It’s 1:30 am and she beckons once again. Amidst the coughing, the crying, and the sleep in my eyes I trudge upstairs when all I want to do is snuggle further down under the covers. Instead, I comfort and rock my sweet almost three year old like she’s a tiny baby once again.
When your children are sick, everything changes. The rhythms of life no longer follow their prescribed pattern; instead, crying, tissues, and lots of screen time take precedence. Life no longer gives even the illusion of permitting me to steal moments for myself—I am completely at the mercy of a sick toddler.
Children don’t have the ability to weather sickness with rational thinking and a long-term vision (let’s be real, many adults don’t either). Kids briefly run around then collapse and cry when they realize they don’t have what it takes to play like normal. They don’t want to take medicine, rest, drink lots of liquids, and wait for their bodies to catch up. So, they get frustrated and need lots of grace, patience, and cuddles.
For parents, this means we rearrange our lives, once again, for these little people we love so much. This week, I lost sleep, skipped the gym, missed out on meetings with friends, and threw out my blog schedule because important things needed to happen in the unseen moments.
But I resent weeks like this. I crave accomplishment and recognition, but they linger just out of my reach.
Our world leads us to believe that the valuable things in life only happen if others see them.
We celebrate finished products and forget the hard work behind the scenes. We decorate our homes each season, not to enhance our joy, but to impress our friends with our “Pinterest-y” skills. Our families go to the pumpkin patch or the apple orchard, not for a day of fun, but for the cute pictures we want to post on Instagram.
Unconsciously, we ask ourselves, “If no one saw us carve a pumpkin, does it really matter?”
We struggle with thoughts of, “Unless I tell someone else, my nighttime labors of love with my children will go unnoticed.”
Of course, we never say these statements out loud. Our words sound too ridiculous. But our hearts reflect this in ways we often don’t acknowledge.
This betrayal of my heart comes out on those nights when I lose sleep. My selfishness rears its ugly head when I would rather read under a blanket by myself than comfort my sick child. Her cough becomes an instrument of annoyance rather than a sound that stirs my compassion.
In those moments, I need to know that I am seen.
What I do in the dark hours of the night, when no one else is around, matters.
When my house is in disarray and piles of laundry litter the floor, my life matters.
Slowly but surely, God shows me that he sees me and that he approves of me. He wants to know me, even in those quiet moments of desperation; he sees me when my arms are full but sleep is all I want.
Unseen by Sara Hagerty currently graces my nightstand and begins my day each morning. Her words of reassurance are a balm to my soul. The subtitle speaks for itself, “The gift of being hidden in a world that loves to noticed.”
Another book I bought months ago that I really need to dive into is The Quotidian Mysteries by Kathleen Norris. I first heard about this book on the What Should I Read Next? podcast as one that celebrates life with God in the everyday moments. Norris says in The Quotidian Mysteries,
Ironically, it seems that it is by the means of seemingly perfunctory daily rituals and routines that we enhance the personal relationships that nourish and sustain us.
I need to know and be reminded that my role as mom is vital—even when my life is not social media “perfect”. My life revolves around the unseen moments and it’s time for me to embrace them. When I wash the dishes, fold the laundry, shop for groceries—these tasks matter.
No matter what your occupation, relationship status, or season of life, being seen and known is valuable and essential. But maybe not in the ways our culture typically seeks. Perhaps now is the time for resting and abiding. In the hidden places and the quiet spaces.
Where do you feel invisible and unseen? Whose acknowledgement and attention do you seek? How can you find value and dignity in the unseen places? Let me know in the comments below.