on marriage, parenting, and feeling invisible.

Marriage is hard.

Marriage with children might be even harder. Parenting has made our marriage simultaneously stronger and weaker, mostly better but occasionally worse. We are constantly vying for each others attention in the midst of a tiny blue-eyed boy who seems to willingly take every ounce of energy we have left at the end of the day.

And yet, that same tiny boy is our second strongest bond after Christ—flesh of our flesh, blood running thick with both our genes. He is determined like me, but cautious like Brett. He has my eye shape and Brett’s eye color, and every time I look at him, I see both of us. Every thing he does, every new habit he develops, every response he offers to a situation, I see both of us. He is, quite literally, a physical representation of the love between Brett and myself.

Since the day he was born, Everett has been wrecking our marriage and making it whole—breaking us apart and putting us back together like play-doh.

We argue about whether or not he needs to wear a sweatshirt (and don’t even get me started on socks). We laugh hysterically at every tiny thing he does that nobody else would find even remotely funny. We argue about our roles, our responsibilities, who does what and who does more and who is the most unappreciative. And then at 10pm every night we walk into his room and put our hands on his back, feeling steady breaths, dismissing previous arguments and exchanging a knowing glance. We love him so much it hurts. Everett is our biggest challenge, and also our greatest joy and shared accomplishment.

It’s both obvious and surprising how much work it is to raise a child. Some days I think it is exactly what I imagined, maybe even better, and other days the sheer burden of it is so shocking I want to run for the hills screaming, THIS IS TOO MUCH FOR ME RIGHT NOW.

I am peaceful and stressed out; grateful and resentful. I’m on top of mountains and at the bottom of valleys; experiencing my highest highs and lowest lows. I feel loved and unloved, noticed and invisible. Sometimes I think I have a personality disorder but then I google “hormones” and realize that I’m probably just as much of a mess as any other woman my age, maybe slightly more.

I don’t know how to do all of this. I don’t know how to raise a baby and be a wife and be a friend and use my gifts and serve other people and most importantly, love Jesus all the while. It almost always feels unstable, like there is too much of something on one side.

Because in times when I feel like I am trying to be everything to everyone, it feels like nobody is trying to be anything to me. And that leaves me feeling broken. And alone. And desperate.

When it all becomes too much, and I start to feel invisible, I hear God reminding me of the same truth, over and over again.

I see you, all of the time.

I notice you, all of the time.

I love you, all of the time.

Today, I am soaking in that truth and letting go of the expectations and disappointments that I’ve been carrying around the last few weeks. I’m giving all of that to God—the One who sees, the One who knows, the One who cares, the One who heals.

I don’t know where you’re at today (hopefully you’re feeling like less of a hot mess than I am), but in case you are also feeling a little invisible, I want to remind you: God sees you, God notices you, God loves you. Today, tomorrow, and every day that follows.

Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
    Who created all these stars?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
    and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
    not one of them is missing. – Isaiah 40:26

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55 Responses to on marriage, parenting, and feeling invisible.

  1. Amanda H says:

    I super needed this today. Like, SUPER.

    Thank you for being so transparent and willing to say what i cant put into words.

  2. Jo says:

    I didn’t comment on your previous post, but after reading this post I’d like to say this in response to what I want to read on your blog in 2014: the same as usual. Please don’t change in one of those big time money making sponsor promoting blogs. I like your honesty and hope it always stays. 🙂

    I don’t have kids so this post doesn’t resonate with me and then you write this ‘Because in times when I feel like I am trying to be everything to everyone, it feels like nobody is trying to be anything to me’. I have been seriously struggling in my friendships lately. I feel like all I do is give and all my friend, who I’m having a hard time with, does is take. To the point where I have ‘only’ my husband and younger sister as my best friends which leaves me feeling incredibly lonely. Like they are the only 2 investing me.

    Great reminder though that God is always there! Thanks. 🙂

    • Ashlee says:

      Oh man, I have been there. One-sided friendships are tough, and incredibly exhausting. Hope you get some clarity on that soon. And yes, God is always there!

  3. Kelly says:

    I totally GET this, Ashlee. Glad our God is ministering to your heart through the challenge of it all.

    I’ve been going through a lot of this stuff lately and had a friend refer a book called “Desperate” (website here: http://desperatemom.com/). I just started reading it so I don’t have a full review. But it has hit me right where I’m at and helped a lot so far. Would love to hear if you have read it.

    Thinking of you and praying for you friend. With love,

    Kelly

    • Ashlee says:

      Lesley was just talking about that book! I am reading Jesus Feminist right now (highly recommend by the way), but I think I need to move Desperate up to the top of the list after that. I actually ate lunch next to her one day at the Allume Conference!

  4. Kimberly Amack says:

    I just sent this blogpost to literally ALL of my friends – married, unmarried, with kids or without, this is a beautiful reminder of God’s love. Thanks for writing, Ashlee! It brought me to tears!

  5. Meagan says:

    So very well written.
    Meagan´s last blog post ..2013

  6. Shell says:

    I needed this today too. Beautifully written!!

  7. Raquel says:

    Ashlee – You nailed it. This is parenthood perspective perfection.

  8. danielle says:

    SO perfectly worded and true and what i needed to hear as my 15 month old is currently quite the challenge yet simultaneously the most amazing gift i’ve ever received.

  9. caprice says:

    Thank you for writing this! I too have been going through some darker days and not sure how to sum up how I was feeling. This part really hit home with me…” … trying to be everything to everyone, it feels like nobody is trying to be anything to me.”
    You have such a beautiful gift with words…you completely put in words what I can not. I am still finding myself spiritually but I am so grateful how you remind us of the bigger picture and that even though we feel alone, we are not and someone is always watching and present. Thank you so much for this reminder…I am sending you a huge cyber hug!!!!

  10. Tamara Powell says:

    Very sincere and thoughtful post, friend — beautifully from the heart. Love you.

  11. Andrea says:

    Amen. Such a fantastic reminder that in the midst of feeling alone, and hurt, and forgotten….the Lord never leaves us alone, unhealed or forgotten. Such a beautiful life we are blessed to lead through Him.

  12. Jac says:

    I completely relate. Reading through your post, and then the comments, though, was incredibly comforting. I guess we’re all in the same boat!

    It’s not an easy thing to put out there like you did, but YOU DID, and that is awesome and powerful. You’re doing good things, and while it may not feel like it sometimes, you are a total rockstar. You’re doing a great job. xo
    Jac´s last blog post ..Manhattan

  13. Alli Moore says:

    This is so well written Ashlee. It’s one of things I worry about most with our little guy’s arrival in a couple of weeks. How will our marriage change with a child? How will I need to adjust the type A side of me so that I don’t feel overwhelmed with the illusive goal of finding “balance.” You are right – it is overwhelming! Your words help!

  14. thank you for writing this. i’m young and married and no kids yet, but i’ve bookmarked this for the future. even now, however, it speaks to me and is so encouraging. your honesty is so affirming.
    michaela @ handfuls´s last blog post ..everyday yoga: tips + resources

  15. Colleen says:

    I rarely comment but I always read Ashlee but today I felt compelled because it really hit home. I often see you as totally together in this super happy loving marriage and wish mine were more like yours since we didn’t go out on new years and I didn’t even put on red lipstick to stay at home. Its impossible not to compare and then a post like this happens and I realize everything that I feel someone else does too. My hubby is the best provider and loves us all but ditto to your words. We have to attend church without him as he works weekends and as hard as it is to bring 2 kids and 17 snacks to church I always feel better after. Thanks for todays blog.

    • Ashlee says:

      Dear sweet Colleen,

      I AM NOT TOTALLY TOGETHER. Like, not even close. Rest assured my friend, I am just as much of a mess as you, probably even more.

  16. Cara says:

    Ashlee ~ While I am neither a mother or wife, I feel like I could have written this today. Keep on keeping on, my friend.
    Cara´s last blog post ..Guest Blogger Susan Brown on Choosing a Great Bottle of Wine

  17. Kari says:

    Thank you for this. When I talked to you a few weeks ago, you were so encouraging as I am starting this journey of motherhood, and so nervous/worried/tired already. Your words then:

    Grace > Guilt.

    You have no idea how many times I've repeated that to myself since. Reading this post, and feeling the visceral honesty in the parenting/marriage struggle, I'm again encouraged that I won't be alone, in the coming days, months and years as a momma. You are beautiful and used by God. Thank you for your words.

    – Kari

    • Ashlee says:

      You should make grace > guilt into a t-shirt and carry it in your shop 😉

      You’re not alone, ever, in motherhood or anything else. You are going to be a great momma!

  18. Maria says:

    So true. Thank you!

  19. It’s not all the time that I read a blog post word-for-word and I did that here today. Thank you for sharing this! Marriage is hard work and it’s good to know others go through similar struggles with having a family and keeping a house of your own. No class lecture prepares you for this. Thank you again!
    Chanel // Birdieux´s last blog post ..FOOTBALL, CHRISTMAS AND INFLUENZA.

  20. Christina says:

    Beautiful post friend. Thanks for always writing and sharing a piece of yourself. I completely relate with 100 percent of this post. XO

  21. Jen says:

    Thank you so much for this today! As a new mom of a 6 week old, the dynamic between my husband and I has already greatly changed. It’s amazing how much a child affects a marriage. And although most of our conflicts are a result of severe sleep deprevation, I know life as I know it, and my marriage, will never be the same (in the best way possible). I couldn’t be more in love with my husband or son if I tried, but like you said, keeping that balance is so hard! Thank you for the encouragement, it’s nice to know you’re not alone sometimes in your struggles! I keep trusting in God and ferociously loving my family!

    • Ashlee says:

      Congrats on your new baby, Jen! It’s good to be aware of the fact that your conflicts are sleep-deprived based right now. It gets better 😉

  22. kat says:

    Hollaaaaa! You took the words right outta my mouth. Actually…articulated much, MUCH better. 🙂 Thanks for making me feel normal and not crazy and xoxo

  23. Thank you for speaking something that so many of us mothers experience and feel. As someone who has personally been struggling with my faith recently, those last lines “I see you, all of the time. I notice you, all of the time. I love you, all of the time.” brought me to tears.
    Mary Evelyn Smith´s last blog post ..On Having Another Baby

  24. Christy says:

    I am a subscriber and love your blog, but have never left a comment. Today you must know how much your beautiful post touched my heart. I am a follower of Christ, wife, and mother to a 18-month-old son — with #2 on the way. This life is so very beautiful and blessed, but also so hard at times! Your honest post articulated the discomfort and seeming tension between all these roles. Yet you don’t leave us there to wallow. You point to grace, to the light of Christ and help us all find comfort and hope there. I’m sharing your post with other mommy friends who need this message today. Thank you, Ashlee!

  25. Josie says:

    Gosh yes! Such tricky waters to navigate once a child comes into a relationship. I think being aware of the struggles is healthy rather than pretending everything’s fine then being quietly resentful.

    But yes, I hear you. Beautifully put.
    Josie´s last blog post ..Instagram images of the sea

  26. Anna says:

    So beautifully written as always Ashlee. I think pretty much any parent can relate to this post and how wonderful that you had the courage to write this!!
    Anna´s last blog post ..Welcome to Annie & Isabel’s New Web Site and Store!

  27. Woo. I could have written this, in a way. I have two. The jump to two kids killlled me. It was hard! And just last night I was telling my husband something about how sometimes I want to tell new parents how awful and horrible parenting is, but that it’s also crazy awesome. HOW WEIRD IS THAT? I know, I sound looney, but it’s true. 🙂

  28. lacey says:

    thank you so so SO MUCH for this. i love your writing, it’s beautiful in so many ways.

    (and i’m right there with ya, feeling this way a lot of the time.)
    lacey´s last blog post ..01.06.13 | 1/52

  29. Gina says:

    Such a beautiful post! I love your perspective on marriage and motherhood.
    Gina´s last blog post ..Eat Like a Girl

  30. Francesca says:

    “… trying to be everything to everyone, it feels like nobody is trying to be anything to me.” <—–THIS.

  31. angie says:

    Thank you so much for sharing couldn’t be in a more similar place! Thank goodness for gods grace and love.

  32. Kaylan says:

    Glad I read this post after a terrible night with a toddler and an argument that resulted from lack of sleep. Thanks for writing from your heart Ashlee.
    Kaylan´s last blog post ..Finley & Me 1/52

  33. Tamara says:

    Here is a BIG ‘me too!’ & I couldn’t have said it better myself but everything you said I nodded along with. Great post.

  34. Emma says:

    I love love everything you’ve said here. Parenting together is always so hard because it seems like there’s more disagreement than agreement, but the prize really is that they are a symbol of your love, and a symbol that if you really want things to work out, they can. I also love laughing together when our son does something so funny- something that really ISNT that funny but is to us!

  35. lucy says:

    What a beautiful post. It makes me smile to know that I stumbled upon this as an empty nest mother who now knows a different way in which one feels invisible. The helloes and goodbyes of parenting are full of love and pain and remembering God is always there helps.

  36. Andrea says:

    I really appreciate this post! I can relate on so many levels! As a parent we are always consumed with our child(ren) and sometimes we can feel unappreciated and invisible. This reminded me that God is always there and when things get heavy all you have to do is lift them up to him. Thank you!
    Andrea´s last blog post ..We made it!

  37. Perle says:

    I just discovered your blog from your article on velcro baby. I just wanted to let you know that you write beautifully, with so much honesty, it’s healing to read your articles. Thank you for taking the time to write and share.

  38. Angie says:

    I just stumbled across your blog today.

    This article totally hit home with me. My husband and I just celebrated our daughters first birthday and have been together for 12 years…married almost 3 years and this year has been the hardest yet. Everyone says the first year of marriage is your hardest…when truly the first year of your first child is the hardest. The words in this blog is me in this moment of my life.

    Thank you for sharing!! <3
    Angie´s last blog post ..thriving, not surviving.

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