For the first year of being a SAHM, I was blissfully happy and mothering our two daughters felt like the easiest job in the world. I had left the work world where everything I did was noticed. Some of it was well appreciated, praised, and honored, and some of it was un-welcomed (as a supervisor, not every employee loved what was asked of them). But it was seen. And I was paid for it.
Leaving it to snuggle and raise my baby girls was a dream come true. I remember my last day of work, driving to the sitters to pick up the girls in the middle of the afternoon. I rolled down the windows and squealed at the top of my lungs in gratitude that I was IN THE SUNSHINE instead of an office without windows. I was so ready to be a full time Mom with my girls!
A fun year went by and I sat down beside my husband one night and told him I was so content with two children. I felt like my hands and heart were full and we should be done having kids. He said ok and a few weeks later I found myself staring at a positive pregnancy test. Of course.
I’m going to freely admit that mothering two kids is my Happy Mom Zone, I can handle two. But I’m pretty sure that God not only wanted Charlotte in the world, but He also wanted me to be sure that the grace I had was not my own and He was asking me to lean into Him.
While she was a great baby, parenting my older girls got more intense! When my husband came home, I was not the Happy Mommy he had left that morning, I was emotionally fried and barely making it. And not one adult person saw what I was doing all day! I was saving children from impending death by the second and I was doing it unseen. Unpaid. I only hoped someone in heaven must have been setting aside a few jewels for me!
I didn’t feel like my normal self: joyful, peaceful, filled up and pouring out. I asked God for months how to bridge the gap in our marriage, how to have enough to make it through every day without feeling bleary eyed by 4pm and angry when hubby got home. I was asking God “what is it that I’m needing here!?” Two words dropped into my heart: Recognition and Gratitude. So Josh came home from work that evening and I told him what I needed…
“Babe, this is going to sound so silly and insignificant to you, but everyday I need you to come home and say these exact words to me: WOW, Robin, you did it! You kept the kids alive today!!!! Great job!”
I’m pretty sure he laughed and even managed a tiny eye roll, BUT HE DID IT. Somedays he would forget and I would remind him to say it because I needed it. I needed to know that my most important person recognized my hard work for our family. I needed him to express gratitude that I was sacrificing my sanity, sleep, and space for the hearts of our children. When he verbally recognized the reason I was so spent, it diffused the building tension in my chest. Someone noticed that I had survived and tamed a den of lion cubs for 9 hours by myself. And I made a point to recognize and express gratitude for his hard work for our family while he was at work or serving us at home. That little expression of recognition & gratitude became a pattern in our marriage and has become a pattern in our children.
I recently planted over one hundred daffodils while my husband dug cement posts out of the backyard. We looked at each other and said “good job! Thank you for working so hard today!” When I change the sheets, our three-year-old says, “thank you for serving our family by changing the sheets Mommy!” Recognition and Gratitude have become our family culture, and I LOVE it. I crave it, I need it, and so does every other person in our house.
In the early days of having children, this would have saved us so many fights over who was doing more work for the family; I wouldn’t have felt like I had to explain how many bottle pieces I had to wash in a day (it was 33 btw) to get some kind of validation that what I did mattered. And if I had been expressing those two words also, he would have felt like he was contributing to the family instead of being made to feel like he wasn’t doing enough. We were grateful, but we weren’t verbally recognizing and expressing gratitude. Now that we do, I feel like we are a partnership, like we really are best friends, and my capacity for life and motherhood has multiplied.
And I am so so grateful.