It’s my birthday, or Mother’s Day, and while I would never say it, a little part of my heart is waiting for that letter.
You know which one.
The one your husband hand writes to you that’s about two pages long detailing all the ways he loves you, understands you, and sees the tiny sacrifices you make every day performing herculean acts of balance and time management. The one where he notices all the ways you take care of the family, and still manage to keep your own body and soul in decent order. This is the letter we all want, and the one that never comes.
For some reason, not receiving this letter causes me a considerable amount of pain, and I decided this year to delve deep and figure out why.
I monitored my time for one week in thirty minute increments and wrote down everything I did in each thirty minute slot. My goal was to find out what I was actually doing, and for which of all these things I was juggling, I needed validation the most.
Something else happened instead…
Holy. Moly. After observing my activity for a solid week I came to a startling conclusion. At the risk of sounding self-congratulatory – I am super-woman.
No really, I seriously am.
I was astounded at how much I was getting done, all while being a genuine and loving wife and mother at the same time. Somehow, I was facing down my inner demons and was actually making progress in my interior life in the areas of self-control, discipline, and patience all while running an entire household and raising two children with purpose and sincere effort. Not a perfect effort, but a consistent one.
As I reviewed these days of observation from the point of view of an outsider, something happened. All of the heartfelt validation, appreciation, and gratitude I had longed for welled up, inside of me, in appreciation OF ME. I was so deeply proud of myself. So proud of all the battles I have fought and won. So suddenly aware of all the toughness and strength I was bringing to the table.
So that letter happened. I wrote it to myself. And it was enough. And it was better than any letter the man I love could have crafted because unlike him, I possess a unique awareness not only of the exterior ways I am working on being the best wife, mother, and person I can be, but also all of the interior struggles and triumphs, large and small that fuel those exterior wins. I would like to share it with you, in hopes that you will see all the ways you too are truly amazing.
I see you.
I see how lonely you feel sometimes.
I see that you got up today and made breakfast, again, arranging everything just like your little sweethearts like it, dabbing the right amounts of honey in all the right spots, careful to not let anything touch on the plate, because it will make them happy.
I see you fill that cup of milk just one more time.
I see you stop and control your voice when your four-year-old mouthed off again.
I see you yell too, again. I know. It’s frustrating.
I see all the little five-minute chore sessions squeezed in between diapers , phone calls, kisses, appointments, delays, conflicts, bill paying, oil changes, and everything else.
I see all the work you put in to prepping food for the week, fruit/veggie smoothies for the littles, and planning healthy meals. That takes a lot of time and forethought, and I know you really hate it, but you do it every week.
I see you being a good friend, even when you were bone tired.
I see you totally slack off and do nothing for three nights in a row and I think that’s great. You really do deserve a break sometimes.
I see the love in your heart for your babies, I heard all your prayers and see all your thoughts, plans, hopes, and wishes for them.
I see your daily, hourly, and sometimes minute by minute struggle against chronic anxiety and your heroic efforts to keep that from being passed on to your children. I see you re-teaching yourself basic self calming and coping skills most people learned naturally, in your efforts to heal from your wounds, and start over.
I see all of your screw ups, all of your triumphs, all the times you lose your cool, and all the times you don’t and they are all a part of YOU.
I see how much mental energy you are putting into all of this and I am in awe of you. You are something else.
I am so grateful for you. I love you. I am so proud of you that I want to cry. You are a survivor and a fighter and an excellent wife and mother.
I encourage you to try this observation experiment and see if you won’t find out just how incredible YOU are doing, and write yourself the best love letter you’ll ever get.
P.S. Don’t wait for Mother’s Day or your birthday!