Barrel-of-monkeys I went fishing today; I netted 19 plus.

My posture wasn't a traditional fisherman's; awkwardly prostrated atop my washing machine and dryer, rear-end curved like the hump of an inchworm on the move, arms dangling low and legs flailing high, I was Mom on a Mission. 

I needed clothes hangers and I knew where to find them:  wedged between appliance and wall.

There's a hanging bar suspended three feet above our washer and dryer, barely within reach when my arms are extended; I've become a pro at spinning hangers off of it when stretching to hang up a shirt or pair of pants.  I think the ratio is two hangers down to one shirt hung.

Tired of never having enough empty hangers when the dryer screeches "THEY'RE DOOOONE!", I finally decided to go after them.

It wasn't a pretty sight; I was at it for almost half an hour.  Think "Barrel of Monkeys" and you'll better understand.  A bent, elongated wire hanger was my "pole", and several times I'd drop a hanger just when it was in reach of my free hand trying to "unhook" it from the pole.

The socks were a more difficult catch; I ended up with six of those–two pair and two singles. 

wire and plastic hangers in laundry room As I cleaned off the hangers–some of which must have been there for years based on the very large dust bunnies that had taken up residence–I thought about the work of a mother that goes unnoticed and under appreciated.  Not that we take care of our homes and families for attention and accolades, but that so often we falsely feel a lack of accomplishment for not getting "anything" done when we've…

  • changed the toilet paper roll {because apparently no one else a) knows how to do it, or b) uses any…!}
  • washed, dried, folded and put away six loads of laundry {that if your husband had helped, would've been one load because of differences in sorting methods…}
  • wiped noses
  • scheduled doctor and dentist appointments
  • remembered doctor and dentist appointments
  • kept track of who had what medicine when
  • picked up wet towels off the floor, candy wrappers, straw plastic from juice boxes, etc.
  • vacuumed straw ortho rubber bands ALL OVER THE HOUSE
  • wiped down kitchen counters, tables, appliances, cabinets
  • clipped fingernails
  • removed science experiments from the refrigerator
  • located lost shoes and socks
  • put on found socks and shoes
  • wiped behinds
  • dumped & disinfected the potty chair
  • de-gunkified dining room chairs (loved this from @AmberOliver!)
  • vacuumed under couch cushions
  • cleaned inside the bottom of trash cans
  • found the remote control for the umpteenth time
  • corrected bad manners
  • prepared lunch
  • corrected poor grammar
  • disciplined children gone wild
  • wiped fingerprints from windows or tv
  • purchased birthday gifts
  • RSVPed to birthday parties
  • baked for class parties
  • chaperoned field trips
  • shopped for groceries
  • tightened lids on everything…OR ELSE!
  • cleaned or touched up paint in high traffic areas
  • cleaned the microwave BECAUSE NO ONE ELSE EVER NOTICES IT'S DIRTY!
  • drove carpool
  • completed school forms
  • signed school work to be returned to class
  • paid bills
  • wiped down the high chair
  • swept or Swiffered the floor
  • cooked dinner

Of course the list is partial, but I bet some of you have done many of these in a single day! 

Years ago, before I gave birth to our third child and when my oldest two were newborn and just turned two, I remember my husband asking me at the end of a long, exhausting, sucking-the-breath-of-life-out-of-me kind of day, "What'd y'all do today?"

It was one of those days where my oldest was particularly needy and I hadn't even gone to the bathroom because of attending to her and a nursing baby!  I couldn't look him in the eye–in fact I closed my eyes so he couldn't see how painful that question was for me–and tears started streaming down my face.  I felt like I had done nothing…nothing…all day because I couldn't point to one demonstration of accomplishment.  He didn't mean to hurt my feelings (and let me tell you, it takes a LOT to move me to tears!), but that very question implies action…and I couldn't see any.

Oh, sweet mothers, be encouraged!  During the days where you feel like you're accomplishing little; during those seasons where you're wiping noses and behinds and just about everything in your house; when you're headed out the door and realize your oldest just poured bubbles down her shirt and your youngest just blew out his last diaper and your middle child vomited on the carpet and the dog left a goodie in the corner and you're out of juice for sippee cups for the road and the chicken you planned to cook for dinner is still frozen and you're NOW RUNNING LATE FOR THE DENTIST AND YOU HAVEN'T HAD TIME TO USE THE BATHROOM ALL DAY…

You're making a difference in the lives of your children by demonstrating love to them in the thankless, unseen actions that by themselves seem insignificant.  You're loving your husband by acts of service that might be "invisible" to him or taken for granted sometimes, but they're selfless, important expressions of love.

You're doing what moms do best:  whatever needs to be done.  And in the process?  In the midst of 1,000 mini-sacrifices of doing what you might want to do?  You're glorifying God by living your faith.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I shook my head and almost shuddered as I returned to the present, wife to that same husband and children now 17, 15 and 12.  I smiled to think none of them would give a rip about my behind-the-washer "fishing" expedition; they wouldn't notice that now I had an abundance of hangers, ready to hang their freshly washed clothes.

But after years of modeling (without thinking) the daily truth of Philippians 2, I shouldn't have been surprised–

…my husband replaced the brakes on our car, cleaned out the interior, and pressure-washed our front sidewalk…

…my youngest unloaded the dishwasher without being told…

…my middle child cleaned the dinner dishes so I could walk before it got dark…

…my oldest, out of the blue said, "I'm so glad you're my mom…you're the best mother…"

All those "nothings" combined have been wise investment; the paychecks?  Priceless.

Your turn:  Can I hear a witness? :)  Can you add to the list above or share your Mama Paychecks?

{A million thanks to a gaggle of Twitter friends who quickly reminded me of PLENTY of mundane mama tasks–click their names & you should land on their contribution to this post!  vitafamiliae,  @vdog, @anjyldream, @WayMoreHomemade, @vanderbiltwife, @FriedOkra, @ToBeThode, @LiveLaughLoveCj, @SandraWP, @Babybloomr, @dianaguiney, @Jenny867530h9, @Gina_Lee_Garcia, @Clemntine, @toddleddredge, @bethsportsmomma, @kellyatlovewell, @AmberOliver, @justmalia, @carrien_laughs, @madatmama

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