The Hard Reality Of Motherhood

little girl holding color pens

Do you ever feel like the hard reality of motherhood takes precedence over every other important thing you feel like you should be able to do too? You’re not alone!

by Jordan Paul | Jordan Paul, passionately passionate about all the passions…and bread, comes at you with spunk and honesty as she’s trying to balance life as a tandem-breastfeeding mom of two girls, small business owner, and non-cleaning housewife. You can find her roaming the aisles of Aldi, mindlessly humming The Alphabet. Follow her on Facebook.

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“Everyone wants to save the world, but no one wants to help mom with the dishes.” 

That’s seems to be the case these days–and by these days, I mean a week and a half after Hurricane Ian hit the place I’ve called home for the past seven years. 

Before kids, if something happened close by, I’d been able to get my boots on the ground and start doing the dirty work and heavy lifting. 

  • Tornadoes? Started gathering supplies immediately, cleaned up debris. 
  • Hurricane Irma pummeled Southwest Florida? Lifted trees off cars. 
  • Friends going through a divorce? Here comes Jordan, carrying bottles of wine in each arm. 
Photo Credit: Lindsay Tombo

But now? Well, now I’m sitting in my unscathed house with my two little children, stacking blocks for the 80th time and cleaning up mac-n-cheese off the floor. I’m scrolling social media watching every-day people become heroes in seconds, as they literally save people from the trenches of the battlegrounds… and I’m wishing for that type of day, too. 

Instead, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that my purpose right now isn’t in the “battlefield”… it’s in the “mission-field”, where I’m called to raise my children and spend my days loving them with as much strength as I’d have used to start a chainsaw.  

The lines of any type of fieldwork- battle, mission or otherwise- are blurred. There’s always a longing for a different job, more exciting task, bigger responsibility. I’m sure people who have lost their homes and possessions are wishing for a mundane day like mine. 

I’m certainly not using anyone’s tragedy to boost my own soul-soothing cause, but we can admit that it feels good to get to work and see your work make a difference. It is energizing to see the literal sweat drip from the brow and know that because of your hard work, lands have been cleared, things have been restored. 

But in motherhood, it often takes years to see any of the hard work come to fruition. No one cares that the sweat dripping off your brow is because you’ve been on your hands and knees scrubbing crayon off the wall or folding clothing that will be dumped out of the baskets at bedtime. Because the truth of it is, you’re going to have to do the same thing tomorrow. Whereas, work to help people who have lost everything is appreciated, celebrated, captured. In our kids, we’re just hoping we’ve taught enough for them to muster out a simple “thank you.” Not too many newscasters knocking at the doors to do an interview about that. 

I remember the first time my oldest repeated the animal sounds when asked what each one made. All those around were so impressed that she was so cute and smart. I was gleaming inside with pride as I knew that Mommy was the one who taught her… but how could I possibly say, “while others were cleaning up hurricane debris off the beach, I taught my child how to ‘moo’ on command.” It’s ridiculous to even write… but it’s the hard reality of motherhood. 

There will be millions of occurrences where you get to stand witness to your hard work being displayed through your children, but you will never have the recognition you deserve. That fact makes it even harder to come to terms with the idea that your mission needs to be in your home right now. 

So to the mamas who feel how I feel, here’s a few dear words of encouragement:

  1. The ones who matter most are watching
    • We recently drove up and down storm-affected streets and we were emotionally wrecked at the sight. My toddler asked if the mess was made by “Ian.” When we confirmed, she said, “now we go help?” The fact that our days are lived in a way that she knows that we are helpers is enough to momentarily fill my good “mom”ent bucket. Our rhetoric in our home is simply, “be a blessing.” But that she knows that it’s more than words? Well, we are doing it right. And I’d bet you are, too. 
  2. Your work will never be over
    • Maybe you’re torn because you can’t help in the battlegrounds TODAY. But later, you will be needed. It’s like early postpartum days. We go through these steps to make sure new mom and baby are okay the first few weeks. But then what? The care fades, texts and visits stop. WHY DOES THAT HAPPEN!? It’s down the road that matters, a month or more later, when moms are expected to be baby-wearing, breastfeeding, cleaning, cooking, bounced-back robots. What I mean is, when all of the world goes back to their own reality, there will still be a spot for you to help when and where you can; in the house and outside of it. 
  3. It doesn’t always take a disaster
    • There are opportunities to help “serve” every day. Make your children a part of it. Ask if help is needed to get something off of a shelf for someone. Cover someone on the way to their car with your umbrella. Pick up a piece of trash off the ground. Instead of being upset that we’re homebound because of children, take them along for the ride. Show them that humbling yourself and acting in a way that serves others is a beautiful trait and habit to carry through life. We teach our children lessons every day; sometimes we use words…

To paraphrase Dantès in The Count of Monte Cristo

“Life is a storm, my young friend… What makes you an awesome mom is what you do when that storm comes.”

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