There’s a lot of work in motherhood that goes unseen. Women are opening up about it and supporting each other. It’s a beautiful thing. We need to keep this conversation growing. But just like with all planting, there are other soils to consider. Other demographics we need to be careful to not leave out. In my own experience as a wife and mother, I’m discovering a lot of unseen work in my spouse’s fatherhood.
Parenting, in all it entails, can feel and be thankless.
If I’m not careful, I miss out on all my husband is doing. I misunderstand, take him for granted, or am simply unable to relate to his role from my own role as a stay-at-home mom.
It’s easy to forget we are both bringing different things to the table. It’s easy to overlook each other’s roles when we’re so immersed in our own. So exhausted by our own.
Just as he won’t always know I was up late scrubbing messes out of the carpet, I won’t always recognize he was up early for work before the sun winked against our cold, frost covered truck.
Just as he may miss me cuddled up on the couch with our kids reading books, hoping I’ll be able to help teach them the difference between numbers and letters, I may miss him hunched over a computer hoping this time the form uploads correctly.
Just as he won’t see me unloading and loading the dishwasher and washing machine in an endless repetition, I won’t see him troubleshooting different problems over and over again as he repairs and maintains the same generator. Again.
Just as he won’t see me remembering to pay a bill in the nick of time, I won’t see him choosing not to pick up a drink from the gas station or lunch from a drive-through so he can save money for us.
Just as he may miss me losing my sanity battling toddlers to brush their teeth, put their shoes away, and use soap when washing their hands, I’ll miss his mind-numbing and soul-deadening commute home.
Just as he won’t see how much I crave conversation after listening to incoherent babble, whining, giggles, and shrieks all day, I won’t see how much he craves a chance to rest his mind before engaging once more.
Just as he may overlook my triumphs and productiveness, I may overlook his triumphs and productiveness.
Just as he may miss my tears, I may miss his sighs.
Just as he may overlook my clean floors and scrubbed showers, I may become used to seeing grease and oil tucked into the whirls of his fingerprints.
And just as he may notice my mistakes, I may notice his.
It’s because of all this unseen effort that our communication (in part) is so important.
When we tell each other what we’ve been doing, how we’ve been spending our days—not out of competition but out of honesty—we’re able to bypass resentment and go straight to respecting each other.
When we offer grace and gratitude, we’re able to transform under-supporting and under-valuing into balanced appreciation and overpowering love.
We all sacrifice differently. And talking about it is important. Not in a Well, I did this.. . . sort of way but in a We’re doing this. All of this! Separately but together sort of way.
Whatever our roles, families are all doing their best to provide for their children and each other.
They’re doing their best to be the moms their kids need; the wives their husbands chose.
They’re doing their best to be the dads their children depend on; the husbands their wives partnered with.
Our roles are different—sometimes incomparable and other times so similar as to be dismissed. But those subtle differences are a blessing when we stop to look around the table.
They’re why we need to remember each other’s hearts.
We won’t always do it perfectly. We won’t always want the responsibility of our roles. Sometimes our positions may flip or invert. Other times, one person may hold up the other. And when our conversations grow stilted, sometimes our growth will stunt.
But there are seasons for everything. If we both keep putting in the work, we will reap a harvest (Galatians 6:9).
When my husband and I are blind, Jesus still sees.
When you need encouragement, remember that He takes notice of the unseen. He looks at our hearts.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart’” (1 Samuel 16:7).
“And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be the greatest. And He said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called “Benefactors.” But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves’” (Luke 22:24-27).