To the Mom Who Feels Invisible
For the next time someone asks me what I do, I’ve prepared a fresh response…
“I am a professional wiper,” I can say and even nod simultaneously. After all, I wipe countertops and salty tears and jelly-smudged faces and milk-splattered floors and pudgy bottoms and crunched up goldfish and unidentifiable objects from every surface known to man—every day. With qualifications like that, it’s time I gained some professional merit.
Maybe even a badge.
As moms (and parents in general), there are things we do that nobody else sees. We trim tiny fingernails and hold back their hair. We fetch another glass of water and read Goodnight Moon for the 726th time. We referee squabbles and facilitate homework. We do the silly voices and cuddle like it’s our job—because it is. We answer five billion questions a day, like: “When will the pig lay its bacon?” “Why can’t we go to the African Savannah today?” “If you were a Cheetah, what would you have for lunch?” We kiss boo-boos and dress Barbies and pray desperately and make snacks and give piggyback rides and endure practices and fold underwear.
Whether you’re a working mom, a stay-at-home-mom, or somewhere in between—this is all of us. We are all in this crazy motherhood gig together. It’s hard. It’s beautiful. IT’S BEAUTIFULLY HARD. And most of all, it’s sacred.
But sometimes, we can feel invisible.
Random poll: Who’s ever heard of Moses? Or Mary? What about Noah, Esther, Jonah, or Abraham?
Even if you don’t know much about the Bible, you’ve likely heard of this famous cast of characters. But here’s one name that might not ring any bells…
Though her actual name is only mentioned twice in all of Scripture, her role was not small. Jochebed was Moses’ mom. Yep—the woman who put her baby in a basket and sent him floating down a river. No one even called the cops.
In a nutshell: Pharaoh was feeling overrun by the ever-increasing Israelite slaves, so he ordered that all Hebrew baby boys be drowned in Nile. A horrendous idea of population control. But like a good momma, Jochebed couldn’t bring herself to obey such an evil decree, so she kept him hidden for three months.
“But when she could no longer hide him, she got a basket made of papyrus reeds and waterproofed it with tar and pitch. She put the baby in the basket and laid it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile River. The baby’s sister then stood at a distance, watching to see what would happen to him. ” (Exodus 2:3-4)
And after that? The Egyptian princess spotted him while she was bathing, the baby’s sister bravely proposed the idea of finding her a wet nurse, and Jochebed ended up getting paid by the royals to feed and love her very own baby! Talk about a change of events. Eventually, when Moses was a bit older, he was taken back to the palace where the princess raised him as her own.
So, first of all, let’s acknowledge that there are three courageous females in this story. A side note of applause goes to the princess, who had compassion on this helpless babe in less than ideal circumstances. A powerful adoption story. And to Miriam—the gutsy little girl who proved that no one is too young to change the course of history.
Secondly, I have a lot of questions for Jochebed. How did you know what to do? What was going through your head? How did it feel when you held Moses in your arms again? Did you ugly cry? Well of course she did.
The Bible tells us a little, but there’s plenty left unsaid. We know, however, that:
- Jochebed was intuitive. “She saw that he was a special baby and kept him hidden for three months.” (vs 2:2) Sure, we all think our babies are special—and they are!—but she was paying attention to more than what her eyes could see. In the midst of a gruesome situation it would’ve been easy to panic, but she prayed instead. God whispered direction into her heart and she had the sense to listen.
- Jochebed was hardworking. Um, have you ever tried to keep a baby quiet for three minutes? Let alone three months?! That would require some major skill. I’ve also never waterproofed a basket with tar and pitch (or anything at all for that matter). But she did it all while keeping a worthy secret, with merciless officials lurking outside of her door. She supplemented her faith with actions that affirmed her ferocious trust in God.
- Jochebed was smart. I doubt it was mere coincidence that this little float trip occurred at the exact time and place when and where the princess was bathing. Yes, it was absolutely God’s orchestrating. But Jochebed also surrendered to His promptings, used her brain, devised a plan, coached her daughter, and prayed to the Lord Almighty for protection. She did what she could do and trusted Him with the rest.
- Jochebed was brave. Not only did she put herself at risk by hiding Moses, but she also made the valiant decision to let him go. I bet her tears fell uncontrollably as she wiped down that tiny basket. I bet she changed his little diaper and nursed him at the water’s edge, just to get him as fat and happy and sleepy as possible. I bet her entire body shook as she laid him in that makeshift boat and gave him one last kiss—one last time. Being brave doesn’t mean that our fears are expelled, but that we choose to push through them anyway.
- Jochebed was steady. Moses and Aaron were two of the greatest leaders in biblical history, eventually facing Pharaoh and leading God’s people out of Egypt and toward the Promised Land. Miriam played a significant role as both a child and an adult. Moses penned the first five books of the Old Testament, including the Ten Commandments, as God instructed him. Kind of a big deal. It seems that their mom was on mission as she taught them how to trust her God, and to hear His voice above all others.
So what does Jochebed’s story have to do with us? With you?
Raising a tribe of God-followers is no small thing, but she wasn’t all that different from me or from you. She loved her God and her babies—pretty simple. She did the best she could, taught them all she knew, and let them go when she couldn’t hold on any longer.
That’s the way of the mother, right? We’re raising them strong to one day release them as bright lights into the dreary darkness; to watch them live out the story for which they were made.
We are not just wipers.
We are daughters of the King. Vessels for God’s glory. Mentors of growing disciples. Executives of the Kingdom. Carriers of the most important message on the planet. Teachers to future leaders who will one day change the world.
And being unseen really isn’t so bad. God often does His best work in holy, invisible places.