There I was. At the base of a waterfall, at the end of the most beautiful hike I’ve ever taken.
We stopped at the gift shop to enjoy some delicious ice cream. Because grandparents always say yes.
My kids gobbled up their ice cream at a super human pace (we may or may not have underestimated the hiking trail and brought exactly no water or snacks). One by one, as they finished, my kids all handed me their trash.
As they all ran off to play in the gorgeous wide-open space, I looked down and laughed.
I just never expected to be a human trashcan. You know?
Especially when an actual trashcan was right beside me.
A human trash can. Just add that to the list of thankless things I do.
Carrier of all the things.
Did you use soap? checker.
Covert spinach hider.
Chauffeur of The Fight Club. (Obviously, my kids can’t discuss the fight club. That pesky first rule and all. But the back seat brawling tells all.)
Shall I go on?
You know exactly what I am talking about.
You do approximately six million small things everyday to love your family well.
And somehow all six million things go unnoticed.
And if you’re anything like me, it’s very hard feeling unseen and unappreciated.
Evidenced by the fact that I give every ounce of all I have to raising my four people, and yet somehow I can still cry myself to sleep at night replaying all the ways I have failed that day.
It makes absolutely no sense how I can do my very best yet never feel like my best is enough. And I know I am not alone in this.
But, as I sat at the base of the waterfall that day, watching my kids run wild, I was overcome with the assurance that being a human trash can matters. So to speak.
The six million thankless jobs matter.
Think about the Great Wall of China. It took over three billion bricks to complete the wall. No one individual brick is all that impressive, but the culmination of them is magnificent.
And that’s exactly what you are doing.
Each time you do yet another thankless task, you are building something spectacular. You are investing in a relationship that will echo for generations to come. The little daily parts of raising kids that feel so very daily are actually way more valuable than we think.
Being a human trash can matters. Because you are so much more than a human trash can.
On the surface, it seems like ill-mannered short people throwing their discarded goods your way. But look a little deeper. You are the only person with whom they have this level of comfort. You are safe. You are predictable. You are a place where they belong and are known.
There is no love like a mother’s love.
And to get to serve your family in six million little ways is sacred work.
It’s hard work.
But it’s sacred. And it matters.
You don’t have to be thanked for what you’re doing to count.
Every minute of lost sleep. Every moment of cleaning up the bodily fluids that flow so freely. Every mopped floor. Every dinner cooked. Every small sacrifice is building love, confidence, security, and belonging into the heart and mind of your children.
Do not despise the things that no one sees, appreciates, or thanks you for.
Because your children do see. They cannot begin to comprehend what you do in a given day, but their hearts affirm that what you do is important.
Greatness happens one brick at a time. One small act of love at a time.
Mama, do not lose heart today. The endless list of what needs to be done and who needs what can be overwhelming. You’re not just completing a to-do list. You’re building something spectacular.
Brick by brick.