The other day as I was scrolling through Facebook, I saw a video of my cousin, a young mom, doing squats while holding her nearly two year old. It was an adorable video showing a mom taking care of herself while taking care of and setting a great example for her children. Watching her smiling in that video, I was at once connected to my own feelings as a young mother who had given up her career to stay home. So often and for so long back then, without social media (boy am I old – my baby just turned 15!) I felt invisible. I felt like I was working harder as a new mom than I’d ever worked in my life and yet no one was there to see it or acknowledge it.
Though social media has given parents an audience, we know that’s only the highlight reel. Those Instagram snapshots and Facebook updates don’t often illustrate the real effort it takes day in and day out to be a parent. Because I’ve been there, wearing that heavy cloak of invisibility, I want to let you know that I do see your efforts, your love, your hard work. I see how hard you are working to have a highlight to share, and this is for you:
To the mom who has three kids under five who stays home with them. Who gave up her career – put it on hold – to be present with her children every day. This mom who buys the healthiest food she can afford while not depriving her children completely, who keeps the house straightened while also allowing her kids to be creative, and who even finds time to work out now and then. I see you! I see how hard you’re working. Just hang in there, you’re doing great!
To the dad whose kids are growing up and demanding more of his money and generally being more demanding. The dad who supports his family and goes to work everyday to make enough money so that they can have decent cars and a house in a nice neighborhood with good schools. The dad who despite the demands of his job comes home and coaches his child’s team or drives his child to piano lessons. I see you! I see how demanding your role is. You are so appreciated!
To the mom who has a child with special needs. This mom whose dreams of how her life as a mom would look are so different from how it’s turned out. This mom who knows her time of taking care of her child with preschool needs will be far longer than the other moms she knows. This mom who wants to go to work just to get a break, but feels guilty for feeling that way. This mom on whom the physical and emotional demands are far greater than on most parents. I see you! I see how emotionally drained you are, but yet you’re holding it together. You are so strong!
To the single moms and dads who are on their own; with no other adult to talk to at the end of the day. No help with the kids, with the house, with the bills, with the dishes. The single mom who takes her kids to the grocery store, every single time, and doesn’t remember the last time she went shopping alone. The single dad who doesn’t know another dad in town who would understand what it’s like to do everything in the house; the cooking, the cleaning, and taking care of the kids. These single parents who have to hold it together 100% of the time at home and at work because there isn’t anyone else. I see you! I see how tired you are, but yet you keep going. You are incredible!
To the parents who are struggling with problems themselves; addictions, relationships, depression. Parents who struggle every day, but still want the best for their children. Parents who hide their problems as best as they can, but know their children see too much. Parents who blame themselves for any issues their children have and for whom guilt is a constant companion. These parents who despite the demons they fight within, take care of their children as best they can and love them more than they love themselves. I see you! I see how difficult life is for you right now. You are a fighter and will thrive!
I see all of you! I see you at the grocery store. I see you working at the office. I see you coaching my children from the sidelines. I see you waiting in line to pick up your kids from school. I know what you do every day isn’t easy. I see how hard you work. I can tell you’re trying to do your best and don’t always feel you’re quite there. I see your effort, your love, your emotion, and I think you are amazing! I see you and I’m one of you. We’re in this together.