Mothering/home keeping just sucks the wind out of me some days. Thankless is the name of the game.
As you read this, if you feel my plight, please chime in as I could use the solidarity.
We have all heard that motherhood is a thankless job but I was foolish enough to think that those mothers that weren’t thanked were simply doing the job wrong and because I was dedicating myself to it wholly, as my profession, I would do the job in a way where I avoided that pit fall of being taken for granted. I would surely raise young people who valued me.
Whatever I do, perhaps whatever any mother does, is met with scrutiny and dissatisfaction and mockery and a lack of appreciation by our children and it actually hurts my heart so. very. much.
I am an evolved person. An empathetic person. A person who is very self aware. I know we are a product of our circumstances and I know the role my own childhood plays in my mothering. I try to balance my needs and expectations of others with the knowledge that my husband and kids have a different foundation of thought and need.
I grew up in a house that was always too messy to enjoy…piles of magazines and mail and laundry and last seasons holiday decorations…obvious, teetering piles, that meant I never felt comfortable in any room and I never wanted to have friends over. I dared not clean or straighten anything as that made me the target for my mother’s fury at not being able to find something, or screaming about the odor of a cleaning product that sent her to her room with a “migraine” or accusations that I had scratched furniture or marred her paint. I couldn’t win.
I knew I wanted a home that made relaxing a priority but I also knew that I didn’t want a careless environment. Now that the kids are grown, I am actively making this house something too can enjoy. I look forward to having an attractive, well appointed and artful place to welcome a guest. A place to sit and read or entertain a friend without chaos on the table next to you. I really like one room to be company ready at all times so we bought a home with a formal living room AND a family room. The family room is where you can take a snack and a drink and watch a movie with little worry. The living room is not.
I make an effort to keep the house “pile free” but I never worry about it being spotless or sanitized. I want order and balance and ease and there are places for all of that in our home. Yet my children ceaselessly mock my efforts to upgrade the living room and dining room into adult spaces…though they are adults themselves. My decorating the living room and dining rooms has been met with endless jabs. As though claiming any space in the house for my own dreams is an affront to them and theirs.
With regard to cleaning the house, I mostly pick up after every member of this family. I alone, with rare exceptions, sweep, dust, mop, cobweb and tidy. I wanted my family members lives to be easy and free of the worries that I had as a child. I demand a few things be done by other members (put your own dish in the dishwasher, take your shoes with you when you leave the room) but mostly, I still do everything myself because, even at 17 and 20, any request to have one of them take their messes to their room, put away the laundry that I washed, dried and folded for them, even clear their plates, is too often greeted with huffs, sighs, claims that they don’t have time or that I am being unreasonable, as the door closes behind them. They are adults but I am still the one who takes care of their messes and I resent it.
I am more accepting that I have created an environment where they have lifelong expectations that I do everything for them than I am that they do not really appreciate any of what I do for them. Add to that, the sad, stinging realization that my kids gang up on me in slight mocking sessions or little insults about how what I asked of them or expect of them is unreasonable or unnecessary. A mini version of “gas-lighting” if you will.
I thought I had created an environment of care, love, and respect but what has become abundantly clear is that no matter the effort or the pure heart behind the effort, the job of mothering and housekeeping is one that is to be dismissed by the beneficiaries, and the mother herself is to be marginalized as not worthy of the emotional care that her children received.
Perhaps this is a necessary step in the children growing up and leaving…taking even the most conscientious mother for granted and tearing her down just a little bit to build themselves up.
But it is NOT the reward I know I should have justly earned by NOT repeating my mothers mistakes…by keeping my children’s needs in mind in my decisions for our home…by working every day of their lives to be the mother they each needed…by assessing their individual needs, caring for their hearts, their bodies, their minds and tending to the environment that is vital to them flourishing.
I can’t win, and that hurts.