I am not sure when the lie creeped inside my mind. I had committed my life to mothering by choice. I have been a home school, public school and private school mom. I was a mommy-blogger for years. I have a full-time job parenting children that are not my own. I did this not begrudgingly, but intentionally because I saw the need and I had a passion for parenting.
Then one day, subtly, the serpent hissed in my ear, “No one hears a word you say.” That day I began seeing myself as the teacher on Charlie Brown. Constantly talking, and never anyone hearing the message I am trying to communicate. Telling children things that I believe will bless their lives and realizing they did not get the message. “Waah, waah, waah…”
Of course, this was a partial truth. Children (and adults for that matter) don’t always listen well. The more people you try to communicate with, the easier it is to see the times that the message didn’t penetrate than the times it hit the mark. You begin feeling like a broken record that needs to be thrown in the garbage.
For me, that’s how it started, but it didn’t stop there. More subtle messages slid into my mind over time. “You were Valedictorian. You were President of multiple organizations. You received countless scholarships and studied abroad. What have you done with all that? What are you now?”
The serpent worked his deception subtly and gradually I began to lose passion, confidence, and direction in my mission. Gradually I began to wonder if someone would hear me if I had done another job. I began to wonder if I had completely missed my calling.
“Yes,” I thought, “Parenting must be a task for special people who know how to communicate so that their children always listen.”
Did I just type that?????
I did, because as ludicrous as it sounds I realize that this is close to the discouraging message I had been telling myself. I had forgotten all human nature and convinced myself I was ineffective.
And it didn’t end there… I think somewhere inside of me I slid back into the mentality that if you do something well you get recognition. Nowadays, people even get recognition when they don’t do things well. But, all my life before becoming a wife and mom, I had become accustomed to recognition.
As a young mom and wife, not receiving recognition did not bother me. I saw it as a sanctifying process in which God was humbling me and helping me to do the right things for the right reasons. But after over a decade, I confess, I started wondering….
“Maybe I’m just rotten at this parenting thing?”
Ten years in and I’ve read all the books and clocked in blood and sweat and tears. I’ve woken up in the middle of the nights, set an alarm for 4 a.m., cooked breakfasts, helped with homework, encouraged, prayed, cried, and begged. I’ve potty-trained. I’ve cleaned vomit out of car seats from three different children (I think that deserves some sort of medal). I’ve held hands through surgeries and broken arms.
But no… there are still no medals, plaques, awards, etc.
Maybe you are all more realistic moms than I am. Maybe you have never struggled with this. But just in case you ever have, let me tell you:
Just because there are no awards for parenting does not mean that your job is not important or significant.
Just because it seems like no one hears you doesn’t mean that the messages you deliver to your children each day aren’t incredibly important.
I know you know this. Even in my darkest days, I knew this, too. But just because I know something in my head, doesn’t mean lies can’t creep into my heart and sap the passion and joy of my parenting.
Today, if you are a fellow mom, I want to tell you the words you probably won’t hear very often:
Thank you for all the times you woke up in the middle of the night and continued to get up at the crack of dawn.
Thank you for all the meals prepared—no matter if they were Pinterest worthy or from a box.
Thank you for drying your children’s tears, for listening to them, for cleaning up after them, and for teaching them to clean up after themselves.
Thank you for encouraging them when they are down, and for disciplining them when they need it.
Thank you for helping them with Math and Spelling words.
Thank you for celebrating their birthdays.
Your character is shown when you do the hard things, and nobody notices. Your children may not thank you for everything you do for them now, but they will be blessed by your love their whole lives. Even if they drift from the path you thought would be best for them. Even if they don’t hear everything you say. They heard some things.
All these tiny moments, words, tasks combine to share the most important message you can send to anyone with your life:
“I love you.”
They may miss some notes along the way. They might not appreciate the intricacies of the arrangement. They will miss some parts. But you are privileged to share the most important message with them in a way no one else can.