I vividly remember the moment my husband literally bowed down and praised all I had done that day. I mean, really – as a busy mama carrying what feels like the never-ending invisible load, a moment like this is not one you forget. I was leaning on the kitchen counter, taking a hot minute before embarking on the next task, when my husband got down on his knees, grabbed my hands and said, “You’re a saint, you know that?”
The angels were singing. The skies parted. Time stopped.
Not really, because time stops for no one – especially not for parents of small children. But you get the picture. And let me start by saying that my husband is not an absent parent. He is fully-engaged in all things parenthood, in addition to working full-time. He pulls his weight around the house and with the kids, and while we have our fair share of marital quarrels (read: we’re both right, all the time), division of household and parenting responsibilities is typically not one of them.
But that day had been a particularly rough one. A 6-month check-up for our youngest took a full 60 minutes and resulted in a double ear infection. Prescriptions needed filled. Laundry needed done. The dogs both had vet appointments and our preschooler had ballet. I was also battling my own sinus pressure (Thanks, Ohio!) and was trying desperately to cure it with an abundance of caffeine and Sudafed. I somehow had managed to get our sheets washed, get dinner prepped during nap time and, with a little help from my village, everyone got where they needed to be that day.
But I was visibly exhausted. And I was still thinking of all the other things that didn’t get done that day – and beating myself up for sending my oldest to ballet with grandma so I could stay home with the baby. I felt like I had walked through one of those automatic car washes and been thrown in every direction – physically and mentally. You know the kind of day I’m talking about. We’ve all had them. The kind of day where you start questioning just how early is socially acceptable to bust out the wine.
And there I was, just taking a minute before filling milk cups and wiping noses for the millionth time that day. My husband’s gesture was dramatic and humorous – he had intended it as such, and things like this are the hallmark of our relationship. But he noticed me in a moment where I wasn’t expecting recognition. As mothers, we know that days like this are just part of the job and we’re long past the point of expecting someone to commend us for trudging through the obstacle course that is raising small children. But the unexpected appreciation goes a long way – it’s a gesture I won’t soon forget and a reminder that, despite how I feel some days, maybe I’m doing a good job at this mom gig.
If you’re stuck in a metaphorical car wash, I just want you to know – I see you. I know that if you’re scrolling through Instagram instead of engaging with your kid, it’s not a testament to your parenting style. I understand the cardio workout that went into getting everyone in the car for that appointment you’re still late for. I know that if you’re at Target with all the kids at 9:30 a.m., you’ve likely been up for hours already. I see you, I see you, I see you.
And if you have a busy mom in your life, I encourage you to look around and notice. And more than that – tell them that you notice. Bow down, make a grand dramatic gesture like my husband, or just tell them to head up to bed and you’ll finish packing tomorrow’s lunches. A little goes a long way in these long days and quick years of parenting, and you never know much of an impact a little recognition can make on a tired mama.