A friend posted on Facebook that she wanted to go on Mommy Strike. A conversation ensued, joking that the strike is a moot point as the kids end up eating cookies for dinner, the house becomes a mess and hubby is fast asleep on the couch ignoring it all.
But, as any mother will attest, it is our life’s mission to hear those three little words, “I appreciate you.” And, as any mother knows, the odds of that happening are usually slim to none. So, what’s a mom to do when she feels overworked and underpaid in gratefulness?
All jobs we seek in this world come with motivating factors: bonuses, overtime, accolades and promotions. Motherhood is the job of all jobs, so there must be another way to look at how we receive our bonuses (we are already aware of the overtime).
A wise woman once told me that in order for a woman to see the value of her life, she must sometimes step away. Take a breather and do something for yourself. Constantly giving to others and leaving nothing for ourselves leaves one tired, unappreciated and angry.
Reading a book, taking a walk or getting some personal writing time really allows you to put everything back into perspective and reaffirm why we do this difficult job. We are raising lives, molding futures and even though changing a diaper or preparing a meal doesn’t feel uplifting, it’s all a wheel in a great cog of developing lives.
Ask for what we need
This is a doozy of a thing for some women in general, not just mothers. Having been taught from birth that we should be ladylike or not too aggressive, women sometimes have a difficult time just asking for the appreciation we seek.
No, your 2-year-old is not going to be able to say thank you for all you do. Instead she will throw a tantrum at the grocery store. No, your teenager is not going to burst into a monologue about how lucky he is that you’re his mother while throwing “I hate you” into your face. But your significant other certainly can step into the role of noticing and appreciating how hard you work.
Sometimes in the day-to-day of life this little notion randomly to say thank you gets ignored and then you feel ignored. But having a conversation about what you need can be all the difference in form and function of motherhood.
Little sticky notes of appreciation, dad’s night preparing dinner (without asking you for any help along the way) or a night off per his demand can all be simple and effective ways to show you that he is thankful for your efforts.
If you are feeling desperately underappreciated, accept some of the responsibility that you have not fully communicated your needs. But it’s not too late to change things.
Kids show gratitude in different ways
As a mother, I often find my appreciation in smaller, less verbal ways. A hug after preschool from my little one, a small “mmm” on my yummy dinner, a nod of thanks for a ride to the mall are small little “bonuses” I get in my job. There are times I help my daughter out of a social jam or dry tears from a fight with a friend that I feel my little “promotion” from Decent Mom to Super Mom for the day.
Although there are no declarations from my children at the wondrous parent they have been lucky enough to be born from, I do have declarations often enough that keep me going.
Being a mother is no doubt the hardest job on the planet, but it doesn’t have to be the most thankless. Taking moments to remember how incredibly blessed we truly are, how it’s OK to take a breather and that it’s vital to ask for what we need are all ways to keep chugging on in the Appreciation Nation.
Sara Kutliroff is a freelance writer living in Skokie with her husband, Daniel, and their four children ranging in age from 3 to 15.