Over the past week I have planned and cooked meals, scrubbed toilets, purchased white string cheese for one household member and orange stick cheese for another, ordered more tissues and dishsoap to arrive on my doorstep, and vacuumed up dog hair under the table.
I’ve filled out the school permission slips and book orders that I found in a backpack. I’ve changed my kids closets over for both size and seasons; today I’m diving into the shoes to do the same. I’ve sent pictures to be developed for “Star of the Week” day at preschool, then packed the photos up in a labeled envelope and put it alongside the requested favorite book in a backpack.
I’ve restocked the shower with body wash and distributed toilet paper to all the various empty rolls. I’ve wiped counters and cleared the table in one fell swoop. I’ve prayed with and for my kids and tucked little curls behind little ears at night — both ears, not just one, because I know she likes it tucked behind both.
I’ve brushed and wiggled teeth, hollered for hands to be washed when I know they’ve gotten dirty before I’ve seen them, and closed the lid to the dog food bin lest mice come looking for a feast. I’ve explained long words to little learners and texted pictures to grandma. I’ve tossed beloved shirts into the wash and poured water in the dog’s bowl. I’ve watered the preschool plant project and moved it into the sunshine to try and keep it alive another day.
All in a week. A very typical, run-of-the-mill week. Extraordinary all up in the mundane.
Because I am a woman, I constantly perform acts of tiny service that go unseen. All day, every day. The bittiest of details, done with barely a thought. With only thirty-five years into being a woman and six years into mothering, this is a finely tuned, carefully honed skill and the mark of the craft.
And because you are a woman, I know you do the same.
We are the keepers of the minutiae, of the details that make a home run and hearts sing. We are the knowers of small things, of favorites and things not-so-loved. We can read a heart in one glance. We can heal with a hug. We can calm with a word. We are the hosts of each other, the middle-of-the-night texters, the hearts that reach out when we feel a friend needs us.
Moms, caretakers, grandmas, babysitters, teachers . . . Women are the unseen do-ers. We are the people of hidden service, who have learned to do things swiftly and silently in a second-nature sort of way. At times, that has rendered me feeling powerless and small. Unimportant and unimpressive. Even though I know that if I disappeared with tasks left undone (God forbid the beloved t-shirt went unwashed or the dog hair remained un-vacuumed for a week) and all the things I’d set in place fell apart, it’s easy to throw an “I don’t matter” pity party for myself. It’s easy for me to look to my husband, kids, co-workers, and friends for affirmation that may never come.
It’s a good thing we have a God who adores women. We have a God who appeared first to women after rising, who believes in women and has used their hands throughout history to do His good work, who sees us — both as we are and as we could be. We have a God who never actually said that motherhood is the highest calling, but in His wisdom gifts us individually to make up a whole body, beautiful and full.
Each and every one of those invisible tasks is seen, etched in His mind as He delights in you.
For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
He. Delights. In. You.
Yep, you. You, who are a weary mother. You, who are not a mom. You, in the office cubicle. You, who diligently serves on the behind-the-scenes committees at church. You, who texts your friends to check in. You, who hasn’t had an evening to herself in way, way too long. You, who loves being a mom. You, the woman who maintains countless unseen tasks, holds things together (sometimes by a thread) and balances plates like a boss.
You are beloved to Him. God delights in His daughters — whether they mother or not.
As kids, my own mom used to tell us, “I am woman. Hear me roar!” as she tarred the driveway, hung sheetrock in the basement, juggled our schedules and her jobs, and tenderly cared for her parents, her family and her friends. As we enter a weekend focused on mothers, followed by a season full of unseen tasks that threaten to overwhelm the hearts of the women who manage them . . . may we roar. May we celebrate our sisters as they find their own roars. And may we feel the glow of love from our God who adores, and sees every little thing.