It was one of those nights. One of those nights where I just could not mother for another moment. One of those nights where I completely lost it. And I was so done that I didn’t even care.
You know what I am talking about: You emerge from your bedroom to find everyone quietly and diligently doing the chores they always complain about. Because they just know. Mama has reached rock bottom.
Only this night, I wasn’t coming out of my room. I had had enough. I was doner than done.
I try so hard to raise my kids well and all they do is complain, fight, whine, and make messes...so the conversation in my head went.
My sweet husband, against his better judgement, walked in and asked, “Are you OK?”
And my exact words were:
“At Caleb’s football game tonight, one of your children pooped on me. Actually diarrheaed on me.And YOU KNOW WHAT? Getting constantly crapped upon is a metaphor for my life.”
You may use your discretion as to if crap was the actual word I used.
I am the first to admit that I have no problem being dramatic to prove a point.
But, in this instance, I truly meant what I was saying.
The whining, the complaining, the fighting. Those are all part of raising kids. Siblings are going to disagree. About everything. No one is ever going to celebrate doing chores. And, because they haven’t learned that it’s socially unacceptable, children are going to whine. And whine and whine.
So while those things were driving me to my wit’s end, I knew they weren’t actually the root of the problem.
The real issue is that I feel unseen. I do loads (and loads and loads) of laundry. And someone is unhappy one pair of pants isn’t washed yet. I spend way too much time preparing a nourishing meal and get to spend the entire dinner hearing how awful it is. Even though they liked it last week. I invest my life into my family. I give my all to raising my children. I think about them constantly and work hard to make sure our home is a great place to grow up. But most days, no one really seems to notice.
They are masters are noticing what I don’t do. But not so much at what I always do.
And the hardest part is that my kids are really awesome kids. They are grateful when they receive an unexpected gift or get to go out for ice cream. They are helpful around the house. They do their chores, even if they complain about them. They are fun and make me laugh. They give great hugs and talk to me about their lives.
It’s not like they’re spoiled brats who treat me like a servant.
And yet I lay in my bed bawling because no one seems to see how hard I work.
Which, when I am in a good mood and feeling great about my life, doesn’t make total sense. Because they do thank me (sometimes) and they do help me and they are so sweet.
But, on those long days when nothing seems to go right and I feel like giving up and I get literally crapped on, it all feels like too much, I really struggle with how much of motherhood is unseen.
Emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually...so much of raising children is invisible. And no one ever really knows how hard I work.
And you know what? I’ve decided that’s OK.
Because when I dry my tears and pull myself out of bed (and enjoy the clean house that resulted from my adult temper tantrum), I realize that I am not cooking a meal merely to satisfy their hunger today. I am not listening to a 20-minute dissertation on why I should buy them fidget toys because fidget toys matter.
I do it all because that’s what love does. And a well-loved child changes the world.
When I think of the adults my children will hopefully become, it makes the daily tasks of raising them much more bearable.
Who cares if I get any recognition today if it means that my children leave home with the confidence of knowing I believe in them and trusting that they can chase their dreams. Because when they fail, they know they have a safe place to land.
Because home has always been a safe place. Where nourishing meals were cooked and clothes were clean and long conversations took place.
The little things that feel so very small and hard to see become the big things that send children out into the great, big world as well loved, confident, contributing members of society.
When they succeed at whatever their life path becomes, I somehow think that the moments of feeling unseen, and the frustrations that come with it, will feel so small in comparison to the joy of knowing that every sacrifice was worth it.
And the great paradox of life is that, even though it doesn’t feel like it, our children see us much more than we think.
A few days after my embarrassing meltdown, I was looking through a notebook where I keep notes for my job. I came across this note:
It was the sweetest reminder that the things I do really do matter.
And getting constantly crapped on is not actually a metaphor for my life after all.