Last week, I was at a party where everyone was complaining about their house cleaners. I kept quiet, because, well, I am the house cleaner at my house.
I came home and said, I wish I had a house cleaner to complain about. That would be nice.
Today, I decided to clean during nap time. As I pulled out my supplies, I thought wistfully, I wish I didn’t have to do this.
I started in our kitchen. As I dusted our espresso machine, I thought back to my college days of making myself a latte and curling up with a notebook and textbook. I’m so grateful for my education, I realized. I pictured the faces of college friends—friends I used to study with, friends I still do life with thanks to texting, emailing, Facetiming, visits, and intentionality—and smiled as I realized how long our friendships have lasted.
As I cleaned our kitchen windows, I looked at our backyard, remembering when Zoe finally gathered the courage to let go of my hands on her Little Tikes slide last week. The look on her face—fear, excitement, pride—mirrored my own. My baby is getting braver and bigger every day.
I dusted around our refrigerator thinking of friends we’ve had over in the last month, the food we’ve served, and the fun we’ve had. I wondered how his trip to see his parents had gone, wondered if she’ll enjoy the last two weeks of college, wondered if the friends I am bringing dinner to tonight will like their new house.
I moved into our guest bathroom. It’s not much—the wall is water damaged and the yellow paint we added doesn’t really cover it like we hoped—but no one has complained about it. I though of the humility it takes to stay at our house on a blow-up mattress with this ugly bathroom and an early morning baby wake up call, and I was grateful for every person who comes and enjoys us anyway and tells us no, their back doesn’t hurt, and yes, that blow-up mattress is so comfortable.
I dusted our empty nursery. It used to be a mud room, then an office, then a playroom, and now it holds an empty crib, some shattered dreams, and a lot of hope. As I moved through the room, I prayed for the baby that will someday fill it. I confessed to God how impatient I am, how much I want that room filled. I asked Him to make me patient and strong in the waiting, to be with that baby’s birth mom, whoever she is, and to be with Zoe’s birth mom and sister too. I thanked Him for this room that lets us grow our family in this house, this room that can be available for Him when He needs it.
I began pulling out the dining room chairs to clean when I looked over and saw my husband sleeping on a chair with an open book on his lap. He has the day off today since Holy Week is basically an Ironman, and Easter is the marathon portion. I thought back to yesterday—the first Easter service he led on his own—and how funny it is that he is a pastor, that I am a pastor’s wife, and that I learn from my husband every week. I thanked God for my husband, for his work, for his leadership, for the opportunities God has brought his way.
And here, I stopped cleaning to let him sleep.
My house is so small that I can’t clean another room without waking him or Zoe up. For this task focused person, that’s a bummer. But even in that—there is blessing. Because of this small house, instead of the larger one I used to dream of, I can stay home with my baby. I can be here on my husband’s day off enjoying family time instead of being in an office trying to pay a mortgage. I can clean in two hours and move on to things that matter more to me.
In this small house, I have learned to offer hospitality instead of a show, and genuine conversation instead of a tour. Teenagers can lay all over my couch because it was free and I don’t care if the leather gets scratched. Kids can picnic on my rug because it was $40 at Lowe’s. I still try to make our house look nice and inviting, but the real welcome and warmth has to come from our genuineness. It’s a challenge I appreciate.
Yes, after all that, I still wish I could magically conjure up a free house cleaner.
But I am comfortable with the choices that have led to me cleaning my own house today, overcome with joy to have this little house to clean, and thankful for all the grace that a good dusting reveals.