Family photo 2013

Family photo 2013

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What I wouldn't give for one of those....

In Evangelical homeschooling circles, long have I heard Susanna Wesley lauded for her remarkable impact not only on her children, most notably sons John and Charles, but for her mark on Christianity during the 1700s. Unquestionably a progressive and bold woman for her time, she is said to be the "mother of Methodism."

As I've raised and educated my own children, the thought of Susanna and the nineteen, (yes 19!) children she bore has often crossed my mind. I too would like to my life to speak volumes. Why is it I often fall short of the ideals I hold that are so easily articulated while my kids are fast asleep then get thrown out the window the moment they begin bickering over their breakfast cereal? How was she able to conduct her limited time in such a way to leave such a noteworthy legacy? It wasn't until I read her biography myself that I realized one very key point.

She had servants.


People to assist her with the daily responsibilities of raising children and keeping a home and preparing food, enabling her to spend more of her time, energy, thought, and focus on the deep spiritual matters she wanted to impart to her sons and daughters, and others as the opportunity arose.

Her babies were even cared for at night by their maids. (What mothers of infants would give for an occasional night of interrupted sleep while the baby is cared for by another!)

Shifting gears, I remember vividly one evening before we left for Ethiopia sitting in front of the computer with my husband, watching a youtube video highlighting the ministry of the people who run the guest house in which we would be staying. Full of philanthropic spirit at that time, I was deeply moved and inspired by the founder of this ministry, who was a woman with four children. I admired her passionate goodwill and commitment to increasing the quality of life for others. Subsequently, I wondered where she found the time to conduct such extraordinary work which literally aids thousands of people, enabling hundreds of children to stay in their extended families rather than be placed for adoption? How doe she do that?

It was when I went to Ethiopia and saw her life, face to face, that I understood. Proudly, while sitting in her living room, she uttered these words to me "I'm not busy," which dropped my jaw. (Conversing with her that day, it was definitely my understanding that being "busy" does not hold the same perceived, inherent value there that it does here. I certainly can not speak for the Ethiopian culture as a whole after my one week stint there, but I will say that to this businesswoman in that moment, it seemed that busyness was not viewed as an indicator of importance.)

Want to know how she could make such a claim about not being busy while overseeing a guest house, a feeding program, an orphanage, and a family preservation ministry? You guessed it. She had servants. Wonderful, kind hearted, capable, generous, beautiful, servants whom I later had the pleasure of meeting and falling in love with. How I wished at the end of our stay that I could take one of them home with me!

Probably not unlike you, my life feels anything but "not busy." From morning until night I am constantly negotiating unrelenting demands on my time, my energy, my thoughts. Caring for each of my children who are ever with me, while maintaining a home, keeping the family's budget, planning and preparing frugal yet nutritious meals and snacks, washing the clothes, cleaning the home, entertaining the guests, advising the issues, overseeing the chores, teaching the school, mentoring character/moral development, not to mention the plethora of other tasks I don't have time or space to mention, keeps me very, very busy. Doing my best to ensure that each individual child's needs are met - emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically, developmentally, while working to be a thoughtful and encouraging wife who is pleasant to dwell with, and finding ways to fill my own personal cup as a woman, and a friend, as a person who has needs of her own, is a full time job. This is no small feat. There are many balls to juggle.

I have no servants.

This is not to take anything away from either of these two outstanding, trailblazing women who have left and are leaving an indelible mark on the world. Not at all.

It is simply to say that when I really stop to look at things, I alone am doing work that could occupy the schedules of several. It's a lot to handle. There is no wonder I grow weary - fall short of my ideals - keenly feel stress - become acutely aware of my own limitations.

Yet, morning by morning I wake up and give it another go, doing the best I can to grab hold of my immense responsibility, to guide those around me to the utmost of my ability. Which is completely, utterly, unequivocally, enough.

I am but a servant.

The babies


Anonymous said...

You do an amazing job. Our lives are full and blessed. You do hold the responsibility of the family's needs, and there are A LOT of them. I appreciate all of your hard work and sacrifice. Without you, we would all be SERVED a HUGE heartache!!!!!


Jennifer Isaac said...

BEAUTIFUL post Tisha! It reminds me of the (forgive me) pinterest quote floating around that says something like we are too often comparing our everyday to someone else's "picture perfect" presentation of themselves. Mothering is hard, hard work - I used to tell my husband that at least I know if I die anytime soon, I will die TIRED, and that's a good way to go! ; )

Barry said...

Great article Tish!
It's interesting, when I was in the Dominican Republic many of the well to do (comparatively) people had a live in "servant". They were usually older kids who were using it as a way to provide for college. They were given a small stipend and room and board in a small apartment with the family and did the everyday chores. We were staying with a professor and it was his way to help provide kids with and education with the little he had. It was actually a really cool way to provide for everyone involved. I always thought it'd be an interesting model for our culture to attempt. But, I don't think that will ever happen. Anyway, I know that wasn't exactly what you were talking about but it got me thinking.

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