Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Rat on a Wheel

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.


  1. The book "In praise of SAHMs" is very good when it comes to pointing these things up. I reccomend it for all SAHMs...but not for those of us who have no choice but to work as its pretty degrading to moms who work both in and out of home

  2. Working outside of the home is a choice, the same as staying home is a choice, and both must be treated with respect as every family makes the best choice they can for the circumstances they are in.

    And one choice isn't for always (I went to work last year and then decided to stop and stay home this year, and I want to remain open to what makes the most sense in the future).

    Respect is the key, from one group to the next, and for people outside of each situation not to be judgemental.

  3. Sorry I didnt write that very well...that is what happens when you try to write comments in the 2 mins between dinner and putting the kid to bed.

    What I meant is the book "In Prasie of Stay at Home Moms" is very good at pointing out the value of SAHMs. I recommend it to any SAHM, it is very affirming...the other comment was more to the effect that I just don't recommend anyone give it as a gift (to someone who is not already a SAHM) as it piled a lot of guilt on me when the opportunity for me to be a SAHM is not a current possibility without extreme measures..:)

    See you tomorrow!

  4. I know all about writing with a 2 minute window and interruptions all around so no apologies required!

    I know I tend to get prickly about the idea that I'm "able to stay home" as though it is an easy and simple choice, because it's not. We sacrificed a lot of material things by cutting every possible corner, particularly in the beginning, and it's only now a little financially easier to not have 2 solid incomes coming in, and both of my kids are almost in school.

    It's hard every which way (working outside of the home or in the home), but I do think respect is the goal for families work in so many different ways, and it's not up to any mom to judge any other mom for her choices.

    Thanks for your comments, Cortney, and see you tomorrow!

  5. I can totally empathize here! I think that's part of why I occasionally post Facebook statuses like "Bonnie did this and this and this and this and this" today, because they are all small tasks but it makes me feel good to stop and say, I got it all done (and will do it all again next week!).