Efficiency is a high value word in our world. We are, after all, just a few generations removed from the wonder of Henry Ford’s moving assembly line. The people who can do the most, the fastest seem to win. But being surrounded by a culture that values efficiency so highly, can skew your thinking when you’re dealing with little people. While we all know that we’re not assembling Model T Fords, in mothering, efficient strategies are often necessary. Mouths need to be filled, feet need to be shod, swimming pool hair needs to be combed, but the assembly lines are wiggling and efficiency becomes an illusive goal. It can leave you feeling — inefficient.
We need to be reminded often that our God-designed task is of a different sort.
This is long work. These investments aren’t the kind that you pull out of the market after a year.
The returns on this work are intended to be viewed from the perspective of years, even generations — but we are in the minutes. It can be very difficult to remember that someone might be holding your grandchild in 30 years, because you kept making peanut butter sandwiches to feed them today. When Dr. Seuss is spilling out of your mouth for the umpteenth time, it feels like a stretch that those budding literary skills could become a career. The lego towers that tumble off every countertop, could be the start of engineering bridges and buildings for cities yet to come. But right now, there’s just the panic of getting it cleaned up before the baby chokes on the pieces.
In mothering, we identify more with the analogies of a tree farmer than an assembly line worker. We are planting things that take a long time to show fruit. Surrounded by a culture that puts a high value on efficiency, our internal barometer can measure all sorts of wild readings as a result. It chaffs against our drive to complete the check list and mark off the boxes. The work we did yesterday, stares us in the face again this morning. The toy box is messy again. Getting the slow toddler and a load of groceries from the store to the car takes up half our day. Those children we just fed, whose dishes of soggy cheerios and toast are still sitting in the sink, are hungry again.
God is our Creator. He fashioned us as He pleased. His perspective doesn’t just give a view of this year or season, He has the whole picture. He already knows the story, from beginning to end. C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Almost certainly God is not in Time. His life does not consist of moments following one another.” We, however, live and function in a linear world every day. This limits our perspective. But He created from the perspective of eternity.
We must lean into His creative wisdom in these days.
Have you ever considered that it would have been entirely possibly for him to make our bodies to be fueled differently? Food wasn’t necessary. Water was his idea. (Though, can we agree that oddly shaped sippy-cup tops were definitely an invention of the fallen man?) Rest was a part of the original design. He created us with bodies that need to be refueled daily. He designed the way that babies develop. The time they would take. The energy they would require. And He called it good.
This should significantly impact our thinking when our lives involve masses of goldfish crackers and bananas. The milk cups that need to be refilled, are there for a reason. Our Creator could have made us so “efficient” that we didn’t require sustenance. It would have been possible for him to make our bodies fully functioning without sleep each night. But He didn’t, and he called it good.
Let it remind you that you are small. What I do not mean by that is that your life doesn’t matter or that your value is small. What I do mean is that we have opportunities every day, as we serve little people and take care of little needs, to remember that we are the created. This world was not formed and sustained by our efficient efforts or productivity. It was formed and is sustained by a loving God, for His own glory. When we joyfully receive a season, embracing it as valuable because of His design, we honor Him.
As it says in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” (ESV) This is your time to plant. This is your time to water. This might be your time for peanut butter sandwiches and Dr. Seuss.
Embrace the “inefficiency” of this season with joy. Your Creator planned it this way.