Snow Globe: The Hidden Beauty of Household Chaos

On dreary winter days, the irksomeness of daily picking-up is enough to make you wonder, "Is this what I went to college (or gave up my career) for?"
by Daria Sockey | Source:
Our home suffers from a chronic condition a colleague of mine terms "the snow-globe effect." It looks as if a curious giant came along, picked up the house, shook it gently, and put it down again. Like the flakes of glitter in a snow globe, items such as toys, shoes, socks (lots of these), cups, sweaters, school papers, and books seem to have settled randomly all over the house.

I could start barking out orders and get the place tidy from top to bottom, but within hours the giant returns - it must be while I´m sleeping or out on errands - and shakes the house again.

This can be discouraging. When a woman chooses the vocation of wife and mother, she dreams of warm, nurturing tasks that draw on her heart and her talents. Playing with the little ones, teaching them to pray, preparing the special meals her husband loves, creating a home atmosphere of comfort and beauty, and being a sympathetic counselor to spouse and children alike - that´s the job description I signed up for. This other stuff - picking up dirty socks and stubbing my toes on Legos - must have been somewhere in the fine print.

Feeling Dispirited

On dreary winter days, the irksomeness of daily picking-up is enough to make you wonder, "Is this what I went to college (or gave up my career) for?" This must be recognized for the temptation that it is. But how do we find meaning in menial tasks and keep them from driving us crazy?A friend says that when her housework gets tiresome, she tries to imagine the joy and humility with which Mary cooked and cleaned for St. Joseph and the Child Jesus‹her tasks were just as dull and routine as ours. Someone might point out that Our Lady´s work had more significance than ours because she
was keeping house for God Himself. But so are we.

Even the most tedious chores can be done with a willing heart, and thus be transformed into "something beautiful for God," as Mother Teresa used to say. Christ gave his life for me: with each task that is done with love, not resentment, I can imitate Him by giving little bits of my life, moment by moment, for my family. We can rejoice in every detail of housekeeping, remembering that "As often as you do it for one of these Š you do it for Me." (Matt. 26: 40)

When we find ourselves attracted to a painting at an art museum, we usually look at it first from a distance, then step up close, and finally step back once more. The close-up view often reduces the painting to a mass of many brushstrokes, each of which is uninteresting in itself. But these thousand little dabs of paint, viewed as a whole, yield a thing of beauty. This load of laundry, that drink poured for a toddler, this little nose wiped, and that batch of cookies all contribute, one stroke at a time, to that incredibly lovely portrait: a happy family. That family may not notice each little brushstroke as it´s made. But they can see the picture.

Each of my three teen-agers did the same thing upon reaching a certain age and becoming more reflective. Out of the blue, while nothing particularly wonderful was going on, each child said something like this: "I really like our family! Everyone is SO cool. No other family is just like ours."

Your Masterpiece

Comments like these‹and surely they are made in many families‹spring from a deep contentment and sense of security that wouldn´t be there unless Mom had been there, day in and day out, taking care of a million little things. It´s hard to keep a snow globe in order. But as you stand back and look at your little world, snug and secure, glowing in reflected light, the effect is splendid. Be of good cheer, wives and mothers, as you work on your masterpiece.

Daria Sockey, mother of seven, is a freelance author based in Bethlehem, Pa.

Reprinted with permission from Faith & Family, the Magazine of Catholic Living. All rights reserved.

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