Jonny and I oftentimes plan to watch a program (usually something on PBS Masterpiece) at night after the kids are in bed. Some nights though, we end up in conversation with our three older boys, and plans change. They may not always want to talk with us like this, or better yet, if we always welcome conversation, maybe…hopefully, they will. On a recent night when this happened, Gabe asked Keats, “What are your three favorite things to do?” He was echoing the same question that I had asked him earlier in the day. I like to keep my older kids thinking about what their interests are, encouraging answers outside of the realm of say, watching movies or going swimming at the lake.
Anyway, Keats threw out three things and then the question was turned on me. What are my three favorite things to do? My three big boys started answering for me, saying that this was easy. “Knitting, Cross-stitching, gardening, dyeing yarn…” they all took turns naming what were surely my favorites, and the list went on. Actually, I wasn’t sure at the time what my top three things were, and I’m still not. After thinking hard for a minute or so I gave my number one as, “Making things pretty.” Keats covered his face in his hands while exclaiming, “Mommy!” As in, “Mommy, that’s a ridiculous answer.” I answered back, “Hey, you named eating cookies as one of your top three! Give me a break!”
I eventually came up with a proper answer: spending time in nature, making things (including knitting here), and of course, making things pretty. But honestly, I felt a little stumped. I’m not exactly sure what my three favorite things to do are. While I like to have my kids think about this sort of thing because I want them thinking towards careers eventually, as far as I go, I guess I don’t think often enough about what I want to be doing. Life is more often about what I ought to be doing. But the more I think about it, what I ought to be doing is often what I want to be doing if I look at the big picture. And maybe that’s the lesson I most want to teach my children. What you think you want to do with your life might not end up lining up with your actual vocation, in other words, what God wants you to do with your life. But, if you base your life choices on what you believe God is directing you towards, you will likely find that you enjoy doing what you ought to be doing, even if it ends up involving something quite different than what you originally envisioned.
Beatrix complained about doing something or other yesterday, and I told her just to do the work and she might end up liking it. I said, “I didn’t want to scrub all the toilets on Saturday, but once I got going I didn’t mind at all. And I was real pleased once I got all those toilets clean.” (I use the example of scrubbing toilets far too often with my kids!) Bea started dancing at this point, singing, or maybe rapping? “Who cleaned those toilets? Yeah, I did! I did!” I’ll probably hear her little voice in my head when I’m cleaning toilets from now on. I may even start rapping.
I hope I’m making sense here. I’ve been interrupted no less than a dozen times in writing these few paragraphs…such is my life these days. Bottom line, I have certainly found ways to do what I ought to alongside things that I enjoy, and in doing so, some of the drudgery has become less so. And so much of it has to do with attitude, anyway. Of course I still stay up too late sometimes to knit and make things pretty when I ought to be sleeping. That’s how Mabel got that sweet little hat. And as her mother, I think I ought to do all I can to keep her sweet little head warm.
p.s. The pattern is called, Doe Cap, and it is in the latest Making magazine.