My 3 year old woke up at 2:30 am because she was cold, having kicked off her blankets again. I soothed her out of her delirious demands for a new pillow and back into the calming warmth of sleep, despite being dizzy with fatigue myself. She didn’t remember any of that when she woke up for the day at 8.
The baby woke up sometime after the 2:30 wake up call, and I got her out of her crib, brought her into my bed and nursed her back to sleep while laying in a position that made my shoulder go numb. We switched sides 3 times, so both of my arms got the opportunity of being sore and numb when I woke up for the day. It’s hard to say with her being a baby and all, but I doubt she remembered any of that.
The whole day was spent the same way every day has been since our oldest was born over 5 years ago: me doing never ending, unseen tasks for everyone in my family. I answer all the important questions (Is Santa an elf? Who made our house? Can we have an elephant? Why is Arya crawling on the table naked?). I clean up the 900 milk spills so the wood floors and table don’t get ruined, after serving 50 bowls of cereal. Teeth are brushed because I make it happen. Fights are quelled in my court house. Clean clothes magically appear in all the right drawers not because I have magical powers (I wish!) but because I spent an entire day behind the questions, cereal pouring, milk cleaning, teeth brushing, and justice doling, doing it and then putting it away. The children are not playing in puddles of their own filth because I throw them in the tub every night.
Without me, they would not be able to do much, would definitely starve to death, and the 3 year old would never make it to the toilet instead of mostly making it to the toilet.
But everything I do goes unseen.
My 5 year old will still complain at the end of a day that she wishes I would have spent more time with her, despite the fact that I watched a whole movie with her (actually watched it instead of secretly browsing Pinterest on my phone), helped her start to plan her birthday party even though it’s not until November, and watched intently as she showed me the intricacies of the tondue for the billionth time. God forbid one of my neighbors asks me what I’ve been up to lately, for I never know how to answer that question. My mind always goes blank as it scrambles to find something meaningful that I did, something worthwhile to talk about. (Does saying that I showered before dinner count as an accomplishment?) My kids won’t be able to fully appreciate all that I do for them until they are older. I completely understand that. It’s just the circle of life.
But it can make you feel small, this unseen work. Because it takes up all of your time, uses up all of your energy and then some, and requires that you sacrifice everything. So you want someone to notice, to appreciate what you are doing, because it’s actually really significant work. You’re raising tiny humans. Yet, it is done in the background of life, where no one looks because there are too many big important spectacles to focus on.
God revealed something to me last night that I want to share with you today:
He knows everything you do.
He knows that your voice was cracking because of chronic fatigue as you sang to the delirious toddler in the dead of night.
He knows that you perform miracles through your kisses, which never fail to heal all the owies.
He knows that you buy the cheap makeup so that you can afford to buy the good cereal instead of the off brand one, because that’s important to your kids. And it’s important to Him too.
He knows that you faithfully get out of bed every morning after no sleep to go through the wash, rinse, repeat cycle of motherhood and that some days it’s really hard to get motivated to do it all over again.
He knows that last week you totally nailed the Pinterest craft.
He knows that yesterday you cried on the kitchen floor because it all became too much.
He knows that after you dried your tears, you still pulled together a home cooked meal for dinner.
He knows everything you do.
And He is so very proud of you. I am too.
In college I was an actress. I always respected the techies working behind the scenes. They work so hard, yet do it all in the shadows. I always got to take a bow at the end of the show while the audience applauded my work. The techies never got applause. But there is no way the show would have been possible without them. They put together our costumes, helped us with quick changes, made all the sets, hung all the lights, designed all the sound effects and music. Without them, we would have been naked and fumbling around in the dark. Most audience members didn’t know half of the work that was done behind the scenes of the play they enjoyed so much.
Similarly, mothers are the constants that make the show of life possible. Without us, the world would fall to pieces. We don’t need the applause, because we have the truth: the work that we do in the shadows where no one sees us is big, important Kingdom work. It’s so much bigger than us, which is why it is the only thing worth devoting our lives to.
So on the days when Satan is trying to steal your joy and make you doubt your worth, remember that the God of heaven and earth, the Giver of life and death, the One who is, was, and who always will be knows everything you do. You do not go unnoticed by Him. Nor do you go unnoticed by me.
Mother on, my brave sisters.