It was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
The back on the worn out, irritable, frustrated and spent camel. And it really wasn’t a camel, it was a mom. It had been a long week that had come after another long week. It had been everything, not just one thing in particular.
There was the was the worn out mom, pulling into the parking lot at the gym. Busy, talkative and needy children buzzed in the back of the van. Who kept needing the mom, the mom who really only needed and desired some rest.
She circled the parking lot, looking for a spot close to the building so that she wouldn’t have to carry the children, the bags and hold hands or fret any further than she needed to. The unseasonably cold weather was also a strong incentive to find a great spot, as leaves whipped around in the choppy, bitter wind.
She saw a spot, and she thankfully moved in to take it…only to see that on the other side of the vehicle backing out was another van, a van that promptly moved in and took that very last parking place.
Internally, the worn out mom kind of lost it, though she didn’t say it out loud. The week’s failures and obstacles came flooding back in a perfect and annoying harmony. Children who didn’t want to listen. A house that she just couldn’t keep clean, where kids’ shoes always went missing on everyone’s way out the door. Forgetfulness and inconvenience. Children up at all hours of the night. A lack of sleep. Home repair stress. Sick and teething children.
She only saw people who were always needing something from the worn out mom.
The worn out mom took note that the van who stole her spot only had one person in it. No one to haul inside against the wind. No extra things to carry.
“You don’t even NEED such a close spot!!!” she screamed in her head.
And inside, she was still storming and swirling. Why didn’t this random person see??? Why didn’t this person who she had never met before, and who would have no way of even knowing, see what this worn out mom had to carry?
Why didn’t anyone see her burdens?
“Why doesn’t anyone see what’s going on with me?” She whispered to herself. And what ailed inside of her clicked in her brain.
No one sees me.
To others, she was the woman on the other end of the line who was only trying to make appointments for sick children at the doctors or call about a prescription while children carried on in the background. Children who only care what she’s doing and cling the instant that she picks up the phone and tries to be productive. To the people at the store, she was the nameless mother of sometimes overly active children who want to touch everything on the shelves and can’t contain themselves in the cart. To the children, she was where the food came from, how the diapers got changed and the seeker of lost toys. To everyone, she was anything but what she simply was, a worn out person.
To everyone else she was something. Even though all that she felt she had to give was nothing. Constantly empty.
“No one sees me. Or else, no one cares,” she decided, ” I just want someone to see me. Someone to see that I need help. Someone to just LOOK at me. How can no one sense that I need more?”
Because if they did, they would have swooped in. They would have brought over a random cup of coffee from Starbucks for her. They would have taken the kids for an hour so she could get a shower and read a book. They would have called her just to chat. They would have pointed out that she was overly burdened. They would have done something and it would have all felt better. If someone saw her, she wouldn’t feel so lonely sometimes, right?
She sank some on the inside.
And as she herded the happy children unto the narrow sidewalk, and while she carried their bags, and the car keys, and her water bottle, her daughter chirped out, “LOOK, mommy! See that cloud?”
The worn out mom looked up and she saw it. One tiny cloud against a wall of blue.
Just one. Fuzzy and small. By itself. Against a vast wall of who knows what. Who knows why it was formed and alone like it was. Who knows why the winds and currents had carried it here. Who would notice one tiny cloud, all on its own?
And it took a lot for the mom not to cry. Because she knew that moment that God said, “I see you.”
Because God said, “I see your struggles. I have bottled up your tears. You are precious in my sight. Your struggles refine you, they do not define you. And they matter.”
No one else may have seen the worn out mom that week. Not at 3 in the morning when the four-year old was awake from bad dreams and his fever. Not when she was standing with messy hair doing the dishes in the wee hours of the morning. Not when she scrubbed the bath tub. Not when she cleaned up the boy who had made a mess in his pants at the store.
But a caring God saw her. And He says, “I see it all. It matters. All of it counts.”
And that was enough. That is enough.