The invisible load of motherhood

invisible labor mothers

When I was growing up, I often hear my mom say that she has so many things to do. At the end of some days, I remember her so exhausted and complaining of aches. She’d asked us to massage her head sometimes.

Fast forward. I am a mother myself and I see mothers in a different light. The whole busy-ness of a homemaker, it makes sense to me now. It happens right before everyone’s eyes, but is never really understood unless you become a mother yourself. It cannot be explained, it can only be experienced.

The definition of work nowadays

Work is paid labor, that’s the modern definition of work in today’s financially driven society. Any activity or occupation doesn’t qualify to be called work if it has no financial value.

Consequently, homemaking is largely devalued in a modern economic world that is highly calculating. It is inconvenient, expensive, and time-consuming as it robs you of resources that could rather be profitized outside the walls of a home, they say. The work of a homemaker does not generate income and does not contribute to tax. The constant toil of serving everyone in the household cannot be monetized.

What the bible says

To the woman also he said: I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee. Genesis 3:16

Those are the words from our Creator to our first parent Eve when cast out from the Garden of Eden. Millions and millions of years later, that is what our Creator continues to speak to mothers of every race, generation, or circumstance. We are no exception for we bear the damage of the original sin into the human nature.

I will multiply thy sorrows. Such mysterious words. Sorrow has become a fiber of womanhood. But what kind of sorrows does the ultimatum has placed on us? Is one of that series of sorrows the lack of understanding of how a woman works?

What are the invisible work of a homemaker

She works in the morning, she works at nights when the whole house is sleeping. She feeds the children food, she also feeds their thoughts. Hers are the breasts and hands that make a newborn survive fresh from the womb, and the little one does not see that or will not remember anything of the occurrence.

Not even counting the fatigue of pregnancy and labor, the mothers continue to work of bringing life into the world in the form of cooking, cleaning, changing diapers, arranging appointments, putting baby to sleep, and you know the rest mums. Without doing these manual labor, a child born into the world shall cease to live and survive. On top of these daily “mundane” home duties, the mothers are given the noble but herculean task of educating the mind, disciplining the will, and nurturing love within the child.

Her mind is constantly filled with decision-making, her heart always worries for everyone.

Her hands are worn and wrinkled. Her eyes watches for everyone’s safety.

Everyone sees her. But no one sees the fast motions racing through her soul.

She’s high and low, sad and mad, then goes euphoric all in one minute. The ebbs and flows of a stormy sea is calmer than the postpartum hormones of a woman. She fights it all by looking at her child.

Motherhood demands so much from the woman that her basic self-care becomes a thing of last priority. It requires of a strength that is not just of the physical sense, but also of a mental gymnastics. If motherhood does not belong to the realm of mental, then postpartum should never exist and be diagnosed as a mental condition.

For all these effort, what for are all the invisible work?

The invisible work of salvation was brought by a Mother and a Child

I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel. Genesis 3:15

Even before God set the ultimatum to our first parents, He first promised the Salvation. The woman is Mary, her seed is Jesus. She crushed the head of the Enemy through her Immaculate Concepcion. Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary are the new Adam and Eve, they are the New Testament. They brought salvation and restored human nature, though still weak and corrupt, have become renewed and dignified again. It is through the Mother and a Child that man’s salvation was brought to the world. The Devil was defeated by a Mother and a Child.

We see the Cross. We see the tears of the Mother. The fruits of salvation are made visible through the sacraments of the Church and the physical edifice of the Church itself.

How is that any different to us, homemakers? Countless are the sacrifices we bear for the children. And most are invisible. The fruits of which can be made visible only when they they reach adulthood. How they become as adults is the physical edifice of your childrearing efforts.

What to do? Go to the Mother of all mothers

It’s not an easy role. If the man is the mind of the family, we are the heart. And sometimes, it can be a heavy heart. But do know that even before the ultimatum of motherhood was declared, the Salvation was promised first: and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head. There is always hope.

During the long days and when your morale is low, go to the loving bosom of the new Eve, that is the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is the patron and example of domestic life. She brought forth the life and light (Jesus) in this world of darkness and evil. She raised and fed the Son of God. She is the Coredemptrix. The salvation of men was made possible by a Mother and a Child. So the next time you look in to the mirror and see yourself with the children, know that you are a component of that Mother and Child’s effort of redemption. The children you are carrying now will become responsible changers who will carry and solve the problems of the society in the near future. Mothers, I hope you remember that when you feel like giving up.

Final thoughts: Go rise forth and change yet another diaper

So the dishes keep coming, but the strength is draining. Another meal to make. Oh what mundane tasks. Oh how invisible are the labours of the home. It only becomes visible when there’s a mess or when no food is cooked. I have no tips or hacks, I’m sorry. It’s just what it is. But if we attain sanctification and glorify God by wiping another dirty bum of the baby, then so be it. Then our days can become a prayer itself and the eve of hope of salvation of our children when they grow up.

I hope you have a good day today mum, or even just an okay day. And I hope you say a prayer for me as I say for you now:

Ave Maria, gratia plena,
Dominus tecum.
Benedicta tu in mulieribus,
et benedictus fructus ventris tui,
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
nunc et in hora mortis nostrae.

Read my post about fatherhood: The power and dignity of a breadwinner (in Adam’s brow)