The Things You Didn’t See

“woman and a baby sitting on the ground” by Katie Emslie on Unsplash

You didn’t see me getting up at 3AM because our daughter couldn’t go back to sleep without a drink of water. You helped clean up the mess when she came back at 5AM feeling sick, but you didn’t see me stay up with her until she felt she could go back to bed again. You didn’t see me take her temperature, check her sheets, or tuck her back in. You didn’t see me retrieve a pacifier (or 5) for our screaming toddler — the one you had done the same for after cleaning up the 5AM mess. And you didn’t see me start a load of laundry because my blanket and my shorts were no longer clean enough to be used.

You dressed our son and took him to church, but you didn’t see me console our daughter who realized she was missing her friends and her weekly Sunday School lesson because she was sick. You didn’t see me looking online for Sunday School material to do our own lesson at home. And you probably won’t see me later this week talking with her teacher and picking up the coloring sheet from the lesson she missed.

You ran to the store and made lunch for everyone, but you didn’t see me struggling to keep our son from climbing all over his sick sister. You didn’t see me pick up the same toys 4 or 5 times after our toddler dumped them out to sit in the toy box. And you didn’t see me sigh as our toddler pulled apart piles of folded laundry that I had not yet put away.

You didn’t see me tuck the kids into bed for their afternoon nap. You didn’t see me move the crib to grab the 4 or 5 pacifiers that had again fallen there. You didn’t hear me explain to our preschooler why she still has to rest on the weekends — even though preschool has put an end to her weekday naps. You didn’t see me pull out her favorite comic book (the one you gave her) to entice her to lay down, even if she wouldn’t sleep.

You didn’t see me climb in bed next to you, eager for a nap of my own. You also didn’t see me get up to get our daughter a cup of water to drink. Or the snack she thought she needed. Or me refilling her class of water. You didn’t see me get up to turn on the light in her bedroom so she could play with her Barbies. And you didn’t see me help her put on her princess costume. You didn’t see me give up on a nap altogether and take her outside to play.

You didn’t see that my socks and shoes were soaking wet because our preschooler insisted on helping me water the garden. You didn’t see how our toddler ended up wet as well. You didn’t see me pull both of our kids around the yard in the wagon, and you didn’t see me scoop up our toddler and set him back in the wagon before he even realized he fell out.

You didn’t see me completing a screening of our preschooler to see if she can jump, balance, throw, and catch. You didn’t see her copying symbols and drawing pictures with sidewalk chalk — also for the screening. You didn’t see me pushing popsicles out of their wrappers or picking off pieces of grass after they were dropped on the ground.

You didn’t see me bathe the kids or get them in pjs. You didn’t hear me read them bedtime stories, help them with prayers, or give them good night kisses. You didn’t see me again move the crib to retrieve the 5 pacifiers that had again fallen out of reach.

You saw me checking Facebook, but you didn’t see that it was to help organize our church tailgate party and to learn that I had missed the first PTO meeting of the year. You didn’t see me enter my findings from our preschooler’s screening online in time to narrowly miss the deadline (and additional phone calls and notes from her school).

I’m doing my best, but I don’t think you believe that. You don’t realize that your frustrations create a sense of guilt in me. You don’t think I notice when you kick a toy because it’s in your walkway. You don’t think I hear when you complain to yourself about how the house is a mess. You say you’re not angry and that you don’t blame me, but your body language says otherwise.

But the truth is, I’m tired. I’m tired from doing all the things you don’t see. I’m tired because, like you, I see all the things that didn’t get done and it is often overwhelming.

And sometimes I’m resentful. I resent our friends without children. The ones who don’t have to worry about whether or not they can go somewhere or do something because they may not be able to find a babysitter. The ones who get to spend time with grown-ups at our church’s game nights, instead of playing “My Little Pony” and putting together puzzles with pictures of Anna and Elsa. The ones who get to eat their food while it’s still hot. They don’t realize the kind of freedom they have and at times it almost feels like they flaunt it.

I resent our friends who have children. The ones who post selfies with their kids. The ones who are constantly gushing about how great it is to be a mom. I love my kids, but I love being away from them sometimes too. Does that make me a bad mom? Is there something wrong with me that I don’t love every moment of being a parent? I look at the moms with 3 or 4 (or more) children and they seem to have everything together. Meanwhile, I forgot the diaper bag so the church nursery workers had to borrow a diaper for my toddler that was 2 sizes too big.

Am I doing this wrong?

And I’m becoming resentful of you. You who get to go all over the country for training while I’m stuck at home caring for our two children. You who can stay late to get things done at work, meanwhile I’m shutting things down mid-project to make sure I get to daycare no later than 5:15PM. You who has been working the last 5 years on your master’s and then your doctorate degree. You who still has 2 more years before you’re finished. Meanwhile, I have a bachelor’s degree totally unrelated to my job. Meanwhile, I’m waiting and keeping the kids out of your way so you can advance your degree and your career. Doesn’t my job pay a share of our bills? Aren’t my dreams important too?

That’s when I have to sit back and remind myself of all the things I forget.

I forget sometimes that sippy cups don’t wash themselves. I forget that grass naturally grows taller — not shorter, and someone has to mow it. I forget that batteries don’t replace themselves and that broken toys aren’t just magically fixed. I forget that hair (that may or may not be mine) does not spontaneously dislodge itself from the drain. I forget that working late nights and expanding your field of knowledge are what pay for a roof over our heads and food on our table. I forget that every step of the way, you are right there beside me, whether I see it or not.

This is just a rough patch. We’re not headed toward the “D Word” (unless you mean “Date Night” because we are long overdue). It’s more of a not-so-gentle reminder that we need to open our eyes to what’s going on in our own home. A reminder that we can’t just be physically present, we must also be emotionally engaged. We must be observant of the other person’s hard work and struggles. We need to be appreciative and encouraging.

That’s what makes a marriage work. It’s all the things we don’t always see.