If your job is to be the only one that notices the wet band-aid that’s been sitting on the edge of a bathtub for two weeks, then you might be a mum. It’s a thankless job most days, but somebody has to do it.
Before I had kids, I thought that all I wanted in the world was to be a SAHM. I envisioned cute aprons, and fresh baked cakes in the oven, and cherub-like faces looking up at me so grateful for all that their mum does for them.
I did not envision being the only one that remembered to put the toilet paper back on the roll and being responsible for making sure that we never ran out of laundry powder and rubbish bags. And, I certainly did not envision tweens that rolled their eyes at me and sighed loudly when I asked them to help out around the house.
Some days, I can have the perspective I need to take pride in the housework. When I worked full-time, it was easier to take pride in my work when I would receive praise from co-workers, bosses, and other people when there was a job well done. But, it’s harder when you’re a stay at home mum and no one says thank you for making sure that dinner is on the table, and there are enough snacks in the pantry for all the kids in the neighbourhood.
It’s a constant struggle to appreciate it when in reality, some days you want to resent the fact that your job is now cook, maid, scheduler, and chauffeur. And sometimes the little people you’re doing it all for take it for granted that you’re always there.
I’ve realised the key to taking pride in the housework is not to do it for praise, but to do the job because I always wanted this. Because, I totally did. Some days when I think about going back to work, or not being able to afford our bills unless I worked outside the home, I want to pinch myself that I’m so lucky. I know many mums would want to be in my position. So, reminding myself of that privilege often helps.
But, it’s hard to have a full-time job that is relentless and thankless, and be part of a society that doesn’t really recognise what you do as real work most days. Society doesn’t see the fact that I am the only one that ever cleans the microwave, and makes sure my kids make it to modball and piano lessons on time as worthwhile endeavours. I know better, though.
But, sometimes knowing better doesn’t make it easier. It’s a constant struggle to be thankful for what I have, demand to be seen, give up on getting recognition, and still have a good attitude about it all.
The thing that gets me through it all though is knowing that my kids are the benefactors. I’m so much more than a maid. I often don’t feel like that some days when the kids dump the LEGO bin out for the fourth time in a day and complain when I ask for help picking it up, but my kids are worth it. The time I get to spend with them is worth it, and the raising good humans part is totally worth it.
For me, some days it’s a roller coaster of emotions.
In one moment I’m thinking thoughts like:
Did no one seriously notice this spoon under the table for yet another day?
Can no one else be responsible for buying cat food?
Are these kids going to be totally ungrateful for the rest of their lives?
And in the next, I’m squeezing my babies tight, soaking up the cute things they say, and making a mental note that I’m so glad that I got to have a teaching moment with one of them.
So, I hang on to what I can to remind myself that yes, it’s a thankless job and somebody has to do it. And, when I really think about it, I’m thankful that person is me.