Dear invisible Mom,
I see you. And yes, I see that you're wearing the same jeans as yesterday with the shirt you wore to bed. I see the bags under your eyes because your youngest wanted to sleep with you (and by with you he meant on you). I see the chipped toenail polish that you leave on, on purpose, because at least chipped polish says you cared at one point, right?! I see that you are going for the smokey eye look, and I don't mean the sultry one, more like the 'yesterday's makeup you just wiped with a baby wipe this morning' one. I see the extra weight you carry around your waist that you just hide with flowy shirts because you desperately want to get rid of it, but we all know that hiding in the pantry eating a chocolate chip cookie or two right before dinner is the only thing that gets you through the "witching hour." I see you... because I am you.
Recently, the stomach bug swept its way through my house. The first victim was my little boy, Titus, and then slowly it took us all down. This sickness was nothing short of the pits of hell in a virus. I haven't felt like that since I was a kid and ended up getting so sick that I was admitted to the hospital for dehydration. The difference between then and now is: I'm a mom. I was sick, but caring for others. At one point, I was nursing a baby, holding a puke bucket for another kid, and gagging the whole time myself. TMI? You're welcome. Leading up to this virus I had already been sliding down the slippery slope of feeling under-appreciated and under-valued. There was an inch of separation between God and myself and the devil took a mile. Throughout the stretch of everyone's sickness I was overcome with the devastation of being unseen.
I sobbed and I ached as the mess around me made me feel like my janitorial duties were more valued than I was. And before my husband gets blamed as the bad guy, he did spend the day with the baby and traveled to three different stores to get me chicken noodle soup for dinner. But sometimes the sneaky snake just fixes your eyes on the lack and it consumes you.
It was my attempt to solve the mess myself without God's love and grace that left me believing the lies. "I'm unloved. No one cares if I'm sick or hurting. I give and give and never receive. I'm only good if I just keep my expectations low and my head down and do my duties. That's all I'm good for. Even God doesn't notice me. I'm longing for care and I'm left alone." I struggle with deep and big feelings; feelings of anxiety and sadness. These lies in my head can turn into hating everything about myself quickly because if others don't see me, they must not like me, and if they don't like me, why should I like me?
Enough was enough. I got everyone settled in bed or with dinner and I hopped on my bike. For five miles it was just me and Him. I put on a playlist and traveled the barely lit street. Every song had lyrics jumping out at me. I cried. I smiled. I did a little bike jig to Meghan Trainor. God met me right there on my path. My heart felt warm and truths felt solid.
Later that night, in the stillness of my house (after all my kids' attempts at sabotaging bedtime with water needs and potty breaks subsided), I was binge watching Parenthood and watched an episode where God was speaking to me again loud and clear. The parents were going through some marital struggles and began seeing a counselor. The husband was putting into practice the technique he learned. Every time he was about to fight with his wife, or go off the handle and create a big mess, he stopped and looked right at her and said, "I hear you. I see you."
And there it was. The solution to all the feelings and hurt I had been experiencing. Like that wife, all I really LONGED for was to be seen and acknowledged by those around me. And not seen on the surface like all the things I mentioned before, but seen in my soul and my needs and my heart. All of that started relationally by first being connected with God. I had to stop in the midst of the untruths, the self hate, the doing it alone, and I had to let God tell me, "I hear you, I see you." Simply because He does. In all my flaws and sins and sickness, He sees me, not just my Clorox wipes.
Realizing this for myself isn't where the magic stops either. The magnificence is, after allowing myself to be seen and loved by God throughout the mess, that I see others. That we reach out to our friends, our family, our children and we really take a good look at them, too. And we let them know it. So with that being said, sweet friend, I see you. I hear you. All of you. You are valued. You are appreciated. You are needed and respected. You are loved by our God and by those around you.
Much unconditional love,
A fellow recovering invisible Mom
This is Candace. She hates long walks on the beach and would prefer a short drive to get a donut. Her creative spirit leaves her husband constantly guessing which room she'll decorate next and her kids requesting elaborate birthday parties. She'll tell you the truth, even if you don't want to hear it. But don't worry, she'll make you laugh to soften the blow. Her heart longs to share the realness of her life and provide someone else a "me too" in a moment of isolation. Words are her thing; she writes to heal. God grasped a hold of Candace as a teenage mama, and she's been desperate for His love and sensitive to His voice everyday since.