Yesterday, I was talking with a good friend of mine about the terror of a child I had for the day. My own child that is. I should say that I was venting, more than anything else. My friend has a toddler of her own, her first child, and she is finally getting to experience the life that I have lived for the past almost eighteen years of my life. The funny thing is that our two young children do a lot of the same things as each other, so our conversations wind up being us laughing about similar moments that we have both witnessed with them individually.
I do, wholeheartedly, love my child, but she has a gift for being able to drive me to distraction in ways that no other child of mine has ever been able to do. Probably because she is the one most like me, in temperament. Aside from being impatient, hot headed and kind of foul mouthed – She has her good points. She’s incredibly bright and because of that brain that is constantly going ninety to nothing, she is also insanely argumentative. She questions everything and does not settle with a simple, “Because I said so,” for an answer. She wants to understand why it is that her room needs to be cleaned, or she should finish her food or why she needs to be wearing warm clothes instead of her bathing suit in the dead of winter. Most days, are comedic episodes of her trying to negotiate a deal with me, that if I were to accept, she would almost assuredly re-neg on. Such as, “Mom, if you give me some chocolate now, I will go clean my room after I’m done eating it.” Yeah… Fat chance. Apparently she also believes that I was born yesterday. I argue the fact that it is six o’clock in the morning and no one needs chocolate at 6am, which usually lands like a lead balloon.
As I was complaining to my friend about how much cleaning I had been doing only for my child to rip through the house effectively undoing everything that I had just done, I tried to remember a time where this wasn’t a part of my daily conversations, and I couldn’t. As mothers, we do so much within one day and forget that this makes us pretty extraordinary! My husband can leave the house to go pick up my teenage daughter, an hour and half away, and by the time he comes back I have started a load of laundry, folded another load, cleaned the kitchen, cooked dinner, taken a bath, tidied up the house that resembles more of a toy factory than an actual home, changed everyone’s bedding, written an article and as he walks in the door I am back to vegging in front of the TV, as if I never left that spot. He will send me texts throughout the day asking me how my day is going and I will unload on him the many moments of the day so far where I have nearly given our child away and pulled all of my hair out. When his question of, “How’s your day?” was expected to be answered with a, “Fine,” rather than a dissertation on why I am a stone’s throw away from crazy town.
As I thought about it, I realized that my venting to any nearby adult, was really a cry for solidarity and in some cases – A plea for help or at the very least, a break. I am not one of those mothers lucky enough to have a babysitter on hand so that I can run errands alone, or go out on a date with my husband. I haven’t been to a restaurant that didn’t have crayons and coloring placemats readily available for children, in so many years that I’ve forgotten what that experience feels like. It’s been a while since I have gone anywhere that I haven’t had to talk commandingly through the cracks of my teeth at my young child who is acting a fool, all while keeping a psychotic grin across my face. It’s been a while.
Even as I write this, I am having to calmly tell my daughter that, “Mommy is writing and if you can go play quietly, just long enough for me to finish, then we can play together for the rest of the day.” She shook my hand and said, “It’s a deal.” And in a few minutes, she will be back in here, two inches from my face and showing me her my little pony doll, that I have not only seen a million times, but that I also picked out for her, myself.
With all that we mothers do within a day, it is easy to see how we often can feel so underappreciated. On the flip side, if we were to hear a “thank you,” after every little thing we do, we would be hearing it all day long and that, would probably make us crazy, too. For us, it is second nature to man the ship and take care of everything ourselves. My teenage daughter’s step mother and I often laugh about how insane our normal days are and how the whole family would collectively fall apart if it weren’t for us. She may not be a biological mother herself, but she stands in place of me as role of mother to my teenage daughter – And that makes her a mom.
I am lucky in the fact that I have a husband who I have trained to help out around the house. He sees the crazy rising up in me and immediately goes to work to stave off the impending explosion that’s on the verge of occurring. I can’t complain about him, he’s a good man who loves his wife, daughter and step-daughter and wants to play an active role. However, he goes to work and cannot be my right hand for most of the day. Some days I feel bad for him. He comes home to find me utterly wiped out and trying to collect myself. Still wearing the pajamas that I was wearing earlier that morning, when he left the house. Who am I kidding, I have been wearing these same pajamas for days on end, my hair is a mess and I resemble more of a homeless person than the delicate flower that he married. Well, delicate may be too extreme, but you get where I’m going with this. He comes home to this mess of a woman and still wants to stay married to me despite it, so I really cannot complain.
A while back he and I had a small tiff about my lack of enthusiasm for him, as he walks through the door each evening. For me, I thought, how could he think I’m not excited to see him? If anything he should see the look of total relief across my face for finally being able to go to the restroom BY MYSELF, for the first time that day! But that isn’t along the same lines of the excitement he was hoping for, and I get it. He wants me to be excited to see HIM, not so much the fact of what his presence in the house means to my daily routine. Unfortunately, he married someone who is fairly logical and sort of oblivious to sentiment, who looks at the mechanics of things rather than love-struck and overly emotional. We will be watching a movie and I will feel his eyes peering at me as he adorns a Cheshire grin from ear to ear. I look over and respond with, “What?” To which he replies, “You’re so beautiful,” and I smirk while shaking my head no, knowing good and well that beautiful is the last word to describe me at that moment. If he would’ve said, “You’re so crazy,” or “You smell like a homeless person,” that I would believe, but beautiful, not this girl!
I remember as a kid, my mother would take a bath and put on a fresh face of make-up every evening before my dad got home. I used to wonder why she was getting so dolled up when they weren’t going anywhere. She would roll her hair up in those giant soup can curlers and then lay her head across the ironing board as she ironed her hair straight as a bone. (Yes, I am that old that at-home straightening irons did not exist.) She would put on her pantyhose that were hang-drying over the shower curtain rod, after they had been rolled up long ways, in a bath towel for most of the day, and after she was done getting all dressed up she took to the kitchen to make dinner. I remember thinking, she is doing way too much just to make us some spaghetti, but what do I know? She was getting prettied up for her man. No matter how trying the four of us kids were for her in that day, she made sure to look like she had it all together and hadn’t been chasing us around with a wooden spoon, earlier that day. And my dad, was none the wiser.
We get caught up in the workings of our day and forget about showing gratitude to each other for all that we do. In my case, my husband likely deserves some appreciation for going off to work in the elements all day long while I stay inside, warm and cozy in my pajamas and trying not to lose my mind on my child. He’s dealing with random people whom he doesn’t love, and all of their craziness and I am dealing with people whom I do love and theirs. Though it’s difficult, I think I may be making out a lot better than him on this deal.
It doesn’t matter what role you play within your relationship, if you’re the sappy sentimental one or otherwise, we are all looking to be appreciated in our roles. Sometimes as women, possibly because we do carry so much of the responsibility at home and with the children, we forget that our husbands are out there working hard, too. We feel it almost necessary to inundate them with the goings on of our day when in times past, it was more prevalent that we seem to have it all together and under control. If your kids are happy, healthy and cared for – not to mention, still alive, at the end of the day – You have done your job. My husband’s job may not consist of his day ending with wanting to permanently run away from his co-workers, as I experience most days with our kids, but he is in fact still working hard.
I may never be the woman who dolls herself up in make-up and gut binding pantyhose each day, awaiting my husband’s arrival, but I’m pretty sure that I can handle throwing him a smile coupled with a hug for being out there all day, doing what he does. I see his appreciation for me in the many things that he does each day. Because I am an actions person, I need to see the appreciation rather than hear it. Show me, and I will undoubtedly notice. He, on the other hand, is a words person. Tell me, and make it believable. Because I am better speaking my thoughts and sentiments through writing, it’s hard for me to get those words to actually come out of my mouth. I’ve thought about writing him a note and just placing it in his hand when he walks in, but I think that may muddy the waters of sentiment. Also, because I am an actions person, I am giving to him what I need to receive, not realizing that his needs are not the same as mine. He needs to hear, “I’m so glad that you’re home, I’ve counted the minutes of your return,” possibly while barely clothed in lingerie. Whereas I, need to see him do the dishes. We’re different like that.
This all goes back to my prior article of meeting someone at their place of need. The way that I show my love is by doing and that can often be lost on the ones who need to hear the words of affirmation. Children, especially are a great example of this. My kids do not realize yet, that everything that I do for them is because of the fact that I love them. Instead they need to hear me say that I love them, and so I do. Hundreds of times per day. It’s not a giant leap in thought to think that maybe my husband works in the same way. At the end of the day, I unconditionally and overwhelmingly love each person within my home, but am I communicating that love in the way that they are designed to feel it? Am I speaking my appreciation for them as well as showing it throughout all of my mundane responsibilities? Am I giving as much praise as I am complaints? It’s easy for me to get stuck in the rut of routine and it’s equally easy for me to forget that the boring stuff that I do, comes from a place of love. Is it not understandable that they can forget this fact, as well?
As women and mothers, we give a lot of ourselves. About 99%, for that matter. Sometimes because we give so much in the countless things that we take care of, we forget that everyone else is also giving of themselves, too. We aren’t the only ones sacrificing and we aren’t the only ones showing love. The language may be different, but the message is the same – LOVE. We all speak it in one form or another and we all in turn need to hear it and receive it, in kind. This is what makes us feel the appreciation that we at times feel shortchanged of. Show your love today in the way that the person beside you, can hear it and feel it. You know their language better than anyone else!