Every night at dinner, the same thing happens: I ask one of my four children if they would like a certain drink or a scoop of vegetables.
"Would you like water or milk?" I may ask one of them.
"Could I get you some broccoli?" I might ask another.
And every night at dinner, the same thing happens: they all ignore me.
I honestly don't know what it is with my family, but for some reason, whenever I talk, it feels like I'm talking into thin air. There's no acknowledgement that I have spoken, no head turned my way, no response from any of the four children I have given life to whatsoever.
I might repeat myself, clear my throat or do that look that teachers give when they are waiting for their students to notice they have gone quiet, but usually, it warrants no response from my children. At this point, my husband might sense my growing frustration and loudly interrupt my children from whatever they're in the midst of doing.
"Hey!" he'll say. "Your mom is speaking to you!"
At which point, they'll blankly look at me, the facial version of a "Huh?" and I will have to repeat the question I just posed twice, sighing loudly in the process. I wish I could say that I was exaggerating a little, but I'm not—this scenario plays itself out, over and over and over, morning, noon and night in my home. I speak and no one hears me. I swear, sometimes it feels like I'm invisible.
I'm the parent who's at home, remembering who needs what book for school, what day my husband has a meeting, handing him his lunch every morning, reminding him about that one thing he needs to do today. I'm the one who asks about spelling tests and math tests and small hurts and is so-and-so back to being your friend today? I spend my days and nights seeing the visible—and invisible—needs and hurts and wants and desires of my family.
And sometimes? Well, I just wish they would see me in the same way.
It's a feeling that has haunted me many times throughout my now over a decade of motherhood.
I wish my husband might see me enough to know when I need a break. I wish he might make sure I eat lunch in the same way that I carefully package him up some homemade chocolate-chip cookies. I wish he might take note of the important tasks and deadlines in my week, the way that all of his are written prominently on our family calendar. I wish my children would see me as an important enough person so that when I talk, they listen up.
I wish that on those mind-numbing days when it feels like all the kids have been sick for a thousand years and the house is closing in on you and you feel like you could scream with frustration, that someone—anyone—would see my life as important enough to take notice of.
It's a feeling that has haunted me many times throughout my now over a decade of motherhood. It's a sentiment I've expressed to my husband countless times, whispering between tears, fumbling through my sentences because it's hard to explain this feeling, that I'm just kind of here while the rest of the world goes on around me.
But I'm here now, standing up for all the moms who might feel the same way.
The moms who are passed over in conversations, when someone turns to your husband and asks, "How's work going?" The moms who are overlooked by salespeople who insist on only posing questions to your partner. The moms who, just once, wonder what it would be like to be a Person That Mattered.
To all the moms who may feel like they're invisible in their own homes sometimes; the moms who wonder if anyone even notices what they do on a daily basis; the moms who really don't get acknowledged until someone needs clean clothes or another snack:
I see you.
I see you because I am you.
And I have to believe that these kids of ours, who are quick to keep playing when we ask them to come to the table; these kids who may not answer us right away when we ask them a question; these kids who seem to look right through us sometimes ... I have to believe that their eyes will open someday and they will realize that we were right here all along.