Mamas--Your Work Matters

8:06 AMHeather

I think that the most discouraging, heart wrenching feeling in the world is not grief or sadness.  But, rather the feeling of being alone.  That sense that no one notices you or cares or sees.  Walking life's journey with a sense that no one walks with you.  I believe that is the most disheartening of life's challenges.    

Many seasons of life render themselves vulnerable to this feeling.  Being a young mom, wrestling toddlers and babies all day.  Watching Barney for the twelfth time in one day--not just Barney, but the SAME exact Barney episode.  Filling sippy cups and changing diapers and wrangling those little ones to nap time just so Mommy can get one hour for the great debate of activities--to nap herself?  Or tackle her tasks?  

I find myself now looking back to that season of life and remembering it's challenges as I watch my younger cousins endure its hardships.  My heart goes out to them.  Yet even in my current season of mothering, loneliness lurks around each corner.  I am a SAHM who's rarely at home and with children in school all day.  At least in those harrowing toddler days I knew I was needed, which appealed to my sense of purpose.  These days, that is rather feast or famine.  When the kids are home, no one needs me until I'm on the phone or decided I'll dive into a task because the kids are all busy with something.  It's like a kid-magnet.  Just when I start to relax, everyone needs me at once.  And my greatest purpose seems to be driving the Mom Taxi.  My hours of operation run from 2:45 until bedtime most nights, with a game plan that would rival any event planner.  Strategizing is the key to ensure that all three kids get from point A to point B at the appropriate times.  And, I've yet to figure out how I become so exhausted from just sitting in a van?

While it looks a bit different now, that sense of loneliness that comes with mothering remains a regular visitor.  Does it matter AT ALL?  Oh, sure, I have those Lifetime movie moments when my children are in great distress and I can swoop in and save the day (or attempt to) with my love and affection and incredible wisdom.  There's the occcasional miraculous moment when a child thanks me, unsolicited, or comes to give me a peck on the cheek and say they love me.  But, most days, I am simply working to keep them on task, reminding them to finish their homework, and speaking as much Biblical truth as I can.  

The reality is that mothering is an investment in the future.  It's a job saturated with the tyranny of the urgent, a constant and evolving flow of needs and tasks.  Victories are so incremental, progress so gradual, that it can be hard to see.  Ever.  It's like the other day when my son got home from his track meet and I stood in the hallway chatting with him about his events.

Suddenly, it dawned on me.  I was nearly looking eye-to-eye with him.  I was dumbfounded.  For years actually, I've watched and literally prayed for that growth spurt he's been dying to hit.  Eager to catch up to some of his peers who I lovingly call "men children."  I could hardly utter my sentence as I commanded him to stand back-to-back with me.  Sure enough, the boy had somehow grown at least an inch or two.  The growth I've been watching for, yet somehow missed.

And so it is with our mothering.  We pour ourselves out, a living sacrifice, for the sake of our ministry as mothers.  We drag ourselves through tired days and limp to the finish line of bedtime most days.  We watch and wait with great anticipation for a sign of progress.  Any sign of achievement.  Something.  ANYTHING!  Work with me here, little people.  Show me that you are getting what I'm working so desperately to teach you.

The truth of it is that the growth is happening.  The progress is being made.  We watch the soil for any sign of green sprouts pushing through, any sign of blooming and growing.  And we somehow miss the tree that is growing roots and taking off and reaching new heights everyday.  It's there.  In tiny little victories, nearly too small to be perceptible.   

If you pray for eyes to see these victories, you might notice how your toddler plays with their toys.  Your daughter cooing to her baby, showing the love and nurturing that she's learned from you.  In your son who is not afraid to climb the stairs to the slide and go down all by himself.  He's pushing forward to believe in his ability to try new things and tackle new tasks.  In your elementary student who navigates the playground mayhem of mean girls and drama to seek out the friend who looks lonely and sad.  She had to learn from someone how to show compassion and tenacity.  I'm sure she learned it from you.  

It's in the moments when your teenager sulks off to their room after a run in about their attitude.  And hours later, they sheepishly mutter an apology.  No, it's not a grand speech repenting of all teenage angst and rudeness.  But, it's a small victory showing great progress toward taking responsibility for their failures.  It's when you pray and plead and beg for your child that your gut tells you might go astray.  And one day, you hear them belting out praise and worship songs in their room.  The tears form in your eyes and you realize that they are indeed, making their faith their own.  

Today, let me remind myself and you, bloggy friends, that every little thing you do makes a difference.  You are planting seeds.  The sweat and heartache and exhaustion is your gift, your ministry to your Heavenly Father.  A harvest will come.  You will reap what you have sown.  You are making a difference.  Your work matters.  For the kingdom of God.  Every tiny act of service is shaping the heart of your little ones.  While they seem to be ignoring you, don't be fooled.  They are watching.  And they are soaking it all in.  And one day, they will be eye-to-eye with you, reaching heights you never realized, doing things you only imagined, the living demonstrations of every "mommy prayer" being answered.

You will sit, dumbfounded.  You will perhaps drop to your knees in grateful praise to thank the Living Water who came behind you to grow your efforts into the amazing harvest that you will see before you.  

You will sit back and know without a doubt.  Know what you only hope to be true at this moment.  Every effort was worth it.  Not only did your work matter.  But, it will ripple through the generations to come.

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