News flash: Motherhood is the hardest and most thankless job on the planet. (Kidding. This isn’t news. We know this already.)
We talk about being in the trenches with babies and toddlers, where our days are consumed with endless wiping of surfaces and wiping of faces and wiping of butts. We talk about raising teenagers who are cranky and emotional and talk back. And then they grow up and leave. And that’s it. Is that really it, though? Sometimes it feels that way. But then I remember the actual work I’m doing, and I remember what’s underneath it all. And that even though I feel unappreciated, I’ll get my “thank you” eventually.
Amy Weatherly, writer and mom to three kids under 5, feels the same way. In a Facebook post penned earlier this week, the Midland, Texas mom writes: “If this was my job, I would quit. I would soooo quit. I would just walk out of that cubicle, slam the door, and give them the old peace sign and never look back. Or I’d go all Office Space on them and start beating different machines with baseball bats out in the alley outside, and offer them a wave and a ‘bye Felicia.’”
Boy, can I relate. How many times have you thought to yourself, what if I walked out on this gig? Or took an annoying toy outside to be pulverized in the backyard? I mean, you won’t. But some days …
Weatherly’s post goes on to describe exactly what is so hard about stay-at-home mom life.
“I get pooped on. Sometimes literally. I get yelled at. I get argued with. I am constantly cleaning up after other people. Nobody respects my space. Sometimes they take my hard work and just tear it up AND THEN LAUGH ABOUT IT like dang heathens,” she writes. “And then I bring in dinner. Everyone eats it. They complain about it, but they eat it. And then they hand me the dishes like they just expect me to do that too. Again, without a ‘thank you.’ Say what now?”
Weatherly knows it’s all part of the gig — a gig she signed up for and very much wants — but it’s hard to keep going without any gratitude.
“I understand how important this job is, and I love the people I work for, but geezus Louises. Somebody just appreciate me,” she writes. “Maybe give me a mug or a hug or I dunno something else, preferably something that also ends in an -ug so it would also rhyme.”
She also offers other suggestions in her post, too: “Maybe just give me a pat on the back. Maybe just recognize that your bathroom is only clean because I cleaned it. And it was disgusting. Making it in the toilet is not that difficult, I promise. I do it multiple times a day. Neither is flushing, or properly using toilet paper.”
Weatherly tells Babble that as a mom to three tiny people, “The messes are endless. The questions are endless. And some days, my patience is just not. This was one of those days.”
I feel her words in my soul. As a mom who also had three kids under five, I know exactly what this life is like. Mine are older now and do appreciate my hard work (sometimes with my prompting, but whatever, I’ll take it) and help me around the house. But the early baby and toddler days? Those are NO. JOKE.
The most important piece of Weatherly’s post, though, is when she says that her “thank you” and my “thank you” and your “thank you” ARE coming. Maybe not for many years. But they’re coming in the form of the future adults we are raising.
“I will get my bonus check,” she writes. “I will get my giant cake right before leaving time in the break room with the words ‘Way to go!’ scribbled in pink frosting.”
“And that thank you will look a lot like adults who are kind,” she reminds us. “It will look a lot like adults who know how to give and how to work hard and how to respect others. It will look a lot like adults who are strong enough to leave this house one day and make a name for themselves. It will look a lot like adults with the courage to give it their all. It will look a lot like adults who still want to come back home and visit me as often as they can.
And if I’m really lucky. If I’m really, really lucky, it will look a lot like adults who have kids of their own who don’t appreciate them either. Who look back and say ‘Wow, thanks mom. I had no idea what all you did for us, but I totally get it now.’”
But for now, on those long days in the trenches, while we are patiently waiting for them to understand and appreciate us, Weatherly tells Babble that she’ll offer this: “For the mom who needs some hope today, my advice would be to lay in bed with them tonight. Take those 10 minutes when it is dark and still and quiet and ask them questions. Take time to delight in them. I don’t think we do that enough. We get so busy, we don’t take the time to enjoy the beauty of our children.”
And here’s mine: once they are asleep, go pour yourself a glass of wine and give yourself that much-needed pat on the back. Because tomorrow’s another day of messes and spills. But it’s also one day closer to that “thank you” you’ll receive someday.