What In The World Did I Do All Day?

by Rachel Marie Martin
Originally Published: 
Image via Shutterstock

The other day I drove back to school, in heavy falling snow, with a pair of worn out almost-hole-in-the-knee Columbia blue snow pants for my 9-year-old, Caleb.

You see, it started snowing just as we were leaving for school, and as we pulled up in that drop off line – don’t you love the line? – he looked at me and said “Mom!! Mom!! I don’t have my snow pants!” Of course he didn’t. I asked him if he wanted me to go home and get them, but he knew I was busy and getting ready for a business trip and that he forgot them and I heard him mumble “no, it’s OK, mom, I don’t need to go outside.”

So I drove home.

And stayed at home for approximately 92 minutes, until the thickness of the snowflakes and the piling up of snow made me decide to grab those snow pants and trek on unplowed roads covered in four inches of snow to his school with those going outside to play is mandatory with snow pants pants.

“What did one of your kids forget?”

That’s what I was asked when I came in and handed over those critical recess pants to the gals in the office. And then, then out of the blue I blurted out…

“Isn’t this what us moms do?”

And it is.

Sometimes we go through life, day in and day out, doing the same things over and over and over. Tucking sheets just so and washing laundry and inside outing t-shirts that our kids threw in the wash. Or we scrub out crayon from the dryer or wipe up footprints on the floor and sort out toys. We print out pictures for school projects and do experiments and listen as our fifth grader tells us tales from his locker.

We rock our babies and hold our toddlers’ hands and make dinner and lunch and pack lunches and cut oranges and apples and dole out Goldfish and drive to school and work and back. We put hair in ponytails and help with teeth brushing and read the same story again and again and again. We help them learn to tie their shoes and put peanut butter on bread and be independent.

And sometimes, if you’re like me, you’ll get to the end of the day and look around and wonder what in the world did I do all day?

We’re looking for the big things – like the weekend I went stir crazy and decided to paint my bedroom furniture and the walls and then my family room (I must have had extra caffeine or something). Or the trips to Legoland or the American Girl Store or all of that. And in the looking for those big moments, the little normal everyday beautiful things can be lost.

Like trekking to the grade school with snow pants.

Chances are you have those moments. In fact, I’m telling you that you do.

You have these moments that are unbelievably beautiful – not because they’re extraordinary, but because they are the moments that make up motherhood. They are the things that you do that no one sees. No one acknowledges them, really. There aren’t gold stars given out for the days that you stay up all night with a little one with an earache (let me tell you – that just happened in my world). Or for the times when you have to coax a 7-year-old into laying still so you can put ear drops in.

There isn’t an award ceremony for the times when you fought for your kids and marched into doctors’ offices and demanded answers. Or when you decided to spend an extra five minutes coloring. Or when you simply laughed and danced with your kids. Or for trip after trip after trip to school with kids in the back and coats zipped and hats on the heads and sweet moments together.

What about the battles? The times where it’s you against the 3-year-old and the decision to not get dressed? Or the meals made again and again and again? Or the times when you take electronics away from your middle schooler because they sassed back and the day turns into an epic battle? Or the macaroni and cheese dished up and the orange cups opened with juice spilled everywhere and the juice poured and cups cleaned?

And all of the times when you were so tired but just kept on going.

Don’t discount the strength in being a tired mom who simply mothers.

I know it’s easy to wonder what you got done every day. And to judge your day’s success by the completion of your to-do list. But listen – that to-do list? It’s a guide. Not a grading tool.

Checking every box doesn’t make you a better mom.

It just means you checked every box that day.

Sometimes real life happens when we move away from the list – it happens in the margins and moments and within the structure of our days. It happens in the five minutes waiting for your middle schooler to get picked up for school as you laugh about something he saw on Youtube.

Relationships and motherhood strength happens all the time. You, in fact, do so much more than you give yourself credit for. No more dismissing your days and wondering what you’ve accomplished. No.

Caleb might not have thought anything about those snow pants showing up. Well, he was probably relieved because what kid doesn’t want to play in fresh snow? but he probably didn’t think wow my mom is awesome and she did so much for me and drove to school. No. He’s a kid. He thinks blocks of ice are awesome.

But that’s what we do.

That’s what moms do.

It’s all those little things, those little moments, those times when we just give up our time and self for our family that add up and layer together and create these unbelievably beautiful stories that take place in the margins of life.

I know it’s so easy to be hard on yourself.

I know because I am on myself.

But today?

Today when you wonder what in the world did I do today?

Remember those little moments.

Don’t discount your ordinary beautiful story.

And if you’re ever asked what did you do all day? Take a moment and remember all those small things. Write them down. Remember them. Get teary eyed about them – about you – because you are changing lives with those days where you wonder what you did all day.

Because you didn’t do nothing.

You mothered.

Related post: 9 Reasons I Regret Being a Stay at Home Mom

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