Our lives are anchored in the mundane routine of chores and tiny tasks which add up to a lot, but seem inconsequential and maddeningly frustrating when taken individually. And when I say "our lives" I think I really mean "women's lives." Most men who have wives don't manage anywhere near the same number of mind-numbing tasks that are required to keep a family humming along.
I don't think that my husband really understands how much busywork goes into my days and my evenings. I am beyond grateful to stay home with my kids, and I understand that he works very hard at his job, but sometimes I become aware of a simmering rage doing all that I do because most of it isn't noticed by anyone.
It's all of the little things that only other moms really understand. Once in awhile we forget why we are working so hard for so little recognition, and then we remind ourselves that our work is important. I think we need to affirm each other, because as a society we don't hear much in the way of positive feedback. In the workplace, both men and women face a lot of stress and difficult people, but you also get fairly regular feedback on how you are doing.
As a mom and as a woman who has chosen to stay home with my young kids, I find positive regard from outside sources to be in very short supply. I know that when I have a good day with my kids, like I wrote about yesterday, I realize that the proof of what I am working for lies in them, and often it is enough for me. Then there are the other days, when our behind the scenes work is overlooked at best and semi-scorned at worst and we have to painstakingly rebuild our confidence in ourselves.
What I am building is designed to last a lifetime. Putting time and energy into my kids is not wasted time. It's intentional. Every day that I get them safely from waking up in the morning to going to bed in the evening, and they know that they are loved and valued, is a day that I have spent investing in them as the next generation.
As a mom, I'm going to look for more ways to encourage other moms that our work is valuable, even when it feels like we are a rat on a wheel in a tiny cage in a pet store, repeating the same monotonous tasks over and over again. We are in fact much more than the sum of our little but important tasks. My kids won't remember all of the meals I made, the baths I supervised, the stories I read or the conversations I had with them, but they will remember that I was the one doing those things for them, and for one reason only: love.