Recently one of my children had the opportunity to work on a school news show. Once everyone submitted the role they would like, I received a letter stating that most students wanted the anchor position. Obviously, not everyone would get this role and some kids would need to select another position. Maybe a ‘behind the scenes’ role.
Our natural bent seems to desire the leading role. We want to be seen and known. Even for those who don’t like being in front of crowds, they still may want the credit or applause for their efforts. While there isn’t anything wrong with a ‘thank you’ for a job well done, life doesn’t always give us that level of appreciation or attention.
Being a parent, mom or dad, doesn’t lend itself to lots of thanks or attention. There are endless tasks to complete, but no one is standing there with a blue ribbon to place around your neck once you’ve accomplished them.
Specifically, for a mother, we are giving and juggling so much, but the ‘much’ doesn’t seem to be much at all. Instead of juggling flaming torches for everyone to be astonished with, we are juggling the mundane tasks that no one notices. We are surrendering ourselves, our time and energy, and none of these things come wrapped in an oversized, red bow.
One mother intentionally wakes in the wee hours of the morning to have some quiet time with a devotional and coffee. As soon as she gets settled in, she hears the pitter patter of footsteps coming down the stairs. After greeting her early riser, she hears a toilet flush and now knows that all of the kids are waking up and her time alone has come to an end.
For another, she rushes children out the door to school trying to remember all the details of their day. Who was supposed to bring the snack for the party? Who has the field trip today? Who has the science test they studied for all weekend? After drop off, she quickly switches gears to all the events her day at work involves. Her mind is reeling and the day has just begun.
Another mom hurriedly gets everyone started with homework and oversees it all as she prepares dinner. The little ones are crying at her feet for attention while the older kids need help with algebra. Once everyone is fed, she begins cleaning the kitchen while her husband bathes everyone. After baths and bed, she begins a load of laundry and preparing everything for tomorrow.
These are the events for so many of us.
Unseen. Unacknowledged. Unnoticed. And truthfully, they can leave us undone.
The hidden moments are often where we labor and reside. While these behind the scenes roles can be isolating, they can also be our special moments, our shining moments. These are the moments that make us a stable source for our children and strengthen our souls and hearts as mothers. These are the moments that remind us that we too are human and in this place of sacrifice, we are in the midst of spiritual practice.
In these instances of being unacknowledged and overlooked, maybe exploring where we are looking for our significance would keep us from coming undone. Maybe the demands of being pulled in so many directions are really our time to discover the path that really matters. Maybe this is our opportunity to practice saying ‘no’ in order to say ‘yes’ to the things we really value.
However, if I’m being completely honest, sometimes I don’t want to look truth in the face. I don’t want to do all this evaluating and growing. I just want to sit in the blah for a minute. And I want this place of ‘blah’ to be a quiet, uncomplicated place. I know, it’s real mature, but it’s the stark reality.
Eventually, we have to step back into our role and recognize that we ARE the leading lady in this behind the scenes role as a mom and this role IS critical. So maybe an audience to give us applause or a “like” isn’t what we needed at all. Maybe we just needed to come undone, to the end of ourselves. Maybe we needed to shift our eyes to understand that supporting the characters under our roof and laboring behind the scenes to make it all come together is more than enough. It ALL matters. It matters for generations to come.
And though our existence may have shrunk into this isolated place and time, our humble tasks hold eternal significance – Long Days of Small Things by Catherine McNiel