beat after the next, day after day and year after year.

The woman's work on behalf of her home and family is like the heart's work on behalf of the body. It isn't generally seen by the human eye and admired, yet it is the part the upholds all the "showy" bits we do present to the world. Maybe we pray, "Please help me find a way to impact the world," and then get frustrated because our prayer doesn't seem to be getting answered. But maybe it doesn't occur to us often enough that the reason it doesn't seem to be getting answered is because we already are doing our part and more than pulling our weight without even knowing it. Next time I have a sticky spill to clean up, I'll try to remind myself that by getting down on my hands & knees on my own kitchen floor, I really am impacting the world.


  1. Amen!

    How very true and eloquently stated!

    I'm still working on the "making our home a haven" thing. I guess love doesn't have to be neat and tidy to be felt. I hug my kids throughout the day, listen to them, read to them, feed them, teach them. I asked them last week which they'd prefer - a perfectly neat home or my attention. You can guess which they chose. Todd would not agree. He's allowed his opinion.

    Thanks for the reassurance that I AM doing my part to make the world a better place.

    Enjoy the weekend!

  2. Perhaps part of the problem is that we don't consider these little things as praiseworthy as a career that impacts the world at large. We can't all be a Mother Theresa or a Gandhi, but we can do these things on the small scale of our household or neighborhood. Think of it as throwing coins in a jar. Eventually these little things add up.

    Excellent post Paula!
    Peace and Laughter,

  3. Great post!! One I needed today!
    Tara B