Mama, I see you. Yes, you. You’re brand new at this, aren’t you? You’re driving that sweet bundle home from the hospital. Wide-eyed. You are in awe and amazement. Those tiny fingers and little lips. You can’t believe that just days ago…hours really, that little person was living inside of you, feeling her kick. You gave that tiny being life. You brought that perfect little human into this world. There is also another part of you that is silently terrified. “What have I done? You mean…I’m 100% responsible for this little person?”
I see you, Mama. Yep. You. You’ve been up all night with a sick child. Rocking her. Telling her that everything is going to be alright. Your body aches from exhaustion. You can see the first glimmer of daylight starting to peek through the curtains. You know that in just a short period of time the other kids will be waking up for the day. If only you could catch a few minutes of sleep. Perhaps extra coffee can help you make it through the coming day.
And you, Mama…you’re a single mama. You have the weight of the world on your shoulders. Everything your kids need is all on you. You’re working two jobs, trying to provide. It’s hard to find much time where you can recharge your own battery, let alone stay on top of all the housework, help with homework and be everything to everyone. There is no back-up or extra hand to give you assistance at night when you’re putting the kids to bed or having to discipline behavior that you have had to deal with umpteen times. You’re trying to make decisions and navigate your little family through this world on your own. I see you too.
Mama, I see you. Your child has special needs. You’re doing the best you can. Learning and planning and adjusting life to help both you and your child; to make the days go just a little bit smoother. You call ahead to a location before your first visit in attempt to plan for anything that could “throw him off.” You know…loud sounds, long lines…simple stuff. All those over stimulants. You ask about a bathroom that can accommodate his specific needs. Every part of your day seems to revolve around this child. The slightest thing can make a good day turn bad. The public tantrums that make you want to run and hide. You watch other parents and their kids play. They move through life with such ease. They play and interact with their children in what appears to be so care-free in comparison to you.
What would it be like to simply have your child be able to carry on a conversation or reciprocate love back to you? What is going on inside of that child’s head? You know there are thoughts. How can you draw them out? Every once in awhile, there is a glimmer of hope. A smile or eye contact. You love your child so much. You don’t want to change your child yet sometimes you just wish that he could be…well…”normal.” Yet, you realize and are strangely thankful for the great lessons in life this pure, innocent little person has taught you. Lessons such as kindness, compassion, enjoying the simple things, loving others with nothing but pure, unadulterated love. Inclusion, “not judging a book by its cover.” The list goes on.
It can be easy for dark thoughts to loom. What will it be like when he gets older? Will he make friends? Will he be able to care for himself and live on his own as an adult? What about college? Is a career at all possible? You push the questions aside and resolve not to entertain them for now.
And Mama. Stay-at-home Mama. I see you too. You’re feeling a little lost in the piles of laundry and dishes and the endless messes. Every time you finish a job you turn around and it’s already undone. It’s the simple things that you desire: to use the bathroom without an audience. To sit and eat a hot meal all the way through or drink a cup of coffee without having to microwave it 17 times before it’s gone. To go to an appointment without juggling and entertaining a child by your side. If only there was a reason to fix your hair and dress nicely. You know…an outfit that doesn’t work boogers and spit-up into the dress code. Those days you long for adult conversation. Days at home with little ones often leave you feeling lonely, unappreciated, depleted and questioning if you have a “greater purpose.” Oh, you know deep in your heart that your job is a high-calling; that you are molding and shaping little lives and not just any lives, but those of your own children. Those judging comments from the world that leave you feeling less-than. Remarks that conclude the misperception about what your day entails. “Do you work or just stay at home with your kids?” You do not sit and eat bonbons and watch soap operas all day! You work hard at your “job!” I see you too, Mama. Your work is valuable.
Then there is you, Mama…you put in well over 40 hours of work per week at that career you’ve spent years aspiring to achieve. Years of school. Piles of student loans. You’ve moved up the ladder to a head position. You have worked and worked and it feels good. There is a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. You’re doing what you love, right? But you’re also tired. Very, very tired. You’re trying to do it all and you are spread so thin. There is so much “mom guilt” resting on your shoulders. How can you be everything to everyone? You had to miss your daughter’s softball game last weekend. She still hasn’t forgiven you for missing her dance recital last spring because you had to travel out of town for a conference. No matter how hard you try, you still feel like you’re coming up short. Cutting back hours on the job doesn’t feel like an option. You feel torn. Many days you feel like you have to pick a team. Career or family?
Mama, I see you. You are trying to just have a fun outing with your kids. You know, be “fun mom.” But the oldest won’t stop picking on the youngest. Every time you blink, middle child turns up missing. Getting everyone safely from point A to point Z feels like an ultra-marathon. That walk across the parking lot, purchasing passes, the summer heat, the toddler meltdowns. Is anyone having any fun? What? Baby just blew out her diaper and your package of wipes is almost empty? Who came up with this bright idea anyway? Next time you all will just stay home and take a walk around the neighborhood.
And you Mama. You’re just trying to take a walk around the neighborhood. You’re pushing that big ol’ double stroller with two crying little ones while big brother is following behind, army crawling across every yard. I see you too, Mama! I’m cheering you on! Go! Go! You can do it! Uh-oh…brother just army crawled through dog doo-doo. You got this Mama! I’ve been in those shoes too!
I see you, Mama. You’re the one down the grocery store aisle. It’s been a long day. Everyone is tired, but your fridge is empty and your cupboards are bare. You just need a few things to give you something to eat for a few more days before payday. I hear your kids arguing and crying. You lose your cool. It has been a hard day. Actually a hard year. All eyes are on you. One lady makes a sharp remark towards your child and gives you some unsolicited parenting tips. You about come unglued. Hang in there, Mama. They don’t know what you’re going through. It will get better. The pendulum has to swing to the other side at some point, right?
And over there. You. Mama. You are sick and tired. And so tired of being sick and tired! Trying to care for your babies when you yourself need someone to care for you. You spend your days pouring into others from what is oftentimes an already empty cup. You don’t feel well. At all. You’re so used to not feeling well that you wouldn’t know what it felt like to feel healthy. To have energy. To smile and love life and feel blessed by all of these great blessings because there is constantly a weight on your shoulders and a dark cloud hovering over your mind’s eye. Mama, I see you and you are doing the very best that you can! Hang in there! Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
And you, Mama. Yes, you truly have earned the right to be called “Mama.” I know it may not feel like it to you, but truly, you have! You’ve tossed out more “negative” at-home pregnancy tests than you can count. Each month brings you new hope and added disappointment. And the positive tests? Well, you’ve seen those too. Each one makes you want to hold your breath and brace yourself for what may lie ahead. The letters D & C have brought on a whole new meaning to you over the past few years. Dashed hopes and dreams. You feel your heart becoming calloused. Can it take any more loss, hurt and pain?
And that one time…remember…you knew your baby’s gender. You had a name all picked out; a closet full of infant clothes. You thought this time…THIS was going to be it! Holding that baby in your arms felt so real, you could just taste life as a Mama, that life was so close. Now your baby…well, never did you imagine that you would be picking out a coffin and paying for funeral expenses. Your baby was born early and stillborn. How can a good God allow this to happen? Where did you go wrong? What did you do to deserve all of this? Mama…I see you. Despite not having those babies to hold and rock in your arms…you too are a Mama! God’s shoulders are big enough to handle your hurt and anger. He feels your pain. He catches every tear that you cry. He desires to wrap his big arms around you and hold you. We live in a fallen, imperfect world. Death is just as sure of a thing as life. God sees the desires of your heart. Don’t lose hope!
Then there is you, pretty Mama. Oh, I think I may hurt most of all for you. Your life looks perfect on the outside. You have it all, or so it seems. The big, beautiful house, the nice vehicles, closets full of name brand clothing; your hair and makeup and kids always look so put together. You are the president of the PTA and first to volunteer in your child’s classroom. Make cookies for the bake sale? No problem! Your kids all get straight A’s and excel in every, extracurricular anything, that they pursue. And your husband, he has that high-paying, prestigious career. You get invited to all of the fancy parties by everybody who is anybody. Yep, you’ve got it all together and life is perfect. Right?
The truth is…inside those walls…behind closed doors…you are crumbling. Not just you, but your entire family. You have turned a blind eye to all of those “late nights” and “out-of-towns” your husband has “career obligations.” Your kids…well, you give them anything they want so that they will see you as the “cool mom” and “favorite parent.” It’s often so much easier to just give them things instead of saying “no” and hearing their snarky comments, back-talk and teenage tantrums. Your Ladie’s Night Outs are just another opportunity to compare and compete and downsize anyone who may closely “measure up.” Mama, I see you. You are hurting and not ready to see your life for what it really is. Healing and change cannot come until you are ready to be honest with yourself and those you love.
Mamas. I see you. All of you. If there is one thing that I can say that I want you to walk away with is this…You are NOT a failure. You were chosen to be that baby’s Mama. It was no accident. God gave you that child or those beautiful children because he sees you as fit…able…capable for the job! He hears those guilty thoughts that so easily get stored up inside. The questions that ask, “am I able? Am I good enough? Will my babies somehow turn out lacking in some way?”
Mama, I see you. For many of you, I have walked in the same shoes. If only I could give you a hug. Tell you that everything is going to be alright. Tell you that you…just being you; being present and loving on those babies every chance that you get…speaks volumes to their hearts. Your actions say to them “You matter. I’m here for you.”
Mama, when God placed that tiny little baby into your arms, He…the Creator of the universe. The One who spoke, “let there be light” and established day and night. The same God who hung stars and galaxies and told oceans where to start and stop; that same God wove your child’s figure together in your womb (or into your heart, adoptive mamas). Those perfect toes and nose and tiny little fingers, He had it all planned out even before time began. He knew that child would be yours! He breathed the breath of life into your baby’s lungs and set her rhythmic heartbeat. This is the same God who ever so gently cradles your face, Mama. He wipes every tear and gently lifts your chin so that He can stare into your beautiful eyes. The ones that He too created.
He says, “Mama. Precious Mama. I love you. And…you…
YOU are doing a GOOD job!”