Recently, I was talking to a good friend who has a large personality and is doing a very alone job--not what you'd expect. He pours himself out spiritually and emotionally every day. As we were parting, he told me, "With this job, I have to get my pats on the back from God. You just don't get many kuddos with what I do." And to that I say...."WELCOME TO MOTHERHOOD!"
You girls know what I'm talking about. You change one poopy diaper after another, you chase the trail of Cheerios across the house, you step on toys that were in their toy box just five minutes ago, you feed two little mouths breakfast, snack, lunch, and snack...and wonder if you ate, you put them down for a nap hoping you'll get a few seconds of rest and at least one child decides to cry and whine the entire time, you mange to catch a short shower and can't even squeeze in drying your hair (let alone put on make-up) because one child is tugging at your hem, you start supper and realize you forgot to put meat out to thaw and choose the easiest thing you can find, you never have time to pick up toys...and then enters your husband to a supper of fish sticks. 99.8% of those husbands will have the same response. Most won't say anything, but their body language says it all: "What have you been doing all day???"
Motherhood is a thankless job. No one is patting you on the back for a job well done. Most don't even notice. The world asks if you have a "real job." People notice your parenting skills only when your child misbehaves--which they choose to do in a very public setting. But of course, you have those who want to offer you their "sound advice" because they mothered so perfectly. The church doesn't help much. They expect you to spend your time in the nursery--not only being with your own child, but a dozen other munchkins their age--when those who've been through the battle should know to give the ones in the trenches a little R&R.
I don't spout all this to incite bitterness in young mothers I know. I want to remind the rest of us to be quick to give a pat on the back to young mothers around us. And I don't mean an actual pat on the back. I know something a young mother would appreciate is a gift certificate for a pedicure, a restaurant, a babysitter. I remember one woman brought me a basket full of lotions when I was in the middle of six consecutive weeks of chicken pox with three kids. I never forgot that. ANYTHING that says, "I see you. I know what a hard job you have." For husbands? Don't walk in after a day of work (with other adults and lunch out) and have expectations. Come home ready to roll up your sleeves and give your wife a break and some adult conversation.
I notice...Amy, Lisa, Lindsey & Shanna! I love you. I'm proud of you and the job you're doing. Remember (and it's really true): The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. You are investing in little lives who will stand in and for the next generation. It's a thankless and alone job at times. You may get frustrated, exhausted and cranky. But keep the goal in sight--young adults who will leave your home and love God. You may never be thanked. But rest assured in this--God knows. He's called you to this and equipped you for this. And He will see you through. Thank you.