I had a dream that I was a super top secret government agent who had done “untold good” for our country and saved the lives of many of my fellow Americans.
I had been released from my secret duties because the government had found a replacement so that I could be with my family.
I had a lived a glamorous lifestyle–going to fancy restaurants and meeting with important people. I had a lavish wardrobe and an unlimited budget for anything I might need to accomplish my very important work.
In my dream, I was telling my family and friends about some of the cool things I was able to experience (without giving away any pertinent government secrets, of course). They all stared at me in disbelief, and shot hurtful comments my way:
“No way, Mom. Not you. You don’t do important stuff.”
“That’s ridiculous. You don’t know any important people.”
“Honey, you don’t even know how to order food at a restaurant without getting flustered.”
“Flip flops and t-shirts are not glamourous clothing. You wouldn’t know how to put together a professional looking outfit if you had to.”
I was so frustrated in my dream. I couldn’t believe they didn’t see me the same way I knew myself. I kept saying, “But I have done UNTOLD good! I have SAVED LIVES! I am a COVERT HEROE.”
The laughs and jabs continued.
“You’re just a Mom. You don’t go anywhere.”
“You haven’t had a real job since Emily was born 19 years ago. You don’t know how to be gainfully employed.”
I persisted. “You guys don’t really know me! You don’t appreciate everything I have done. I can make amazing split second calculations, plan undercover missions, and read facial expressions to determine if I’m being lied to. I’m much more than you think I am.”
They laughed and said, “Don’t make up stories to feel important.”
I woke up with feeling sad, frustrated, and beaten down. It was horrible!! I often have bad dreams where the stress from my days perpetuates into nightmares where I’m continuously doing loads of laundry or dishes or I have fifty unexpected guests at 2 a.m. and I just want to sleep but I have to make them all food. This dream was like that, but worse. My stress dreams usually dissipate after a couple of hours, but this one stuck with me through the coming weeks. As I write about the dream now, I feel the humiliation and shame in my gut–or maybe that’s the ice cream sundae I just gobbled.
Why does this silly dream bother me so much?
Because there’s so much truth in it!
Now you’re waiting for me to divulge my secret CIA past, right? I know it seems almost believable based on my laudable physical fitness and incredible mental capacity, but that’s not where the truth is.
The truth is that value and contribution of motherhood to the good of society is frequently underestimated and often mocked both overtly and subconciously–even by moms themselves.
I can’t tell you how many times I have come to the end of an emtionally, physically, and spiritually exhausting day feeling like I have simply run in place while others sprint by without noticing my plight. I end the day with no evidence for my suffering or sacrifices. The only thing I can do is go to sleep and hope the next day is a little better and that some of my disappointment and frustration will dissipate as I rest.
On evenings like this, I try to remind myself of what I know to be true about motherhood–that it is noble work–even that I am doing UNTOLD GOOD like I tried to tell people in my dream. I tell myself that my family is grateful for my sacrifices and even if they aren’t, it doesn’t matter because I’m doing the right thing.
Mothers are the covert heroes of our world. Though much of our work isn’t glamourous and we don’t have unlimited resources to accomplish our assignments, we do deal every day with important people. We make amazing split second calculations, plan complicated missions, and can tell when we are being lied to. We accomplish untold good and we save lives.
When addressing the women of the church in October 2006, President Hinckley said, “Now, my dear sisters, just a word in conclusion. I remind you that you are not second-class citizens in the kingdom of God . . . Without you, our Father’s plan of happiness would be frustrated and have no real meaning. You are 50 percent of the membership of the Church and mothers of the other 50 percent. No one can dismiss you lightly.”
In the same talk he shared and commented on this poem:
You are the trip I did not take;
You are the pearls I cannot buy;
You are my blue Italian lake;
You are my piece of foreign sky.
“Many of you are mothers. You are responsible for the nurture and upbringing of your children. When you grow old and your hair turns white, you will not ask about the fancy clothes you once wore, the cars you drove, or the large house in which you lived. Your burning question will be, “How have my children turned out?”
He tells a story of a young mother of seven children. Every time I hear or read this story, my eyes get misty because I have felt like this too many times:
“As I turned around to walk back home, I could see my house lighted up. I could hear echoes of my children as I had walked out of the door a few minutes earlier. They were saying: ‘Mom, what are we going to have for dinner?’ ‘Can you take me to the library?’ ‘I have to get some poster paper tonight.’ Tired and weary, I looked at that house and saw the light on in each of the rooms. I thought of all of those children who were home waiting for me to come and meet their needs. My burdens felt heavier than I could bear.
“I remember looking through tears toward the sky, and I said, ‘Dear Father, I just can’t do it tonight. I’m too tired. I can’t face it. I can’t go home and take care of all those children alone. Could I just come to You and stay with You for just one night? I’ll come back in the morning.’
“I didn’t really hear the words of reply, but I heard them in my mind. The answer was: ‘No, little one, you can’t come to me now. You would never wish to come back. But I can come to you.’”
Heavenly Father loves and blesses his covert heroes who are doing untold good in their families and communities. We can keep moving forward knowing the truth about our divinity and value. And sometimes, we can surprise our families with our ingenuity, energy, intelligence, and glamour–because we are much more than we appear to be.
Since every good post needs pictures, I hope my niece won’t mind me sharing the pictures we have of her sweet baby boy. I guess I’m a great aunt now? Sounds old.