Being a mom calls for many sacrifices. Giving birth, years of sleepless nights, sitting on the soccer sidelines in the freezing rain as well as the blistering heat. So much of your life is given over to the health and well-being of others that your free time becomes precious. I pity the child who calls down for a glass of water when I have “punched my time clock” and crashed in front of the TV for a little Netflix action. And despite the fact that I am the adult and the one who is supposed to know all about dying to self, it still takes a serious act of self-discipline to let the kids watch “American’s Funniest Home Videos” when I want to watch “Masterpiece Classics.” (I actually forced the boys to watch Sense and Sensibility with me a while back. Highlight of the experience? Sam passionately declaring “If Willoughby turns out to be a bad guy, I am going to be so mad!”) No one ever told me that parenthood would require laying down my leisurely pursuits along with all the more anticipated sacrifices. The worst part is that not only do my kids want to watch their shows but they want me to watch with them.
This also goes for whatever books they are reading. Silly me, I thought that once most of them were reading on their own, my time with books well below my reading level was over. So I have read books about the offspring of the Greek gods, books about the adventures of children in underground worlds, books about a world full of wizards and witches (okay, Harry Potter is awesome. I just didn’t need to read the series three times.) When I suggest books that I liked as a kid, all I get is blank stares and polite silence. But a few weeks ago, I caught a break when Bailey’s class was assigned Farmer Boy for book club. The Laura Ingalls Wilder books are everything I love rolled into one: farm life, history, moral lessons and amusing antidotes about childhood that magically capture life from a child’s perspective without a hint of condescension. I have tried for years to get the kids to read one of these books and now here was my chance. I loved the book so much I broke the cardinal rule of book club: No reading ahead. Sorry Bailey.
One can’t read Farmer Boy without being struck by how hard the Wilder family works to provide for themselves. Basically, the majority of the book is taken up with detailed descriptions of how they grew their food, how they made their clothes, etc. And I couldn’t get enough of it. They seemed so full of purpose and directions. I found myself longing to be transported into their world, a world in which there seemed little room for ambiguity.
While I still have dreams of owning chickens and livestock, the reality is that I am town folk, at least for now. But someday, even if I have to die to get there, I will get my little farmhouse. I will work all day and enjoy the fruits of my labor. Everything I do will have purpose and meaning. Only in this reality I won’t have to put up with the lack of indoor plumbing or stay up late worrying if the corn crop is going to freeze.
As strange as it might sound, I long for a Heaven of work, not rest. The white-cloud-and-harp Heaven is for the birds. I want a Heaven in which we can work but never tire, a heaven free of sickness and anxiety but full of chores to be done. So much of what wears me out in this world isn’t the work itself but rather my uncertainty regarding the meaningfulness of that work. I long to be in the presence of my Creator so that I might receive clearly and from His owns lips, my to-do list for the day, or possibly my to-do list for the next thousand years. Either way, when I pass through those pearly gates I will be ready to roll up my sleeves and dirty my hands with the soil of Heaven. Maybe that sounds more like Hell to you but to me it’s sounds like Paradise.