A guest post by Nicole Lever
My appreciation for mothers began a few years ago when some of my closest girlfriends began the journey into motherhood. A conversation I had with one dear friend planted the first seed of gratitude.
It was summer vacation and we were on our way to a local beach. With her beach bag on one shoulder and diaper bag on her forearm, I watched her dig desperately for her fussing daughter’s teething ring. I stood there, naive to parenting, holding my iced coffee and phone. Quickly realizing that I was no help at all I said to her, “You are such a good mom.”
She looked up at me after a few seconds and dropped her bags to her feet. She said, “I really needed to hear that, Nicole. I don’t ever hear that.”
And so my admiration for mothers began.
I’ve been thinking about writing this for many years. It’s time now that other mothers see themselves through my lens as a child-free friend.
Hey Moms, This is What Your Friend Without Kids Really Thinks of You
I see selflessness.
I watch your meal getting cold while you’re busy nursing, and I notice how it doesn’t phase you.
I see your dreams put on hold, so you can give everything you have for your child; and you do it with such grace.
I see your exhaustion that you cover so well. I see the worry you feel when you find that unknown rash on your baby’s arm. I see your shopping trips filled with cute onesies, toddler shoes, tiny outfits, and toys, without one thing for yourself in your overflowing cart.
The stress you feel when you have to leave work for a sick child doesn’t go unnoticed. The projects that need your attention will be looked at another day. A little someone needs you at home; they need you to draw them an oatmeal bath, wipe their snotty nose, and empty the waste basket. Quite frankly, there is no place you’d rather be because no one brings them as much comfort as you.
The abandoned book lays on the coffee table with its dog-eared page. The over-crowded photo album in your phone is filled with gap-toothed smiles. The excitement when “mom brain” doesn’t fail you and you remember a friend’s birthday is contagious.
I see your frustration with a teething baby, and the pressure that weighs heavily on your shoulders when you have so much to do in the day and it’s only 8 AM. I hear about your long, sleepless nights because your child can’t shake the feeling that monsters are real. I feel your exasperation when you put your head down and say, “I’m so tired I could cry.” I see it.
Do you know what else I see?
I see love.
When you talk about your babies, all you do is glow. Do you know that about you? I love the way your voice changes when you tell me about a little someone saying, “I love you to the sun,” or “Hold on Moon, I need to go get my ladder!”
I watch you laugh with your child during cuddle sessions. Little hands reach out to you. The excitement of that warm moment of waking a sleeping baby from a nap, knowing that he is never more interested in you than in that precious moment is tangible.
Your love of family days, weekends filled with pizza-making lunch dates, and movies is what you look forward to the most. And although you may wonder what the other half of the world is doing with their time, your love grounds you.
Memory books made with tenderness, where a single hand print will stand unchanged for decades to come, sit sweetly on your shelves.
Your messy house, yes, the one you warn me about before I come over, is overflowing with love. Do you realize how loved your home is? Those hand-made cards, colorful Legos, and tattered dolls all belong to your child. Bitty’s made it through theme parks, movie theaters, school days, car trips, park visits, plane rides, and friends’ houses, all because of love.
I see thoughtfulness.
Your precious kid-free time could be spent resting, but instead you make time for your nephew’s soccer game. You cook multiple meals for a friend whose father recently passed away. You check in, letting them know you’re thinking of them.
You care for others while you are also scheduling your own life: attending appointments, picking up prescriptions, getting that work project finally completed, cooking dinner, and folding the laundry. You continue to nurture your relationships even though your life hasn’t slowed down; it has ironically done the opposite.
You do so much.
Your strength shines through daily.
Please tell me how you took care of your toddler while pregnant with the flu? Is it even possible? How do you manage to carry a car seat in and out of your car during -7 degree winds just so you can buy milk and toothpaste?
Or harder still, how do you find the strength to tell your child that someone they love with their whole heart has gone to heaven? How do you witness your child’s first heartbreak? A heartbreak that opens their eyes to how the world can be a sad, unsafe place. You need to hear how strong you are.
You carry that three-tiered funfetti cake for nine months. I feel the tightness of your belly and am completely amazed you are growing life inside you. You point out your baby’s tiny foot and bring my hand there to feel a faint kick. I am mesmerized by your baby’s position in the womb.
I hear your labor stories and see your tiger stripes that you strenuously earned. The story of you seeing your baby for the very first time never gets old. Keep telling it.
I’ve felt your loneliness during your transition to parenthood and the changes you didn’t expect life to throw at you. I marvel at you when you talk about how your body has changed forever, and I try to relate. I watch you point to your stomach and proudly say, “I carried two babies in that stomach, and it kept them safe.” Your body was your child’s first home. The next time you need to feel strong, remember that.
Above all this, I see the future.
Days right now are long. You’re exhausted. You wonder when or if you’ll ever feel carefree again. You remember the days when you were driving down the road without worrying if the diaper bag is packed. The lows drag you down, and time seems like it’s escaping you.
I want you to know that baby you’re holding, that baby asleep in his crib, he could be someone’s paramedic one day. You are raising a future teacher who will touch hundreds of lives or the nurse who heals them. You are raising the young man who carries kindness with him, or a young woman who befriends the elderly. You’re raising future artists, mayors, writers, pilots, firefighters, and activists.
Your child is the answer to our future. Your baby will grow up and think of miraculous ideas, cultivate loving and strong relationships, tie a child’s shoe, comfort the dying, fall in love, kiss passionately, explore the world, help the needy, rescue the kitten, smile at the lonely, and lay beneath thousands of blue skies.
Your child will carry you with them as they go out into this big universe. Their hand, being made of your hand, will leave your fingerprints on whatever they touch.
Mothers, I salute you.
Through my lens, you are Captain Marvel.
You are an encourager, peacemaker, and friend.
You are the drawn bubble bath, folded jammies, and homemade pancakes in the morning.
You are the warmed-up car, stocked fridge, stroked cheek, and countless bedtime stories.
Realize what you do every single day and take notice. The credit that you don’t give yourselves is astonishing.
Now, pack up the kids, drive them to my house, and pour yourself a drink. Everyone knows you deserve it.