The Invisible Mom
May 10, 2017
I can count on one hand the amount of times in my 5 1/2 years of parenting that I’ve asked my husband to come home from work early to SAVE OUR SHIP, and that is one. One time.
This morning, within the span of the 15 minutes between 8:45-9:00 AM,
one child pulled an egg out of the refrigerator and egged the back door
one peed his pants
one drew a masterpiece with a blue sharpie on a white door
one threw the baby monitor into the toilet
one thought 15 gallons was an appropriate amount of water to clean aforementioned blue sharpie while another thought dumping said water would help get the floor clean
and one was spanking me with a snorkel while I made the SOS call.
I only had 3 kids at last headcount, but there’s a good chance they multiplied when I wasn’t looking.
After I talked to my husband and before he came home, one child put a toy down the shower drain, one spiked and shattered my favorite coffee mug, and one bent the preschool pictures I spent their college fund paying for.
If you could see my house right now, you’d call FEMA to have a disaster zone declared. (Or the CDC. They might have interest in the species of fungi growing in the carseat cupholders.)
It’s not that I haven’t done the dishes today, it’s that I haven’t done them again. Same with the laundry. It’s amazing how many clothes 3 tiny humans can go through in any given day. (And I’m VERY generous with my stain limits. We need at least 7 on that shirt before we’re changing.)
If I were to make a Realistic Family Photo Album, it would look like this:
this is my toddler crying because I wouldn’t let him have any of this juice
this is my toddler about to slap an orange out of my hand because he’s furious it broke apart and can’t be put back together
this is when my oldest gave himself a haircut with nose hair trimming scissors
this is me trying to have “quiet” time
(The more pictures I dig up, the more I realize this would actually make an incredible photo album. What started as a joke is now morphing into a necessity in my mind.)
There is so much about motherhood than no one sees.
No one follows you around and compliments the way you used a creative consequence instead of yelling.
No one applauds when you shower with one kid underfoot or use the bathroom with another on your lap.
No one high-fives you for playing peek-a-boo 894 times in a row.
Momming is hard work, with little to no verbal affirmation.
And in a culture where we love us some public Facebook accolades, it can be isolating.
We see the post of that girl’s husband bringing her flowers “just because”. We see the picture of the mom who was sent to an all-inclusive spa resort for the weekend. We see the family with the nanny that comes in 3x a week. We see the friend whose parents live 2 doors down and are able to come by and pitch in 24/7.
When that’s not our story, it’s easy to feel invisible. And overwhelmed.
It’s also easy for invisibility to morph into either discouragement or bitterness.
This isn’t a new feeling.
There’s a story in Genesis 16 about a mom named Hagar who felt this way. She was done. Completely. No light at the end of the tunnel, no husband to call and have come home from work.
(In fact, she was in a polygamist situation gone bad – a victim of others’ poor decisions. So. She was infinitely worse off than any of us, but since I know nothing about that culture, let’s skip over that part for now.)
Hagar was dejected enough to run away – alone – to a desert.
It was here, in her fear and loneliness that God found her. He sent an angel to her.
“The angel of the Lord found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur. He said, ‘…. You will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the Lord has heard your cry of distress.'” (v 7,9)
Hagar then replies with one of my favorite proclamations,
“You are the God who sees me. I have now seen the One who sees me.”
When she thought she was at her most invisible, God sought her out.
Her story wasn’t immediately wrapped up in a neat little package, as it’s often not today. She still had a long road ahead of her.
But God was there. He heard her cries. He saw her.
And, hey! GOOD NEWS!
His eyes still work today.
Sometimes he sends an angel to comfort, sometimes he sends a text from a friend.
Sometimes he shows up through a child stopping and saying, “I lub you, mama.”
Sometimes he loves us through a spouse that comes home in the middle of the day to give us a break.
Our goal as moms isn’t to receive applauds. And we need to quit measuring our success by how Instagram-worthy our lives are. Or how many times our husbands notice all of our hard work without our pointing it out first. That’s called “entitlement” and that not only gets us nowhere, it is toxic to our homes.
Our goal isn’t to receive accolades.
We are also not invisible.
We are seen by the same God who formed the universe and who knit our children together. The one who created the heavens and who knew our middle child would love avocados.
He sees us where we are, as we are.
Whether you are a mom in the sticky chaos of Tiny Human Land, a mom wading through the trenches of teenage hormones, an empty nester encouraging your bone-weary daughters and loving on your grandkids, or a future mama reading this and planning ahead about how high to put eggs in a refrigerator, you are doing a good work.
We are doing a good work.
El Roi is the God who sees.
He sees you, mama. He sees me.
Not just on Mother’s Day, every day.
May we see the One who sees us.