Living Life Unfinished



If I were organized, I’d be a killer list person.

Alas. If I manage to find a pen in my house (the child security locks on the office cupboard have long been hacked) and write out a few daily tasks, more often than not, I find myself staring at them at the end of the day, in all their bullet point glory, whole and uncrossed.

Let me tell you something. It’s tough to never, ever finish things.

The work ethic in my family is strong. My mom still wakes up at 5:00 am most days to exercise, shower, make breakfast, and tackle what needs to be done. My dad will run the combine at harvest time long into the cool fall nights. My husband will stick with a project for hours until it’s done, or he’s reached a finishing point.

Me, on the other hand? I move around my home in never-ending circles. Load more dishes in the dishwasher. Pick up the deflated socks that seem to be everywhere. Comb someone’s hair. Change the baby. Check the dryer.

Kitchen. Laundry room. Bathroom. Circle. Circle. Circle.

It’s work of the most frustrating kind. Things never, ever stay finished. As soon as the holy grail bottom of the laundry basket appears, someone throws another wrench in my Indiana Jones-like quest for clean clothes. Dishes get dirtied. Something spills and the floor has to be swept. The circle starts all over again.

I know it’s a phase, and that these days of my children being little are like the sunlight hours after daylight savings time: so very short. So I’ve been trying, trying to sit down in the middle of the chaos and be present. To be silly. To take *awesome* family pictures so I can remember life in this season. I’m learning to leave dishes in the sink. I don’t pick up toys every night. I can’t tell you the last time I deep cleaned anything


But somehow, it’s still not working. I still find myself a little on edge most days, wanting to recount just what it is I’m doing besides endlessly picking up gently browning apple cores left out from morning snack, and supervising cleanup of whatever catastrophe happened while I was nursing the baby last.

Last night at a family birthday party, my sister in law recounted the wonderful stuff she’s been up to lately. Then the tables turned on me. My mind went blank. What have I been doing? Um. *Scramble scramble scramble* I’m…reading a manuscript for a friend! Painting a bedroom! Teaching Ellis not to use an entire bottle of shampoo in one sitting! Making a small attempt at national novel writing month (#nanowrimo y’all!) with the goal of two chapters!

See my exclamation points? Isn’t that big? And exciting? Have I convinced myself I’m worth something because I made a list? Yes? Yes? Yes?


As much as I’ve always wanted to be the serenely-listening Mary in the new testament story when Jesus visits two sisters, deep down, I’ve always know I’m the Martha clanking away in the kitchen, furiously working the dishrag, trying to do all the things.

The things that could have waited.

Because they were just that. Things.

Jesus didn’t care about a clean counter or a swept-up floor. He wanted to be with his friends, Mary and Martha. Likewise, when my daughters come tromping down the stairs in the morning, they aren’t looking around going, Wow. I sure feel safe and secure at home because the house is picked up. Not a chance.

They’re looking for me.

Which means maybe I need to figure out a new approach. Maybe I need to stop measuring the value of my work by the things I’ve accomplished, and starting looking for more places to be available.

Maybe I need to listen to more Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros, because if home is wherever I’m with you, then the best things I can offer my family are my empty, waiting hands.

And maybe one of those creepy automatic vacuum robots.











4 thoughts on “Living Life Unfinished

  1. Augh! Preach it, sister! The goal is human ‘being’ not human ‘doing,’ right? I think no matter what your personality is, the fact that you are introspective and want to grow is so much more important than any external measurement of accomplishment! 🙂
    (Also, I’ve heard Roombas are awesome!!! How in the world did women make it through a day 100 years ago?? No washing machines, even? Ack!)


  2. Oh how I love this post! I also feel like I’m just running around in circles doing many things but never really completing anything. I do things half ways, and it drives me crazy, but there is so much to do.


  3. Suddenly, I’m not so alone. Here I am. 1:10am in the morning, brosing WordPress reader for something to read because my 2nd son (3 yrs old) demands to sleep on my chest than on the bed. To add icing to it, he wants me to sit down and not lie down while he’s trying to get his sleep. I’m so sleepy but I need to put him down the moment he sleepa because my 5 month old might wake up any time. 😂
    Like you, I’ve stopped dreaming a pristine house lately…to be there..but still, this supposes to be short phase is draining my energy and I’m thinking if I can even go to the next one. Haha thanks for the post. 🙂


    • Ugh, it’s so hard, right? Sometimes wanting to do our best means letting go and focusing first on what matters most. Hug that little one as he sleeps oh so happily on his mama’s chest. I know it feels like a long season, and I won’t tell you otherwise. I’ve weathered them too. Just hunker down, mama. You’ve got this.

      Liked by 1 person

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