March 03, 2008,
J.F. asks from Evanston, IL on February 27, 2008
Do you ever get frustrated because you feel unappreciated? I mean, to the point that you're angry about it? I love my family and most of the time I'm very grateful for them. But I work a full-time job that requires attention almost every day of the week, I have three very active kids whose activities and playdates need wrangling and carpooling, and a too-small apartment that's always crowded and messy. My husband works from home most of the time (for about six months now) so he's around a lot, which is great because he's very involved with the boys. But when he's in a bad mood or loses his temper, I get angry because I feel like he never appreciates everything I do.
Part of this is my fault -- I'm used to "doing everything," so I coordinate all the activities, take care of what little social calendar we have (otherwise we'd never see anyone or go anywhere), cook meals when I'm home, arrange doctor appointments, handle the middle guy's special needs services, volunteer at school, do all of the shopping, shlep to Sunday School, handle birthday gifts and parties, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum (literally).
I take a lot of pride in being able to coordinate all of this stuff on top of my very demanding job, and to be honest, I don't know how to relax even if I had the time... all I ask is that once in a while, somebody tell me it's appreciated. It's exhausting keeping up with all of this, and a little "thanks, Mommy," and "thanks, Honey," would be really helpful. I've talked about this before with my husband but he very easily forgets.
Sorry for the depressing rant... I guess I just needed to get it off of my chest!!
S.G. answers from Chicago on February 28, 2008
Dear J. and all other moms out there with this problem,
Good luck! I have been married for almost 30 years to a wonderful man- my highschool sweetheart- who has never thought all on his own to bring me flowers or say thank you for all that I do. Now that my kids are older my daughter occasionally hears that I am having a hard day and calls him at work to tell him to get me flowers or do something nice for me. (it's good to finally have an advocate) When the kids were yougner I remember occasionally going off the deep end because all I wanted or needed from anyone was a "thank you" or an offer of a little help- even an offer would have gone a long way. In some ways I think we make it too easy for them to take us for granted. Women are the "gatherers" who can do so many things at one time- men arereally good at focusing on one thing (work, the newspaper, the football game), but if you ask them to feed the kids while the game is on, forget it! I have pretty much given up after all these years. I buy myself flowers when I want them and I even buy myself presents, show them to him and say, "Thanks, honey. These are beautiful earrings that you bought me just because you love me"! (I buy less expensive things for those impromptu gifts- I leave the pricier ones to him) I know he loves me and appreciates me but it just isn't in his realm to say it too often, if ever. The part that worries me is I wonder what it taught my kids while they were growing up? What kind of husband will my son be when the time comes? I'm looking forward to other responses...
K.C. answers from Chicago on February 28, 2008
It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?' Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this ? Can you tie this? Can you open this?
Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'
I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!
One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:
'To Cha rlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'
In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.
A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.' And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'
I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'
A t times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.
I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.
When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'You're gonna love it there.'
As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.
Great Job, MOM!
Share this with all the Invisible Moms you know... I just did.
The Will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.
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I.B. answers from Springfield on February 28, 2008
I was where you are. I am older now and looking back I would have done things a lot differently. You have to be happy first, realize the most important things are your kids and your husband. Don't just do everything yourself and then resent it, get mad, and then tell people what you need (i.e. thank yous, etc.) delegate chores NOW. This will make everyone feel like they are a part of a unit and you will feel like you are all working together not just you doing everything with them sitting back waiting for you to take care of everything. Things won't get done perfectly the way you do them and some activities may be missed once in a while but so what! In the long run it is more important to be able to relax and enjoy your family instead of seeing them as another chore to be done. It will take time and a lot of "letting go" on your part but, in the end what would you like your kids to remember and take forward into thier own familes someday? The idea of a clean house and a full schedule with a stressed out mom or a messy house and schedule of special activities and a mother and father that can laugh and relax and enjoy thier children during the short time they are blessed to be in thier daily lives. They and you need to put the people first and the "things" will fall into place.
I have been married for 28 years and have two grown sons, a fantastic daughter-in-law, and a beatiful granddaughter.
2 moms found this helpful
D.L. answers from Chicago on February 28, 2008
I totally understand how you feel. I have 5 kids in a too small apt and I also feel unappreciated sometimes. The most important thing is to talk to your husband and also organization. I make sure there is no clutter and everything has a place. The older kids all have there chores which really isnt much make bed, do their laundry, unload 1/2 dishwasher. Ask your husband in help in keeping the house clean I had to ask my husband for 6 months everyday to hang his coat in the closet not throw it on the floor but finally he is getting it... It really helps when things are put away after use. It might be hard at first but before you know it it they will be automatically putting things away and keeping the house clean.. good luck
T.C. answers from Chicago on February 28, 2008
Hi J., I'm T.. I must admit I was shaking my head in complete understanding the entire time I read your message. I am a single mother of two and I work a full time job as well. My daughters are old enough to do things for themselves but they tend to just wait around for me to do it all. I, much like yourself, take pride in being able to "conquer the world". Are you a Leo? There are times when I'm soooo angry because my daughters don't take the initiative and rarely recognize my efforts. One of my daughters has a father who cares and participates in her life although it's one day a week and every other weekend. Thankfully, he includes my older daughter sometimes as well. I've had to sometimes let things just fall through the cracks in order to get their butts in gear. I go out by myself once in a while. Take a little longer at the store. Purposely forget to take something out for dinner. Wait a little longer before I do the laundry. Sometimes you have to practice tough love and give yourself a little more love. You've heard the expression: if you don't toot your horn, no-one else will. Do you ever wonder what God feels like? I bet he feels like us. He does sooooooo much and nobody appreciates. Chin up, chest out, now go ahead and be a supermom. If no-one else says so, I will. Thanks for all that you do. I appreciate the late nights, the worrying over who needs to get where and when, how to make time for groceries and laundry. I am thankful that you take the time to care for your family that you family is one less statistic where the kid has run away and the father is abusive. Thank you for holding it together and making it look easy. You are a genius and there is no-one better at being you than you.
H.E. answers from Chicago on February 27, 2008
OOOOHH I know. I have half the amount of stuff on my plate and I feel just as unappretiated. I think husbands get so wrapped up in daily life, they just forget how important it is to us. A good support group, outside of this forum!!, helps tremendously. What I mean by support is just a small clan of women in the same boat. Go out for a short lunch or switch off having the ladies over for beverages/apps so you can all vent. It helps knowing there are girls going through the same stuff without much gratuity. One day, when you have big, strong, successful boys, they will come to you with appreciation. But I know it is hardly a self rewarding feat. When I am feeling this way, I treat MYSELF :) A glass of wine, a new book, a nice pair of shoes(from Marshalls of course) or anything that puts a smile on your face.
I know I got so frustrated with my husband when he walked in the door with a bouquet of flowers from Walmart with the price tag still attatched that said $4.88 on Valentines day. And a new pair of work jeans for himself in the other hand. I was so pissed off. But then I realized he thinks he did good!! I had in mind more of something like a weekend away, or a gift card to my fave store. He is just a guy with not a lot of creativity in the gifting area, we're still working on that. That really is his only flaw, other than that he is the greatest husband on earth. I know inside he is grateful b/c of how hard he works too. Maybe giving your husb in on your feelings, I know you said you have before, but let him know how important a thank you once in awhile is to keep you motivated and positive and most importantly, going!! Even a strong hug at the end of the day to say, get some rest your a great mom and wife. It doesn't hurt to initiate the hugs either, letting him know you need some love!!!
I worked full time until last year, we have 2 kids and I just couldn't do it anymore stress wise. I would come home a beast and was yelling and tired all the time. Not for me, so any mom out there that does do it all deserves a huge pat on the back and I admire all that still do.
R.A. answers from Chicago on February 28, 2008
Yikes! You've just so accurately described my CRAZY home / work life! I wish I could offer advice, but I'm still not able to get a handle on my own situation. I have 3 rambunctious kids: 11, 3 and almost 2. My hubby stayed home with them for 4 months and CONSTANTLY reminds me how much he did for our little family while I supoorted ALL of us financially during this time period. I think u hit the nail on the head - it's OUR OWN expectation to get all activities done... everyone just ASSUMES we love it and it'll always get done. I have started delegating some tasks to my kids (laundry, toy sorting, etc.) I've finally spoken up about the bathroom getting cleaned and DH has been better about cleaning the kitchen and living room. I'm sure the delegated tasks seem minor to u, but they make a ton of difference as to how much time I'll have to sort thru mail, pay bills, drop a load of laundry,etc.
Best of luck to you.. Let us know how you're holding up!
S.B. answers from Chicago on February 27, 2008
Oh do I hear you on this! I am a sahm now due to a disability. I get dizzy spells and have since an infant. I am a labor doula too. My youngest is special needs! He is 4. I also have 2 girls. My dh works 2nd shift. He is not that involved and even when I worked he was not. I do almost everything and it is upsetting. He gets crabby and gets nasty sometimes too and I. Hate it. And as he gets older it seems to get worse.
S. bailey cld
H.J. answers from Chicago on February 28, 2008
Have you told your husband how you feel? I think that would be a the very first thing to do. Talk about specific things. Warn him that you want to talk about the division of labor for household things. Tell him exactly how big a deal this is. Tell him that you would like to make appreciation a regular part of life. Teach your children to thank both you and your husband.
You should thank each other in front of your children so they can learn by example. When you ask your husband to bring you something and he gets it for you, thank him. Look him in the eyes and thank him for the specific thing he did for you.
You need to get this off your chest with your husband in a constructive way. Schedule a date night, a working date of sorts. GO someplace where you can really talk untinterrupted for a while. Tell him ahead of time what you want to talk about, and ask him to prepare and really think about it ahead of time so you two can have a constructive conversation.
You may need to get a counselor involved if he doesn't think there's a problem. Don't minimize this. Make it very clear exactly how upset this makes you, and exactly how you feel when you get the idea that your work is being taken for granted. Perhaps he doesn't have a clue what goes into everything you do. And that's your responsibility. You have to tell him or he won't have a clue. And if he misses the boat on that, that's your shortcoming, not his.