When Mothering is Hard and No One Sees

When Mothering is Hard and No One Sees | Faith and Composition
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.

When Mothering is Hard and No One Sees | Faith and Composition
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.

When Mothering is Hard and No One Sees | Faith and Composition

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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Like what you see here? Then you’ll love my first-ever children’s book, Bruce the Brave. Now available on Amazon

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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336 thoughts on “When Mothering is Hard and No One Sees

  1. Andrea Graybill

    Wow!! I needed this today! This week has been extremely challenging for me. I’m a stay at home mom of 3 kids 3 and under. We were hit with about 2 ft of snow last week which has kept me inside and to top it off my youngest too have been battling horrible colds which has left them cranky, clingy, and miserable.
    I have been trying to stay positive all week but the last two days have been the worst. It’s so difficult not to feel so incredibly alone, and even sometimes useless. I know that God loves me and I know there is great purpose in the season of life that I’m in now, however it can be hard to remember that. Thank you so much for reminding me just how important my everyday role is to the future of my kids and that God sees everything and know exactly how I feel. Quite honestly, that’s all that matters-that God knows. Thanks for keeping things in perspective. God knew I needed to hear/see this today! God Bless! -Andrea-

    1. misty

      These winter months bring a lot of challenges but we as Mom’s are the glue that holds everone and everything together.. I have 2 under 2yrs so I can relate.. idk how you do 3 under 3.. keep your head up Mama.. you got this!!!!❤

  2. nancyhsturm

    Mine own children are grown, but I still remember those days…. What a beautiful article of encouragement for moms of young children. I especially liked this: “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.” Beautiful. Thank you.

  3. Jen Hall

    I could list a hundred reasons why I needed this today…. Just wanted to say thank you for sharing. Blessings~Jenny

  4. Misty

    You have no idea how much I need to read this today..and everyday. Mothering is a thankless job at times..being paid in hugs and kisses is only half of it.. It is always so nice to hear a compliment related to being a mother. When noone sees all the work that goes into being a Mother.. God sees us!# Always! Thank you for writing and posting this.. from the bottom of my heart.. Thank you!!❤❤

  5. Jessica

    Thanks for including the peed in sheets. I think it’s my most invisible job. Definitely one of my most patience trying.

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  7. Deborah

    As an “older” mom- with both my kids grown and married- I can say this is spot on and in hindsight- if we could only appreciate the days we have these precious little ones in our care! I miss the days you write of! I miss them now that I can never experience them again. If only we could realize it when we’ve wiped the last nose or made the last school lunch! We would bawl- I know- but it would give us a better appreciation for the seemingly mundane tasks of motherhood. Nothing a mother does is wasted! God has blessed us with our calling of motherhood. As a new Mimi- I am able to impart this wisdom to my daughter- hang on to each moment and pause in the midst of chaos to relish your blessings!! It passes so very quickly. God bless all the mommys out there 🙂

    1. Cindy

      Thank you so much for sharing, Deborah! I am a Mimi now, too – to a 3 year old boy and a 10 month old boy – so blessed. We don’t live in the same state. I really appreciate your statement, “Nothing a mother does is wasted!” I have regrets that I am trying to put behind. Now we Mimis must cherish the moments with our kids and grandkids. That will go by all too quickly, too. 🙂 My daughters are growing in the Lord, and that is such a blessing. May God continue to bless you richly.

  8. Marlane Lutz

    I raised three boys ,18 months apart.I remember feeling so overwhelmed at times. Your posts are so real and I’m sure comforting to many mothers. Your words inspire me.
    I’m now a grandmother of three. I work outside the home, have two dogs, help care for our five month old grandson , and five year old granddaughter . (Babysit two days )
    I’m so thankful for being a small part in the lives of the “next generation” . This article touched my heart. I can still relate , I know the time spent with a child is our highest calling .

  9. Tifney

    This article was so touching. This is my life, the one you spoke of, and I needed that great reminder “…this is worship in action.” May I remember to do each of the mundane tasks as though unto Him!

  10. Monica Garza

    Yesterday I had a nervous breakdown in the car (passenger) in front of my husband and 3 kids. We have been through alot lately and my two daughters are acting out horribly so im just tired of my job as a stay at home mom. I was having a bad day and to top it off when the girls were acting up and the baby is crying my husband says, “I wish I was at work today”. That was it! We all got in the car to go home and I just felt horrible. I still do. Im still crying about it and then came across your article. My soul needed this confirmation! Thank you for reminding me of God’s love and faithfulness in times like this.

    1. shaleneroberts Post author

      I’m so sorry! I’m glad this post encouraged you, and I do pray you are able to find some respite from all the demands. May God meet you right where you are today!

  11. Emily

    I so desperately needed to hear this today! Thank you for writing such beautiful true words! At 34 weeks pregnant with a sick 1.5
    Yr old I’m at my wits end this week. I now have the strength to mentally make it a little longer!

  12. Pingback: Because Motherhood is Worth It | faith&composition

  13. Stefanie Fischer

    Hi! Is there any way I can contact you by email? I can’t find an adress, can you send me yours? Thanks! Stefanie


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