When I look at mothers, I value the muscles you can’t see…
If we are fortunate, we have friends or family members that tell us how strong we are. I have someone in my life that champions me. And, I appreciate that. But those on the outside looking in only get a glimpse. Because until you are a mom, you are not able to comprehend what it takes to survive.
Moms have the endurance of long-distance runners. Every day is a marathon. It feels like a sprint but it is a marathon. As soon as she is out of bed – actually, before that…as soon as she is awake – she is going. There is so much to do and life demands a consistent pace if there is to be any hope of getting even a portion of it completed. If this marathoner appears to be breaking stride or shortening the distance, don’t be fooled. This woman is always moving swiftly – thinking, planning, preparing, and plotting the entire time.
Mothers are incredible jugglers. You have not seen someone multi-task until you’ve seen her handle a day. Yes, we all know what studies say about multi-tasking but she proves them wrong and takes it to a new level. Making dinner, while correcting homework, starting the laundry, answering a teacher’s email, signing a permission slip and answering the phone, all while asking the kids about their day and while still wearing her work clothes. And, dinner makes it to the table on time, and the kids feel none of the effects of this whirlwind because her focus is seemingly only on them. Now that is impressive, and it is only one hour of her day. That juggle is nonstop and requires incredible muscle.
Mothers are tremendous containment specialists. When there is no one at home to confide in, to share the burden of decision making, advocating and disciplining, she needs to contain that frustration, struggle and self-doubt and put it aside as best she can. Mom has grit. There is not enough time or energy to let that doubt and fear creep in. But it is there. It is always there. So, she shoves it down or back or into a box and moves ahead with her head high, knowing (or at least hoping that) she is doing the best she can.
No one sees all of this. And, yet, it takes a more strength than most can imagine. Not even the mom’s closest confidant truly sees the triumphs and tears, the disappointments and the dance parties, the hard days and harder nights. But in all of those moments, the real muscles are formed and refined and flexed. Mom doesn’t worry about who sees. She isn’t looking for sympathy. She doesn’t have time for that. She might need a little understanding and a little grace, or just a knowing smile from a fellow mom. She might not know where the strength she needs comes from. But it is there. Quietly growing and building, depleting and then building again.
It is those muscles, the ones no one sees, that help moms push through, carry on and strive for more.