Somewhere, in a house with walls and a roof very similar to the place you and I call home, there is a mother who wonders if she’s seen.
She wakes to a squalling baby, crying to nurse, or an older child (or two or four) demanding breakfast. She’s barely wiped the sleep from her eyes and has yet to pour a cup of coffee before diapers need to be changed and the dog must be let out.
Her job, nay her calling, begins before her feet even hit the floor. There is no commute to the office, no clocking in for motherhood. There is breakfast to tend, lunch boxes to pack, backpacks to gather. Urine-soaked sheets need stripping; there are dishes in the sink, and a pile of laundry litters the closet floor.
This isn’t a glamorous role, and no one is applauding her this morning.
This is a mom who wipes fevers from brows, tears from cheeks and blood from skinned-up knees. She sweeps crumbs from crevices and brushes hair from eyes. She chauffeurs, she cooks, she cleans. She scrubs stains from pant legs and mends broken hearts. She’s an encourager, a truth speaker, a life giver. She corrects, she counsels, she directs.
She does the hard work, the mundane tasks, and most of the time, she does it all without an eye to see. And sometimes she wonders if anyone notices.
I know that mom, maybe you do too. She’s me, and I have a feeling she might be you.
This calling of motherhood is a service unlike anything else, where the privilege of giving life is tempered by a daily dying to self. It’s the very nature of motherhood. Sometimes I do it well, and sometimes I do it poorly. Sometimes I meet my children’s needs with grace and humility, and then other times I look in the mirror and see ugly, selfish pride staring right back. Sometimes this laying down of self is affirmed by slobbery kisses, vice-like hugs and countless “I-love-you-to-the-moon-and-back” sentiments, and other times I feel as though it’s all in vain.
Does anyone see the hands that tend this family? The quiet kiss atop the head after they’ve fallen asleep? The never-ending grocery list? The dog hair swept off the floor day in and day out. Does anyone see? Does anyone notice? Is their any appreciation?
And then that still small voice … GOD sees. El Roi, the name Hagar gave to God when He saw her after she’d fled into the desert, pregnant and alone … He sees. And the name God gave her son? Ishmael … which means God hears.
When the days drag on monotonous; when the mundane tasks veil the miracle of your calling—this incredible privilege of raising little humans to know Him and serve Him—God is there in the midst of it all, hearing, seeing YOU.
He notices this service of motherhood, this dying of self to tend the needs of your children. The middle-of-the-night sheet strippings, the early-morning wakings, the 297th peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, the fear of failure, the anguish over a child’s mistakes, the worn-out prayer knees, the can’t-take-one-more-hour-of-the-exhaustion/whining/disobedience tears … He sees it all.
He sees when you sit and when you rise. He perceives your thoughts from afar. He discerns your going out and your lying down. He is familiar with all your ways. (Psalm 139) He SEES you. And He whispers to the depths of your tender, parched soul: see this hard stuff? This laying down of your life for the children I’ve gifted you? This is worship in action.
The day-in-day-out constancy of a mother’s service is time camped out in the refiner’s fire. It’s a losing of our life so that we may find it; it’s a daily laying down of our self only to discover that God resurrects!
Dear friend, you are doing hard work, dirty work, tedious work. Work not seen or applauded by many. But you are doing the most important work, the highest calling. You are raising a generation. And in the midst of that sacred work, God sees.
“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:25)
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UPDATE, 2.12.2014: My dear friends, if only you could know how your response to this post has encouraged me! Your comments here, on Facebook, on Instagram and elsewhere have touched me deeply; some have even moved me to tears. While I simply cannot reply personally to each comment (I wish I could!), please know that I read EVERY.SINGLE.ONE! You all are a beautiful community of encouragement and support to me and to one another. May the Lord continue to bless you in this incredible calling of motherhood!
UPDATE, 10.4.2014: Please, oh PLEASE hear me out, friends … this post is for ALL moms, working or stay-at-home, married or single. If you’re a mom, this is for YOU! Some commenters have thought this post is specifically dedicated to stay-at-home moms … it’s not! The point of the language in this post is that there is no clocking in for the role of motherhood; you don’t get to leave motherhood at the office. Motherhood is a round-the-clock, 24/7 day-in, day-out job, whether you’re working or stay-at-home. Honestly, it saddens me that the argument is even broached here. So please, take your stay-at-home or working mom comments elsewhere. This is not the place for them. If you’d like my thoughts on that topic, click here.
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