My name is Sarah, but my penchant for crafts and meticulous, obsessive creative streak has earned me the nickname “Little Martha.” Martha Stewart used to appeal to me in so many ways: she seemed to be a strong, independent woman whose home was always just-so. Prepared to whip up a French petit four or German chocolate cake at the drop of a hat, constantly ready to entertain a guest of one or one hundred, able to carve masterpieces into gourds? Genius!
But over the last year or so, as I’ve grown and changed in my perspectives on parenting, and on what’s really important to me in my life, I’ve started to really resent the nickname “Little Martha.” Where I used to admire her, I now look on her as incredibly superficial…selfish…self-centered. I’ve been bugged by the question: who was she really doing all that crafting and hostessing for anyways? I still love to see all the crafts and clever things she can do, but I wonder why she bothers? What’s her goal? Who is she doing this work for?
I love to work with my hands, I enjoy making things, and the part about crafting that brings me the most joy is being able to give the things I make away to my family and friends. Handmade gifting makes my heart happy…being able to do use the gifts I’ve been given to do something that helps someone else fills my cup. This is true across the board in my life: whether it’s teaching, mentoring other teachers, writing, crafting, caring for children, I feel as though the tasks I’m engaged in are meaningful because I’ve been called to serve in these ways.
Which is why this picture, taken by my three-year-old son, gave me pause.
He was using my phone to take pictures of things around the house that he thought were important- he snapped and giggled for almost ten minutes before returning my phone and running off to play cars. As I scrolled through his snapshots after he went to bed, I found it so telling to see the world from his short-legged perspective, to review the things he felt to be meaningful enough to steady his little hands and click the button: a half-eaten cookie, his sister’s painted toenails, his pile of dinosaurs, his Daddy in the kitchen, his barely-able-to-see-over-the-counter shot of the art supplies…and this. Mommy, hunched over computer, coffee cradled, busy at work.
This one stopped me.
Is this how they see me?
There is always the guilt, even in working from home: every minute spent on a work or home or any task other than engaging in the moment with them…am I missing something precious? Will my children remember the moments spent with them, or lament the times I was “busy” doing something else? There is no doubt that, no matter how I craft my schedule each day, there are times when I have to do things that do not directly involve them. I am ok with that, I really am. But then pictures like this make me think: what was I working on right then? Was it a necessary action at that moment, or was I distracted from what was really important right then? Was it child or work-related, or Pinterest-related? Was I serving my children, serving others, and serving God at that moment…or was I distracted by my own interests?
The story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38 has been on my mind quite a bit lately, and this photo from a three-year-old’s perspective really drives it home:
In this photograph, am I Mary, or am I still playing Little Martha?