The Simple Pleasures of Home

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by Montserrat {Chocolate on my Cranium}

{image by Chiot’s Run}

His hand grips the glass of cool, creamy milk. It’s downed after three chocolate chip cookies, still warm from the oven. “Thanks,” he pecks my cheek on the way out the door, “I knew you’d have something.”  I watch him walk out, a dusty John Deere hat in hand, tired rings under his eyes. He’s been up since 3am baling hay, then hauling it in the warm morning air. No breakfast, only a short break for lunch, too much to do when other fields are ready to be swathed, still more to be raked, and those already stripped of this crop’s yield need to be watered, pivots sprinkling dew from above. He’d been driving by and stopped for a quick snack and the feel of crisp air-conditioned air on his sweaty brow.

As I rotate the laundry, replace books on the bookshelf (taken down by the baby who enjoyed watching them cascade to the floor), sweep the kitchen floor for the fourth time – those words ring in my ear the rest of the afternoon, “I knew you’d have something.” And yet again I am reminded: what I do here, over and over and over again matters. It is simple and mundane. Boring even. But to him, the love of my life, and to our nine children, it matters.

“His house was perfect, whether you liked food, or sleep, or work, or story-telling, or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all. Evil things did not come into that valley.

“I wish I had time to tell you even a few of the tales or one or two of the songs they heard in that house. All of them. . . grew refreshed and strong in a few days there. Their clothes were mended as well as their bruises, their tempers, and their hopes. Their bags filled with provisions light to carry but strong to bring them over the mountain passes. Their plans were improved with the best advice.” (J.R.R. Tolkein, The Hobbit, 61)

I’ve always loved this description of Elrond’s house from Tolkein’s book, The Hobbit. It conjures up the image of what a home should be – a place to sleep, work, eat, sing, rest, where physical and emotional ailments are mended, where evil does not come.

Homemaking is just that, the making of a home. It is mainly a woman’s responsibility. We are naturally endowed with divine attributes of sensitivity, nurturing, caring, and creating. Our task is to create an environment where our family members feel safe, loved, nurtured. It should be a place with simple beauty that is conducive to the Lord’s Spirit for that is, after all, where we are trying to lead our family, isn’t it, back to Him?

{image by Montserrat}

Homemaking is done in the simplest of gestures, in what most would label the commonplace tasks of life. Yet, who isn’t refreshed by clean sheets, a vase of flowers gracing the table, warm bread from the oven, or words read from the scriptures?

Many today view homemaking as a drudgery. This image of a wife unhappily slaving away at home has been perpetuated by media and the culture around us. Girls are constantly bombarded with the messages that they can’t possibly feel fulfilled or successful in the home. I have seven daughters and these worldly messages being thrown at them worry me. As a mother who truly does feel fulfilled and successful being at home I am trying to counter those messages by my example and attitude.

Does this mean it is all sunshine and roses? No! Roses have thorns and the sun gets hot. It is hard to keep up with laundry for eleven people, let alone make sure they are fed. There are times when I feel like throwing my hands up to the sky screaming for relief from the raining worries and endless demands.

“Do not be deceived in your quest to find happiness and an identity of your own. Entreating voices may tell you that what you have seen your mothers and grandmothers do is old-fashioned, unchallenging, boring, and drudgery. It may have been old-fashioned and perhaps routine; at times it was drudgery. But your mothers and grandmothers have sung a song that expressed the highest love and the noblest of womanly feelings. They have been our nurturers and our teachers. They have sanctified the work, transforming drudgery into the noblest enterprises.

Homemaking is whatever you make of it. Every day brings satisfaction along with some work which may be frustrating, routine, and unchallenging. But it is the same in the law office, the dispensary, the laboratory, or the store. There is, however, no more important job than homemaking. As C. S. Lewis said, “A housewife’s work … is the one for which all others exist.”(James E. Faust, How Near to the Angels, April 1998)

There is reassurance and comfort for the whole family when the time has been taken for the simple everyday tasks to be done. Yes, they are mundane but when the proper perspective is kept, they become a beautiful act of service. When my days are rough and my perspective seems to be focused on the dried bits of ramen stuck to the table I love to read this portion of a BYU Women’s Conference talk given over a decade ago :

Almost two thousand years ago, in a tender and telling New Testament story, the Savior taught us of the magical nature of home as he created for His disciples an impromptu refuge on an obscure shore. This very familiar story takes place at that critical period when the disciples experienced not only the unprecedented agony of Gethsemane and the betrayal and crucifixion but the unspeakable joy of embracing the resurrected Lord.

What happens now? seems to have been the pervasive atmosphere of their world. A little lost, they returned to the pursuits and prospects they had left, without a backward glance, three years before. “Peter saith unto them, I go fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing” (John 21:3).

Imagine the weariness and discouragement of men whose arms have cast and recast nets, only to draw them back empty again and again. Famished and exhausted, they headed back towards shore. “But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, . . .and did cast himself into the sea. And the other disciples came in a little ship, . . .dragging the net with fishes. As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. . . Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. . . Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.” (John 21:4-9, 12-13)

While the disciples were struggling and striving, wavering between hope and despair, the Savior of the world was creating a little, temporary home for them – a place where they could be refreshed and renewed, and later instructed. It was a home first and foremost because he was there. It was a home, too, because like a loving wife or mother, he was considering their needs and pleasures, their comforts and joys- and meting his services to their heartaches and yearnings.

The meal the Savior prepared for His disciples was a simple one. Have you ever wondered at that? This was, after all, the resurrected Lord. He could have produced any food from any corner of the planet and from any period of time. It could have been pate, peach cobbler or pressed duck. Instead, the risen Christ – with hands bearing our wounds – prepared a sweet, simple, familiar meal for his weary followers. And it is upon the simplicity of that meal that I would like to focus particularly. For the Lord was celebrating something we seem to avoid in our culture; he was celebrating the mundane, the repetitive, the ritual. (Nancy Young, “Who Sweeps a Room,” BYU Women’s Conference 2000, emphasis added by me)

If doing the “mundane,” making a home for loved ones, is good enough for the Savior, it is certainly good enough for me! Yes, there are many, many days where I feel my efforts go unnoticed. In the end, though, I know my family feels of my love for them, that “I’ll have something for them.” That makes it all worthwhile.

What keeps you going when you feel like giving up on your parental tasks? How do you keep the proper perspective? And, just for fun, what ‘makes’ home for you? {For me, it’s a cup of hot cocoa and my children giggling in delight by one of their father’s stories}

About Montserrat {Chocolate on my Cranium}

Montserrat enjoys classical music, playing the piano, reading biographies, eating gourmet chocolate, and playing a good game of Scrabble. A farmer's wife and mother of nine, she thinks spending time with her family is truly heaven on earth!

11 Responses to The Simple Pleasures of Home

  1. While not a “natural” homemaker (but one who has a testimony of its meaning and purpose), I’ve loved this quote about Mary and Martha’s home: “It was a welcome place for the Master, where He could rest and enjoy the surroundings of a righteous home.” -Elder Gregory A. Schwitzer
    I try to think of that often and realize that’s my ultimate goal.

  2. Becca says:

    Your post and Stephanie’s comment taken together reminded me of this article I read today about how there is a gene in our brain that controls maternal instinct, and if it is suppressed it can cause us to be less “maternal”. (they are calling it the “mom” gene) One argument is that women whose “mom” gene is suppressed aren’t supposed to have children/raise families (sounds familiar, eh? like the argument that people who are naturally sexually attracted to the same gender should marry someone of the same gender – next there will be a gene that means you shouldn’t get married at all, one that means you should have sex with multiple partners, etc etc…)

    There are definitely women (like Montserrat) who obviously have a robust “mom” gene, and there are also women like Stephanie, for whom “mom” doesn’t come as naturally – but the point is that you both have the same testimony of the divinity of motherhood, and the purpose that mothers play in God’s plan, and you live that testimony, the way that fits best with your individuality and unique needs – but you are both living your testimony, and you are an encouragement to me (for whom maternal care comes naturally, but the testimony comes a little less naturally).

    • Mothering has not come naturally for me. Some people think it has because I have nine {soon to be 10} children. I never played with dolls growing up and hated babysitting.

      I definitely do have a testimony of motherhood. It has come line upon line as I accepted God’s will for me and my family.

  3. Paul says:

    Love this post. My lovely wife and I were talking about this subject last night. I did not have words to tell her the value of her contribution to our family these many, many years. You have helped me to find some. Thanks for that.

  4. What a pleasant and restorative post to read on a hectic Friday afternoon. Thank you.

  5. Ray says:

    I absolutely love this post and agree with it completely – with one point that is important to me and that I feel I need to make:

    “We are naturally endowed with divine attributes of sensitivity, nurturing, caring, and creating.”

    I believe “we” are, but I believe “we” can be a man or a woman. I try to be very careful of generalizing and universalizing, largely because I know too many women who are not “naturally endowed with (those) divine attributes” and feel guilty as a result – and too many men who are so endowed and never think to strengthen them with the focus being so much on women and mothers in that regard.

    Ideally, I believe we should strive to cultivate those attributes male or female – and I absolutely LOVE that the The Family: A Proclamation to the World speaks directly of husbands and wives being equal partners and sharing in these sacred responsibilities.

  6. Tiffany W. says:

    Lovely! I think we as a society ignore the power of homemaking and the power of a mother/woman who treats homemaking with the reverence and respect it deserves.

    I don’t think that all those abilities needed to be an effective mother are innate. I do think that we can call upon God to receive those blessings. I’m not a particularly nurturing person and I certainly struggle with a significant lack of patience. Those are both skills that are rather essential for mothering and homemaking. But I have felt God’s hand in my life blessing me with those gifts.

  7. Cheryl says:

    I don’t remember where I read it, but I once read this phrase: “Do you think God gets bored making the sun rise every day?” It made me wonder, “how do I view my children and my home and the work that needs to be done inside of it?” I’ll admit that I struggle with the daily mundane. It certainly is not glamorous. But I will agree that it’s extremely important, and there are times when I feel it, deeply. In fact, I think it goes back to the old debate about quality versus quantity time –without the quantity, there is no quality.

  8. NotMolly says:

    The daily mundane is not mine alone. I undertake the whole thing as a laboratory: it’s my goal, and my husband’s goal, to raise complete adults, able to care for themselves and others, so we have a LOT of help in the daily administration of the home. It’s less overwhelming for me, definitely, when the tasks are shared around and everyone works together. The time we all spend working to maintain the daily mundane has the chance to be quantity and quality time.

    I don’t know that I’m particularly endowed with a motherhood gene. If I were, would I look around on a regular basis and wonder who was coming to get these people, then realizing I’m supposed to be in charge? :)

    Still, I like the children we’ve been blessed with. I think they’re neat people. I’m pleased to mentor them, and help them branch out on their own. I want them to find their own path, and not repeat mine step for step, because that won’t be productive for them.

    The mentoring of them has been a delight to discover, even if I do get overwhelmed now and then… I do think one of my strengths is the fact that I can LIKE them, and see them as entirely separate children of God. They’re on loan to me, entrusted to me.

    Kind of rambling (yay, cold medicine!), but one thing I’ve found is that my tolerance for the mundane increases when I decrease the chaos of a house lived in by loads of people (in our case, a really tiny house, and increasingly larger people).

  9. JRoberts says:

    Mothering was not something that I wanted to do. I wanted a career and a paycheque! What a blessing being a mother, who stays at home, who schools her children at home, has been to me. I learn new things each day about me, about my children, and about our Fathers love for us, as I try to be the kind of woman and mother He wants me to be. What a beautiful post. Thanks for posting it here again Monts, I needed the reminder.

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