Tell Me Something Good

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.

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  1. The Kaiser sent me this email last week, and it made me more confident and secure and proud than I think I’ve been in about, oh, 3 years…I don’t think he’ll mind if I share it:

    “Don’t forget……that I still love you and am happy and lucky to have you. You’re a
    great wife and mom. Our kids are happy and smart, and that’s a direct
    reflection on you and the job you’re doing. EVERYTHING won’t be
    perfect
    ALL the time, but we’ve still got it pretty good. Smooch.”

  2. You kick ass as a mother. The ümläütëër is cööl töö.

    Just wait until the squad get older and they’ll start praising you. Just today I got a “good job kicking the ball, Mommy!”

    Good job kicking the ball, Sarah.

  3. Sarah, you are totally a great mom. I think that all you girls at home are a lot like Scott, you think no one else understands your hell and that those of us at work don’t think you DID anything all day when we get home and the dishes aren’t done or the high chairs are still dirty.
    When in reality…….we’re just so very happy to see you.

  4. I guess yesterday Claudia did say “Yea Mommy!” when I put a DVD on.

    Bridgette, I think part of the problem is that we don’t feel like we get anything accomplished, and so we feel like we look bad when you guys get home. Does that make sense? Being a stay at home parent is so strange. There aren’t any promotions or performance reviews. So it is hard to judge what kind of job you are doing until your children become parents.

  5. Maybe we can start our own performance-review board.

    House still standing? Check.
    Kids still alive? Check.

    Job well done.

    Dishes done? Check.
    Bills paid? Check.

    Bonus!

    Work done on a bigger project? Check.

    Ding-ding-ding-ding! Extra kudos and a weekend off! (Preferably to go drinking in Tampa with us.)

  6. I used to complain that there were no mid-terms, or staff evaluations, and it didn’t seem right that I’d need to wait about 30 years to see how my parenting was gonna turn out.

  7. Ditto what Becky said. Realistic expectations are key. Is the child still alive? The day was a success.

    And hey, you’ve got a spare, so, you know, if one gets away from you, you would still be doing okay.

  8. Love these comments. You ALL rock.

    Robey’s starting to compliment us to, and it is such a reward. This weekend, Jeromy was laying carpet on the steps, and Robey kept saying, “You’re working HARD, Daddy.” Such a little encourager. I laughed everytime he said it.

  9. We just had this conversation in my house, too. At work, I knew I was good at what I did, and that was constantly reinforced by my principal. Any criticism she gave stung a lot less because I got so much more praise. Here at home, I feel so much less sure of myself because it is uncharted territory for me. I need to hear that I’m a good mom, or housekeeper, or wife. I can’t even describe the pride that swells up in me when my husband compliments me on one of these newly acquired skills. Oddly enough, I kept my house very clean when I was still working and didn’t need to be complimented. Now that it IS my job, though, I want to hear it.

    And the bathing thing–I NEVER get one until Chris is home and the babies are in bed. My childless friends are in awe of this. My mom friends completely understand.

  10. Thank you!

    People still don’t want to say if you are doing a good job with your kids. When people compliment something my kids have done, I know that I have done a reasonable job with them so far. Unfortunately you have to wait until they are in school for this!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Sarah,
    I think you rock as a mom. In fact I think all of you who stay at home are amazing. It is a job I could not do. I think that sometimes I forget how hard it really is (I have done it for a total of 8 months, in over 4 years as a parent.) I think it’s great that Gabe told you that you were doing a great job. I know it’s nice to hear, no matter what you spend your day doing. Oh and this comment thing won’t let me be anything but anonymous, but this is Melissa @ http://www.issasworld.typepad.com

  12. My husband and I agree any day where someone got enough food which gets pretty close to a meal and no one visited the ER is a success.

    Ve F Muduh, is the code word I have to type to get my comment on. Does that mean “Word to the mother”? Word to you Sarah! Word to you! : )

  13. Nice post Sarah. I know these are things I’ll never experience, so it’s nice to read posts like this.

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