Your most heroic efforts occur between 2:00 and 3:00 in the morning, always in the dark. And the kicker? Nobody sees you.
Being told, “Cherish every moment. The years go by so quickly,” is neither encouraging nor helpful when your baby never sleeps and you haven’t seen the inside of a shower in months. Out of the gate, motherhood looked nothing like I had imagined. How did those NYC women, combed and washed, pushing sleepy babies in strollers through the cobblestoned streets of SOHO, do it? I didn’t have the time to look at my hairbrush, let alone use it.
I wanted my life to look like a Pottery Barn Kids ad — beautiful and put together. I wanted to be the mother that sent the perfect Christmas card photo … you know the type: matching sweaters, expensive gold foil print. And I wanted to fit back into my size two jeans immediately after cutting the umbilical cord. With social media’s entrance into the world, this longing for outside recognition has only deepened. The lie I believed is that my life’s significance depends on how well it fits into a perfect square and my worth based on the number of “likes” it receives.
It didn’t take long to recognize the reality of motherhood. At its core, it is hidden work. Your most heroic efforts — soothing the inconsolable, wiping the vomit, changing the crib sheets — occur between 2:00 and 3:00 in the morning, always in the dark. And the kicker? Nobody sees you. If we have never met, let me brief you on a critical detail about myself. I enjoy being seen.
When a famous mommy blogger got into a small plane crash and suffered burns over 80% of her body, this need to be seen shifted. Unlike the many snarky mommy bloggers out there (myself included), this woman celebrated the vocation of wife and mother, calling it a privilege to serve her family. She took pride in changing the toilet paper roll, filling the cupboard with nutritious food, and fluffing the sofa pillows. She wasn’t cleaning the house; she was creating home. She wasn’t wasting her years wiping noses and changing diapers. She was forming disciples. In an instant, simple tasks she enjoyed (the ones I thought meaningless) became nearly impossible. Opening a zip-lock bag to fill with pretzels … tying her children’s shoes … setting the dining room table for Sunday meals … now takes monumental effort. But she did it. Seen or not, she persevered because she wasn’t doing it for the world. She was serving God.
As I witnessed this young woman fight for her vocation, I began appreciating my own. Every task, every sacrifice, every dirty dish is a privilege, whether the world sees it or not. God’s best work is hidden, and I have come to prefer the hiddenness — the everyday encounter between my Creator and me that nobody sees.
This is part of the series called “The Human Being Fully Alive” found here.