I was not prepared for the invisibility inherent in motherhood. I didn’t realize that so much of my daily routine would be behind-the-scenes work that nobody would see or notice. Even now, I am continually surprised by how much of the work of motherhood is hidden. In the early days, it was multiple diaper changes, loads of laundry, and seemingly endless middle-of-the-night feeding sessions when it felt like I was the only one awake in the entire world. As my kids have grown, the behind-the-scenes work has extended to include chauffeur, event coordinator, chief education officer, and a hundred other little matters. The seemingly endless feeding sessions remain (that’s one part that didn’t change!). While it is true there is a generally steady request for “Mom, Mom, Mom” at any given hour of the day—proving that I am, in fact, not invisible—sometimes I wonder if my family sees me, an individual person, behind the work being done. The repetitive tasks make me wonder if anyone ever noticed the clothes were clean, the kitchen was tidied, or the food was cooked, before it all must be done again.
Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain (1 Cor 15:58).
Today, in the second reading, I am reminded by St. Paul that in doing the work of the Lord, God himself sees me. This work of the Lord includes the corporal and spiritual works of mercy—works that are embraced in the hidden labor of motherhood. We feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty at our own kitchen tables. We clothe the naked with every diaper change, toddler wardrobe adjustment, or seasonal clothing switch. We counsel the doubtful, comfort the sorrowful, and forgive all injuries on a weekly, if not daily (perhaps hourly?), basis. It may not be exciting, or even visible, but it is good work.
God sees the good work you are doing.
He sees you balancing your baby on one hip and laundry on the other. He sees you helping with homework while you make dinner to feed your family. He sees you taking your children to appointments and therapies, managing medicines, and comforting them when they’re sick. He sees you teaching little hands how to fold in prayer. He sees you soothing sibling rivalries, calming teenage angst, and attempting to inculcate virtue. All these works are done within the four walls of your home, but they will take a whole lifetime to complete. And they will require our full devotion—it takes a long time to prepare our children to ultimately leave our homes to do their own work.
Be firm, steadfast. As both today’s Psalm and the Gospel tell us, our good work shall bear good fruit, “even in old age.” This silent, seemingly invisible work of motherhood is not in vain.