“Hey, just checking in. How’s your day?”

I balanced the phone between my shoulder and ear as I pulled a bubbling tater tot hotdish out of the oven.

“Oh . . . fine,” I sighed to my husband as our youngest daughter streaked by, frayed hem of a hand-me-down princess dress flying in her giggling wake. “How about there?”

He let out a nearly imperceptible sigh of his own. “It’s alright. Busy.”

But I heard what he didn’t say.

Busy in his world—the lone hospital in our moderately-sized Midwest town—means crazy. Stressful. Filled with a task list constantly, irritatingly, outpacing his human capacity.

He’s on the front lines of a new world war, one that’s crept into our unassuming backyard.

As a healthcare worker, he’s essential personnel, logging long, in-person hours when much of the world is (rightly) social distancing and working from home. Every day, he leaves the safety of our home, drives to a hospital where the virus is undoubtedly within its walls, and dons his scrubs. He’s doing his small part to combat an unseen enemy, to protect family, friends, and perfect strangers.

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You can count him among the heroes, in my humble opinion.

It wasn’t until the other night when something he said made me realize—he thinks the same of me. 

I’d been traipsing up and down the stairs, plucking items from the basement for our “homeschool” setup. School closures mean I, like nearly every other mother in the United States, am embarking on an “accidental homeschooler” adventure with my kids. To that end, I lugged an old Ikea shelving unit up the carpeted steps, fretting over which corner of the dining room-turned-classroom it would best fit. I shoved the dinner table against the wall, lining it with baskets for papers, markers, and devices. I shook out an old rug long forgotten in a closet, moved a couple of lamps, and replaced artwork on the wall with rainbow drawings and kindergarten doodles.

My husband walked in late that night just as I sat down to survey my piecemeal efforts.

“Quite the construction project,” he said.

“Not exactly,” I shrugged. “I didn’t build anything.”

He looked around the 120 square feet that used to be our dining room, then leveled his gaze at me. “Yes, you did. You built a school.”

I blinked back.

He was right.

I just hadn’t been able to see it through my exhausted, I’m not doing nearly enough eyes.

I suppose I didn’t notice myself there on the front lines with him, fighting for our family.

That even though I’m not working in a hospital or delivering essential goods and services or wearing a uniform, what I’m doing as a mother, as a wife, matters.

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Moms, what we’re doing matters.

We’re providing critical, constant care to tender hearts.

We’re loving our husbands in new and necessary ways.

We’re filling empty stomachs and long, sometimes challenging days.

We’re making sure there’s toilet paper in the bathroom and milk in the fridge.

We’re teaching and learning and adapting and exploring.

We’re loving our neighbors as ourselves, even though it’s lonely.

We’re showing up despite our own worries and fears.

When history writes this tumultuous chapter, it will undoubtedly highlight the visible heroes—deservedly so.

But between those lines will be something hiding in plain sight, holding a holy space.

It’s you.

And it’s me.

It’s all of us. 

And we’re building something beautiful.

Carolyn Moore

Carolyn traded a career in local TV news for a gig as a stay-at-home mom, where the days are just as busy and the pay is only slightly worse. She lives in flyover country with her husband and four young kids, and occasionally writes about raising them at Assignment Mom