I know. I know those tired eyes and that sleepy soul. I see the dirt smudges on your knees from crawling through the playground tunnel. I hear the sigh you didn’t heave after changing your second diaper in five minutes.
I listen as you say, “No. Spiderman can’t bathe in the toilet” for the ten thousandth time. I watch the way your shoulders sag in the grocery store when the baby screams from her car seat, and the toddler wants to practice his diving skills off the back of the cart, and you just want to go home. But you can’t live on frozen pizza alone. Or can you?
I see you.
You bind imaginary wounds with superhero Band-Aids. You jam out to the Fresh Beat Band in the car on a late night errand—forgetting no kids are riding with you. You scrape sticky sweet syrup off the floor ten times this week, even though you can’t remember the last time you actually mopped. What’s the use?
You throw shoes across the kitchen when the scary preschooler screamed for 45 minutes about the sneakers he wasn’t going to wear and you threaten to take every last blessed one of his stinkin’ shoes to the dump. (Then you remember yourself and say you’ll take them to a little boy whose feet were bare…)
Because that’s what good moms do. Right?
You drive the same carpool route every day and you may or may not remember to brush your teeth before leaving the house. You forget to buckle up your toddler but that’s okay. She reminds you halfway out the driveway. You now all have whiplash.
You prevented a million potential trips to the ER today, yet your pinky toe will never be the same after catching it on the chair leg. Neither will your 5th grader after she hears a real ‘s’ word, that no longer resembles stupid, come out of your mouth.
Your The 5th grader’s homework is finally finished. The preschooler’s face is smashed nose-close to the tablet screen. Dinner that wasn’t mac-n-cheese hit the table. Baths are done. And the house is finally quiet.
You could read a book. Catch up on some shows. Take a hot bath. Or?
Sleep. You could just sleep.
And as you lay your head against the cool pillowcase, you wonder in the heavy silence, What am I even doing here? This is not what I imagined motherhood to be.
Because there’s no glamor in mothering. It’s not shiny and polished. It’s gritty and dirty. Selfless acts go unnoticed. Loneliness often seems your only friend.
You stare at the cover model moms in the checkout lane remembering your stained t-shirt, sweat pants and chipped toenails. The last shower you took? A distant memory. Yet that model…You forget she’s just glamor airbrushed in.
The sigh sinks into the depths of your mothering soul.
And you know.
There’s no award for still breathing and nursing and burping and diapering with only four hours of sleep in a 48-hour period. Medals of honor aren’t handed to those who’ve prayed through every test, sporting event, speech, recital, and every friend lost. Trophies don’t come for those who run the race of motherhood.
But Momma? That’s okay.
It’s important work, raising young souls. It’s our most important work.
Because we don’t know the future of the children we raise.
Billy Graham’s momma didn’t know she was raising the greatest evangelist our world has ever known. Nelson Mandela’s momma didn’t know she was bringing up peace for a nation. Mother Teresa’s momma didn’t know she was raising mercy with skin on.
My third grade teacher’s momma didn’t know she was loving a daughter that would teach me I was worthy. The mommas of my dearest friends didn’t know they were rearing children that understand what it means to carry a burden.
Motherhood is noble.
It doesn’t need glamour or glitz. Because it’s real. Because you are pouring into the cup of a child who will one day affect the lives of others. And when done well, when we scrape our knees bloody against the floor from our prayers, Mothering can change the world.
You, momma? You make a difference. You are changing this world one sleepless night at a time.
Do not be discouraged.
Do not be dismayed.
Your children need you.
They need you to teach them to be humans of compassion, of love, of empathy. They need you to teach them who Jesus is, not because you tell them, but because you show them. They need you.
This is the most important work you will ever do.
This mothering? This is your sacred calling.