Seeing Thankless as Sacred
Toddler tired midday meltdown ensued. At the exact same time newborn diaper blow out covered my shirt, her entire body, and the rocking chair. The rocking chair that I needed to coax my toddler to sleep in—immediately…if any of us were going to make it through the next five minutes.
I decided to let my toddler lay squalling on the floor. I hoped the lying down would put her to sleep. Not likely, considering the ear-piercing volume of her afternoon fit. But I left her and rushed the baby to the changing table.
I stripped her clothes, carefully, cautiously avoiding rubbing poop in her hair. I stormed through five wipes and two diapers and had her clean faster than a NASCAR pit stop.
My mind raced to how I could entertain her to tend to my still awake, still crying 2-year-old.
I set the baby in her crib beneath twirling bright pinks, oranges, and blues and clicked the Mozart switch. Maybe soft, calming music could drown out the next door tantrum. I prayed, “God, please just 5 minutes.” And ran to pick up the tired screamer.
Three sips of milk and four rocks later, my toddler stopped short in her humming along of Jesus Loves Me. As I laid her gently in her big girl bed, I heard the baby start to fuss. I did it! I thought. I whispered a secret victory cheer in my head, applauding myself that I got my toddler to sleep in time to tend to the baby’s next needs.
I bounced baby to the kitchen with me and texted my husband, “I should be somebody’s hero.”
Doesn’t it feel that way sometimes? A seemingly short, half-an-hour motherly challenge requires such patience, such strategy, such precision that it seems we could surely earn a medal of honor. Or hey, I’d even take a quiet coffee break.
And our day is made up of hundreds of those equally short, yet equally exhausting motherly challenges. I’ve found the way to press on through the tired seconds is to enjoy each one by realizing the sacredness that lies within it.
It’s easy to feel like we’re the only ones living out thankless lives serving our people and stewarding our homes. Our image-driven culture makes it more difficult than ever for women to feel our worth. With each scroll through newsfeeds, visuals on our phones tell us our homes aren’t decorated well enough, our bodies aren’t toned tightly enough, our kids aren’t dressed cute enough, and on it goes.
We start to feel like we don’t even matter: as a woman, as a wife, as a mom, as a person. We get into the comparison cycle.
She stays at home. She works.
She homeschools. She pays money she could be donating to charity to send her kids to private school.
She makes casseroles every night and sews her own curtains. Her kids eat McDonald’s happy meals—while they stand up in the booth and yell at each other!
Her grown children were all married by 30. Her daughter started a career instead of looking for a spouse.
This is exhausting! We don’t have the energy to put into this comparison trap and invest well in our husband and kids. None of us are Super Mom to the rescue— no matter how much another mom might seem like it, or how much you might feel like it when you’re the one with your Bible open when your friend stops by.
Part of our female DNA as moms is wanting to do the best with our kids, which is good and right, but it can go very wrong when we try to subtly prove our motherly worth by winning “Mom of the Year” on everyone’s invisible ballot.
So let’s make a motherhood pact: Be for one another instead of compete with one another.
Choose compassion for other moms who are struggling in ways that we are not right now. Let’s use our past struggles to encourage moms who may be where we have been. And if we see each other in the store with egg yolks dripping from the cart, tear open some paper towels and help a momma out, instead of beaming that it isn’t your cart today!
By Tracy Lane