I see you.
I see you cooking dinner with a screaming toddler wrapped around your leg, two older kids racing around the house swinging wildly between playing and fighting. I see that your nerves are fraying and it’s late, but you have to get something on the table. You worked magic with your grocery budget to be able give healthy foods to your kids, only to have them turn their noses up to this meal cooked with sheer determination.
I see you in the middle of the night, bone-tired, yet up again, nourishing, comforting, soothing. You are on the battlefield of weariness, mama, and it’s a lonely one in the wee hours of the night. No one knows or really even cares that you got up 2, 3, 6, 10 times last night, but you did. Or that you haven’t had a full nights sleep for years, but you haven’t. There are no cheerleaders here. There is no mercy. But you are fierce, mama. As fierce as they come. Love is a powerful, powerful thing.
I see you use all your might not to hit back, when a raging toddler pushes you to your limits. I see the strength that takes even though you feel like you’re a failure for even wanting to hit back. You are strong and maybe that self-control only lasted as far as your fists, while your mouth lashed out. But you are still strong.
I see your weary eyes brighten for one more word of encouragement, your tired arms squeeze a little body tight in love. I see you apologize for your wrongs, teaching forgiveness by example.
I see you, mama, when your husband looks through you like you are glass. He doesn’t understand what all these nights awake can do to a person, how the never-ending stream of requests and tantrums and laundry can dull your spirit. He says he misses you. He can’t understand that you miss you too. I see you notice that he doesn’t see you anymore. That he’s checking his email and thinking about work before even rolling over to say good morning. I see how that stings.
I see that you feel invisible. This is one of the most surprising things about motherhood. Friends, family fawn over your little one, but never see you. Really see you. Rarely ask how you are doing, because they seem to forget that you’re still a person too. I see you wishing that someone, anyone would ask about the state of your heart. Or anything ANYTHING about you aside from your kids.
I see you eating peanut butter on soft bread because it is the only thing to soothe the jagged edges of yourself some days. Salad simply will not do. Sometimes peanut butter on soft bread is actually kindness to yourself.
I see your dreams. Maybe they are close or maybe far away, but always seeming to take second place to making dinner, changing diapers, loving littles. I see you day after day think, “I’ll get to that tonight,” and then crash after a hard day unable to do any more. A dream deferred for one more day. I see that day become years and, though you love being a mom, I see bitterness creep in. I see that there are parts of you that are mighty, but squandered. I see you lose sight of yourself. Lose a little bit of hope.
I see you lock yourself in the bathroom for two minutes to be alone…if you can call alone having a small child screaming 6 inches on the other side of the door.
I see you hiding. First it’s in the bathroom from your kids, then it’s from friends, and eventually from yourself. That invisibility thing that so surprised you about motherhood becomes a cloak that you wear with relish. It becomes a safe place, only it’s not a safe place because it’s not a real place. And the minute a dear soul looks at you and you know that she sees you, like really sees you, you crumble. You’ve been found out and it feels embarrassing and freeing at the same time.
I see you triage your days like a master. You are the queen of efficiency at food prep, packing lunches, bathing kids. I see you manage fights and scrapes and schedules like a champ. And though you can mom with the best of them, I see you growing weary of the hamster wheel.
I see your messy house. It is full of love and growth, but keeping it clean seems to take an army that you don’t have. You remember how your house used to be clean, and everything in it’s place. This kind of mess takes a new kind of grit and stamina to endure. I see you cleaning the kitchen while the baby unravels the toilet paper, the 4 year old spills his drink, and the 7 year old decides your carpet would look better with glitter. I see you shy away from inviting anyone in, but I also see that their house is just as messy as yours.
I see you in yesterdays clothes, sacrificing your body, your sleep, your self, because there is a love greater than these. I see your tiny ones gazing at you with utter love because you are their world and their light. You are doing a good job, mama. I see you holding them close and letting them go.
I see you sneaking in their rooms at night, kissing their sweet faces, smelling their sweet heads, praying that you are raising them well and that they will know how very loved they are. I see you making decisions that seem way above your pay grade. What’s best for their bodies, their brains, their souls? It’s so scary, but you care so much that there isn’t a option for not making a choice.
I see you working so hard every day, but feeling like you haven’t accomplished anything. Productivity in a traditional sense left the building the moment your first child was born. I see you trying to form a new definition of success, and I see the world trying to still fit you in the old one. Neither they, nor you will ever be appeased if you keep looking at each other, without seeing.
I see you in the shopping center when your child has a melt down. I see the eyes on you…some of pity, some of judgement, some of solidarity. I see you tremble as you try to remain calm in this moment and not have a melt down yourself. You are amazing, mama. Have I told you that?
I see the pride and joy in your eyes when you see your little one…or even just talk about her. I see you light up because they are beautiful human beings, and you were a co-creator in a miracle. I see you guiding their hearts to be kind and generous and courageous. I see you changing the world in this way.
I see you, mama. I see you doing hard things in the name of love. You are not invisible and you are not alone.
I see you.
This article originally appeared at TinyUprisings.com.