Invisible Motherhood

I’ve often pondered what womanhood would look like when I was a young girl. I saw my own mother work in an office as a clerical secretary and how she would type away at the keys and manage phone calls like a “boss”. It was a catalyst for me to see just how women could run multiple things at a time without batting an eye.

As I approached my teen years I had visions of being a highly educated woman who worked her way up the corporate ladder in stilettos while bumping fists with other high-powered women executives.

Girl Power!

So I set off on my educational venture to get as much education as possible so that I could be fully equipped to enter the marketplace. I worked hard, studied hard, (and played hard too but I’ll save that for another post) and expected the payout to be rewarding. As a college graduate, I began my first career job making more in my first year than my mother made in her 30+ years in the workforce.

She was proud of me.   And in my extremely immature 23-year-old mind, I thought I had arrived and was well on my way to earning six-figures by the time I was 30.

But shortly thereafter, I got married.

And then the babies started to arrive.

And somewhere in-between baby #2 and #3 I found myself as a Stay-At-Home Mom.

Wait what??!!!

This was NOT a part of my career plans. I planned to be a highly visible woman all the while managing my growing family as a successful mother. I planned to do it ALL.

However, I traded my corporate Amex card and nice hotel suites while traveling regularly for never-ending piles of laundry, poop, and chasing toddlers. I swapped out executive summary meetings for the 189th reading of ‘Brown Bear, Brown Bear – What Do You See?’ and sweeping cheerios off the floor.

As much as I loved my children, I slowly began to realize that I had settled into believing that my identity was based very much on my ability to work professionally and contribute financially.

It was during this time that I realized that much of the work that I was doing was doing now as a mother, was unnoticed.

Unseen.

As much as I was educationally equipped for the outside workforce, I was totally unprepared for this season in womanhood as it pertained to parenting.

And that is when the discontentment set it. I felt that I had become a woman that I never thought I would be. I was wishing for another life instead of the one I had right in front of me. I felt overlooked and undervalued in a culture that applauds the outward and visible contributions to society. As a mom, I just wasn’t measuring up. With all the work that I did, I felt like I was barely accomplishing anything on a daily basis.

I wanted more.

I wanted to be significant and valuable in the kingdom AND marketplace as a Christian woman with many talents and skills.

This is a noble and holy aspiration, right?

In Matthew 6:1, Jesus says to his disciples “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.”

Motherhood can often feel isolating and lonely with constant demands and the pondering whether if you are doing it right. It is a secret sacrifice, the hidden work of making another meal, cleaning another mess, and losing sleep for our precious children.

It is in the mundane daily work where we do not receive the outward validation and acknowledgment. Society places value on certain types of work, particularly work that is paid or considerably higher paid. Although our days as mothers can be filled with just as much work as our husbands or friends in the workplace, most people don’t actually see it and may not be viewed as valuable.

If we are not careful, it is easy to become resentful in this sacred space of motherhood. Always looking to the next stage of “when” so that we can be more useful to the kingdom or at least appear to contribute more to those in our communities.

These mundane moments are what are temporary and instead of needing the immediate satisfaction of being noticed, we can rest in the eternal glory of what is to come. The truth is that nothing that we do or think is hidden from Jesus, and every sacrifice we have sown will reap a harvest at the proper time.

He Sees.

He Knows.

He is With us.

It is another invitation that God has for us as mothers to live for the approval and acceptance of Him. It’s in these secret places that no one else on the planet sees, and yet He is longing to gift us with His presence in these mundane moments. This work is needed and sacred in this season.

His grace is sufficient, even as we mother in obscurity. He is working out His purposes in us in ways we cannot even fathom. This is our work as mothers, whether paid or unpaid, seen or unseen. It is not in vain and it brings glory to our Father.

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