Open letter to the invisible mother who feels ignored
A mom pens an open letter to the "invisible" mother who feels like the world is ignoring her. "What you deserve is to actually be seen..."
A mom pens an open letter to an invisible mother who feels like the world is ignoring her.
I watch you at the end of a long table, an adorable baby in your arms while you celebrate a special occasion with the family.
But you’re not really celebrating. Your family is celebrating, entertained by each other’s company and the food on the table. As for you? You’re preoccupied with entertaining the baby.
I watch you as you stand up to walk your fussy baby around the restaurant. You pick up a colourful table napkin to wave in front of your baby, sniff at the fake flowers, wow exaggeratedly at the paintings on the walls—anything to keep your little one from wailing like a banshee out of boredom.
You keep this up for a good 10 minutes (and I’m amazed at how you’re able to keep the baby distracted this long), until your baby starts to fuss for an entirely different reason.
Then I watch you as you quietly return to your chair, drape a hot nursing cover over your shoulders, and discreetly breastfeed your hungry little one.
You try to nurse one-handedly so you could sneak in a little bite of food, but your baby craves to be cradled in both arms and cries whenever you stop. So you let your baby feed, you watch as your family feasts, and you wait until you get a chance.
A chance for what?
I notice the baby has fallen asleep, but instead of taking this chance to eat, you stand up—because if you don’t walk and rock the baby in your arms, I realize, the baby will wake up.
You make shushing sounds as you circle the long table. You seem to make the effort to pause and chat with each person, who pays your baby some attention with a tender tug of those pudgy little toes.
But perhaps what you really want is for them to pay attention to you.
This is the chance you’re waiting for. A slumbering baby isn’t a fussy baby, and any abled body can take over watching your little angel. You want to remind them that you’re not just a headcount. You’d like to be able to actively participate in the merriment, dining and drinking along with the group.
Yet nobody offers to carry the sleeping baby for you. After they tug at the baby's little toes, sniff the top of the head, even coo a little, they go back to their plates.
I watch you and it makes me want to go to you, take the baby in your arms, and give you a respite from your mommy duties. But like you, with my own two young children in tow and nobody else to watch them, I’m trapped in this state of helplessness.
I understand how it is to feel isolated, to be ignored and unacknowledged. I’ve been the mommy wallflower, feeling excluded and unassisted at a get-together, because everyone else expects me to focus on the baby since that’s what mothers are supposed to do. Right?
One thing I’ve learned throughout the years and have reminded myself about over and over: motherhood is not martyrdom. There is zero shame in seeking—or even demanding—help.
Mom, I watch you. And I see your quiet strength and it is a sight to behold. Your presence at the table is not an intermission or a commercial break. In fact, you should be the one your family celebrates at the table.
But I can tell you don’t need grand gestures. Right now, you’d be happy to settle for 15 minutes. It’s just enough time to scarf down some food and squeeze in a quick chat.
After all, you have a voice not only for baby talk, but also for adult conversations. You don’t deserve to be disregarded as background noise while your baby’s wailing reverberates throughout the room.
What you deserve is to actually be seen, and not only to be glanced at.
So mommy, I want to tell you this: I hear you, I feel for you. I see you.
You’re not invisible.