I took my kids to the park last week. It was chilly out, but my sons had been bickering and bouncing off the walls all morning, and I knew they had to burn some of that energy for the sake of my sanity. So we bundled up and to the park we went.
As luck would have it, we had the place to ourselves. While the kids ran around wildly I sat on a bench a ways away, sipping my coffee and scrolling mindlessly through my phone. I glanced up every now and then to watch a “cool trick” and make sure no one was dangling from the monkey bars, but mostly I took advantage of the escape from my chaotic—albeit lovely—reality.
After a few minutes, I noticed an older couple walking their dog in our direction. I suddenly felt self-conscious. I set my phone down and walked over to the playground to interact with my boys.
The thing is, I have this fear of the world seeing me as that mom who pays more attention to the device in her hand than to the babies in front of her.
It’s ridiculous, really, because I know I am so not that mom. Despite having a job that requires me to be online, I do my very best to be present with my kids. Motherhood is my number one priority, but that’s not always obvious to the outside eye.
I’m painfully aware that all of the mothering I—and so many other moms—do behind closed doors goes largely unseen.
That’s why, when this cartoon from Common Wild popped up on my newsfeed today, I couldn’t help but nod along. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted to say (shout!) all wrapped up in a bunch of tiny pictures and it made me feel so SEEN.
As moms, so much of our effort is hidden. It’s frustrating sometimes, to be honest; the world only sees a snippet of our days and often it’s not our proudest snippet.
Sometimes it’s when we lose our temper at the grocery store because our kids won’t stop touching everything. Sometimes it’s when one of the kids says something wildly inappropriate and arched eyebrows turn to us for an explanation. Or sometimes, it’s when we’re sitting at the park with our nose buried in our phone.
Had I stayed on my phone that day, the couple walking their dog would have seen a young mom staring at her phone while her kids played by themselves.
Little would they know what they were really looking at was a young mom taking a much-needed mental break because earlier in the day she had:
Woken up far too early when one of her sons had a nightmare and couldn’t fall back asleep.
Prepared, served, and cleaned up three separate breakfasts while her own neglected cup of coffee grew cold on the kitchen counter.
Burned her fingers with hot glue helping her sons with a craft.
Changed diapers. So many diapers.
Reminded two frustrated brothers to handle their conflicts with words rather than fists (still working on that one).
Rocked a sweet baby girl whose first teeth are painfully coming in.
Read a book about planets three times over and answered a million whys from a curious 4-year-old who is trying to figure out life.
Taken a lightning-speed shower with the door wide open while tiny humans paraded in and out of the bathroom.
Packed enough snacks for a small army because Heaven knows her kids’ stomachs have no limit.
Sung a silly song to get her two-year-old to brush his teeth.
Loved her kids in all of the invisible, subtle, important ways only she can.
Usually, it’s the things that really matter—the human-building things—that nobody sees.
This job—there’s not much glory in it. But the importance in it? Well, that’s unparalleled.
Never doubt, mama, the work you do behind closed doors matters more than you know.
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