Yesterday I went to a small playgroup. It was just me and The Squad and two other Moms that live right around the corner from me and their three children. We were all talking about what it is really like to be home with your kids all day and I confessed to them that I can’t even manage to take a shower until after Gabe is home from work and the kids are in bed. One of them said “Well, yeah. At that age it is impossible”.
Last night when I got home I was telling Gabe how great it was to hear that. I felt like I was carrying around this secret that I was a total failure and I couldn’t even manage to bathe like a regular person and it turns out that this is a completely normal thing. Then Gabe said “Yeah, you’re doing a great job. You get them out of the house and the place isn’t a total wreck and we hardly ever run out of food or clean clothes”. He told me he knew some days just keeping up with them could take all my time and energy. He said that the kids were more important than anything else and that they were learning new things every day.
I was completely floored.
Until he said this out loud I hadn’t realized that I thought that he thought I was a crappy mother. I’m not even sure why I thought it. I said “You really think I’m doing a good job?” and he said “Yeah. I thought you knew that”.
I cannot believe the weight this has taken off of my shoulders. I remember before I ever had kids Tammy calling me and crying. She was telling me how hard it was to keep up with everything and nobody ever tells you that you are doing a good job. I told her I thought she was doing a great job. I still think that Tammy is a fantastic Mom. Her boys are smart and polite and they both have a great sense of humor. They way I taught The Goon Squad to say “please” and “thank you” was a direct Tammy rip-off. I also remember being kind of surprised that her parents didn’t tell her she was doing a good job.
I guess as much as you can think you are prepared for your entire life to be about your children, on some level you still expect some sort of acknowledgement for your sacrifices. Not that it would change anything – I think we would have all still had kids anyway. Maybe the surprising thing is that I am so focused on the kids I forgot that I even needed praise until I got some when I was least expecting it.
The funny thing is that we spend all day clapping and yelling “Good dancing Ian! or “Good counting Claudia!”. We inundate the twins with praise all of the time. Last night Gabe and I were literally “hooting and hollering” for almost twenty minutes while the kids were trying to play catch with each other.
I tell Gabe that I love him every day. I guess I should tell him what a wonderful father I think he is more often. It isn’t that I don’t think it all the time. We just get so caught up in the immediate details of everyday life that we don’t take the time to let each other know what they are doing right. I guess it is just the kind of thing we forget to say out loud.