Do you ever feel underappreciated as a mother? We clean the house, do the laundry, change diapers, feed the children, make dinner and sometimes fit a meal in there for ourselves. Even when the children are sleeping at night, we are still on call. We drag on through our days only to wake up the next day and do it all over again.
And on top of that, we have society’s ever-changing standards for motherhood. If you are like me, you are constantly searching for gratification, something nearly impossible to find in any area of life in society.
We just want people to know how hard this work is; how often we want to run away from everything, but never do. When we wash a dish, or fold the laundry, we want to be noticed. But do we receive anything like that? Most days, probably not. We get one day a year that is over-commercialized. Mother’s Day; a day where we honor mothers because it’s expected. Don’t get me wrong - it doesn’t matter what day it is, I’ll take the breakfast in bed, hand-drawn cards and chocolates! But we want something that celebrates all that we do, perhaps more than once a year. But that doesn’t happen. We feel underappreciated. But, are we?
I am married to an amazing man and we have two children. Our first is a handsome, blue-eyed, blonde haired two-year-old son. Our second is a beautiful, deep blue-eyed, brunette, 3-month-old daughter. In my average day, I change six to ten diapers. (It used to be almost twice as many, but thanks to recent adventures in potty-training, we’ve almost cut that number in half!) I nurse my daughter every couple of hours, sometimes more frequently depending on if she’s having a growth spurt/teething/etc. I feed my son three meals a day, with snacks in between, all the while trying to keep food healthy. I say “trying” because it is no rare occasion for my son to be given a bag of Goldfish so I can sit in peace while I breastfeed my infant. While trying to juggle just the food part of my day, I also try to get some food in my own belly, keep up with all of the usual tasks that come with being a wife and manage to fit a husband into the mix. Of course, all of this is done with very little sleep, because even when my children decide to sleep well at night, I am constantly waking up worrying about them. My husband and my children are amazing and I wouldn’t trade my life for anything, but would it hurt them to just say, “Thank you!” at the end of each day? I can feel so underappreciated…But am I?
There are these moments when I get overwhelmed, where I just want to feel affirmed in all the work I’m doing, but each of these moments is impacted by the truth.
And the truth is that every moment I spend searching for appreciation, I miss the chance to appreciate all that my family is to me. Perhaps, if I look closely, I will not only see that I am not only being appreciated, but also being loved. When my son pulls on my leg, begging for attention while I try to fix him breakfast, maybe he’s trying to tell me how much he appreciates what I do for him. When my daughter will only stay happy if I’m holding her, maybe that’s her way of telling me how much she loves me. My husband, bless his heart, comes out of his office after a long day of work and cares for the kids while I make dinner. He makes them laugh and smile. Maybe that is his way of telling me how much he appreciates all that I do. So… Am I under appreciated?
No, I am not. I am beyond appreciated. I am loved. I mean everything to my family and they mean everything to me. I am not underappreciated.
It’s amazing how much of life’s beautiful blessings I miss out on all because of my own selfishness. Whether you’re a mom like me or you’re in an entirely different stage of life, my challenge to you (and myself) is this: tell the people around you how much they mean to you. That could mean verbalizing it with a simple “thank you.” It could be a simple note with an encouraging word. For my husband, I will surprise him with a plate of bacon every now and then. Instead of rushing through the cooking process, I slow down and let my toddler help me make our meals. Although my daughter is too young to make her love languages known, when she is being particularly tiresome, I take a deep breath and instead of sighing and begrudgingly entertaining her, I tell her how beautiful she is and how much I love her.
If we change our perspectives and focus on doing the appreciating instead of being appreciated, I think we will find how rich and full our lives really are.
Thanksgiving gives us proper perspective and makes room for noticing, for feeling the blessing of these tiresome little tasks. This is life-changing work.
Because that is exactly what my life is: rich with laughter and full of blessings. I only need to choose to see it.