June/July 2023

Vacuuming Like Sisyphus

By Natalie Oesch

If you’re familiar with the myth of Sisyphus, you’ll remember that he was condemned to roll a large boulder up a mountain, only for it to roll back down every time it arrived at the top. In this season of parenting young children, many household chores can feel a bit like this. Once it’s completed, it may be a matter of minutes before the work feels undone!

Yet unlike the task of Sisyphus, there is importance and goodness in serving our families. The tasks can feel repetitive, mundane, perhaps futile some days, but they can also bring delight. God can help point us to the blessing embedded in these tasks, and the blessing of this season of our lives. 

This poem came out of that personal epiphany moment around this with God while vacuuming a few months ago.

After I’ve collected all the puzzle pieces
and chased down each solitary sock,
I find myself vacuuming on a Tuesday
again. Aren’t these the balls we will roll
up the parenthood mountain,
muttering to ourselves
as they roll back down?

Trails of petrified cheese and cheerio dust disappear
and I’ll admit: the transformation is therapeutic.
But the crumb collection will reincarnate later
and my God, I thank you
again. Aren’t these the paths we can chase
back to our dear children, devouring their childhood
with delight?

About the Author

Natalie Oesch lives in Chicago and spends her days supporting a variety of nonprofits as a copywriter, mothering her three young boys, and partnering with her husband, who leads an Anglican church in the city. She’ll take any invitation to go hiking in the woods, host someone over a simple meal, or linger with live music. She finds poetry a delightful space to behold God and the details of our lives.