Motherhood can be more than a little discouraging. It requires the constant tackling of menial tasks that often go unnoticed and unappreciated, and it’s easy to fall victim to the lie that none of it matters.

Just today, I made three full meals for my children, none of which were eaten. Even the chicken nuggets and strawberries they’d specifically asked for resulted in looks of disgust. Their breakfast, lunch, and dinner plates went practically untouched.

I changed the toddler‘s clothes FOUR times, not because he’s potty training, but because he’s an expert at sneaking outside to stomp in puddles and dig in mud. And each time I bothered to dress him in clean and dry clothes, he screamed and flailed in protest, as if I were doing him a huge disservice.

And his big sister? Well, she changed her clothes at least as many times, if not more, because she can’t wrap her head around the idea of wearing just one outfit per day. She was hot, then cold, then realized her clothes didn’t match before deciding they matched too much.

I cleaned the living room, picking up all the toys and even vacuuming. Meanwhile, the toddler dumped a box of Cheerios out while my daughter littered the house with scraps of paper, some covered in wet glue. And the glitter. Well, I’m sure I don’t have to explain the problem with glitter.

And when I helped them brush their teeth before bedtime they whined and cried, as if that tiny brush grazing their teeth with candy-flavored gel was absolute child abuse.

In the day’s aftermath, I looked around to see piles of dirty dishes that might as well have never been used. There were piles of laundry, both dirty and not-so-much, and I sighed wondering when my kids would be able survive to a day with just one outfit. Dried glue still dotted the kitchen table and surrounding areas, and the glitter seemed to wink at me in jest, knowing I would never truly be able to clean it all up.

Buried under the weight of frustration, I wearily sank into the couch, hoping—no, praying—that I could literally rest in peace on the couch before tucking myself into bed. I wanted to prepare for the morning, at which time the cycle of cleaning, helping, and never being caught up would begin again.

But, moments later, the toddler screamed for his stuffed turtle—the one I’d tucked safely in his arms just moments earlier, only for him to toss out of his crib.

“Why do I even bother?” I muttered in frustration.

With a long, low sigh, I dragged myself off the couch to return the turtle to my toddler’s empty arms. And as I closed his bedroom door for the final time, he whispered “I lub you, Mama.”

Right then, I was reminded that one of the reasons motherhood leaves me so weary is that I forget it has a purpose, that it matters. That it is good.

Now don’t get me wrong, it also leaves me weary because it is HARD work, a job that never ends and doesn’t offer much in the way of breaks, either. 

But the work, the effort, the long days in which not one thank you is directed toward me—well, it’s all an offering of love. Displaying love through action is what I’ve been called to do. And in doing so, my kids are learning what love and hard work look like.

As mothers, we are only human, and the endless responsibilities associated with raising children are bound to wear us out. But when our bodies and minds give out, may our spirits not grow weary. Because what we are doing is good. It isn’t easy. It isn’t pretty. It isn’t fun. But it is good.

Let us work now for the benefit of our children, so that one day the harvest we reap will be a generation of capable, hard-working, and loving adults. Not to mention good ones.

And we’ll see that these weary days of motherhood mattered more than we could ever have imagined.

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Jenny Albers

Jenny Albers is a wife, mother, and writer.  She is the author of Courageously Expecting, a book that empathizes with and empowers women who are pregnant after loss. You can find Jenny on her blog, where she writes about pregnancy loss, motherhood, and faith. She never pretends to know it all, but rather seeks to encourage others with real (and not always pretty) stories of the hard, heart, and humorous parts of life. She's a work in progress, and while never all-knowing, she's (by the grace of God) always growing. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.