Every morning I put away the clean dishes. Every day I’m asked, what’s for breakfast? What’s for lunch? What’s for dinner? Every week I do laundry. Every week there’s more to do.
A clean house only lasts long enough to snap a photo, proof that I didn’t dream it: the house was indeed once clean.
The days of my life are set on an endless loop. When I attempt to make an inventory of my achievements, it just seems pointless. By nightfall, I have not produced much—unless you count dirty dishes, toys littering the floor, and stacks of clean laundry waiting to be folded.
When my child is asleep and I stand in the silent house, I sometimes feel deflated and discouraged. What did I get done? I ask myself. And the first answer that pops into my mind often is, Nothing. But that’s a lie.
I may have produced nothing today, at least nothing that the eyes can still see, but I’ve accomplished much. The laundry remained unfolded because there were more important things to do.
Today I fed my daughter wholesome and delicious foods. I gave her what she needed to grow strong and healthy.
Today I sat next to her over breakfast as she practiced counting, reading, and handwriting. We learned a new quote. We discovered a new Aesop’s fable. We made a (small) dent in our library stack.
Today I read her books. I brought beautiful words into our home. I welcomed wise, witty, clever authors and let them teach my daughter in prose and verse. I wove their stories into the fabric of her very life. Some will stay with her forever.
Today we met friends at the playground. We produced nothing there except for laughter and joy-filled beads of sweat. We nurtured relationships. We expressed love.
Today we hugged and kissed—a lot!
My husband produces martial arts certification courses. He has earned worldwide recognition and over 5,000 friends on Facebook. He was elected Self Defense Instructor of the Year in 2015 and inducted into Black Belt Magazine’s Hall of Fame. His DVDs and books are real, tangible, and permanent. They will still exist tomorrow and ten years from now.
Want to know a secret? I used to be jealous of this. I spend my days buttering toast, wiping noses, and brushing teeth. Teaching phonics, skip counting, and multiplication. None of this puts me into any hall of fame.
But it did earn me something very special: the honorable title of Mom. And my daughter proclaims that I am, “the best mommy in the whole wide world” often enough that I may soon start to believe her.
What I produce on a day-to-day basis barely ever lasts a few hours. But I get to teach, shape, and influence a human being. What I accomplish in raising my daughter is beyond anything I could have ever imagined. That’s what I’m left with at the end of the day.
Someday I hope to own the secure knowledge that I didn’t shy away from the greatest challenge of my life, and that in so doing, I transformed it into my greatest accomplishment: being a good wife and a good mother. Society says it is nothing.
To me it is everything.
“It’s not about what we produce but what we’ve accomplished. That’s what we’re left with at the end of the day” —Chris Bailey
QUESTION: What are some of the things you accomplish that don’t earn you formal recognition?
CHALLENGE: Write down an accomplishment that would not earn recognition by society’s criteria but that is important to you, such as meeting a parenting or personal goal that builds your strength as a mother. Try to make a habit of recording your accomplishments more regularly and spend some time appreciating the good things that come from them.
Edited by Lisa Hoelzer and Katie Carter.
Sink photo provided by the author.
Feature Image from Shutterstock; graphics by Julie Finlayson.