Feeling small

The boys are "snacking" like wild animals who've just happened upon a trough of sustenance, and I've been folding laundry and trying to keep things running smoothly until Jack and I leave for his green belt testing. Tom's always got the most laundry, followed by the boys. I am a vastly distant fourth, my few freshly clean clothes taking up such a minute bit of the laundry basket. I'm often struck by this discrepancy and consider it as frequently: am I that much cleaner than the guys? do I wear things more times in between washings (due to the aforementioned cleanliness AND a willingness to actually hang or put something back up)? It could be both of those and more, but on hard days, I sometimes feel as if that corner of the basket is a sad analogy of my, and many mothers', role and presence in the home. Or, perhaps more accurately, our experience of that role. I have said before and I mean it, that I feel extraordinarily grateful to be able to stay home with my boys. I've never doubted that it's benefited (benefiting) them and facilitated a deep connection between us. But the rewards don't always feel commensurate with the input and energy required to be an at-home mom; nor does the acknowledgment, or lack thereof, we receive. No one's patting you on the back because you set a record in amount of laundry folded in one week. No one's throwing a party because you keep the corners free of dust, the toilet paper stocked, the milk fresh, the bags zipped, fingernails clipped, sheets changed and on and on. This is the minutiae of domesticity that, in concert with all else, can wear and make women start to think, "what in the sam hill am I doing?"

Most of the time, I take pleasure in maintaining my family's life. I love picking my boys up each day, love welcoming T home each night, love cooking healthful and tasty meals for them, take pride in a now-incredibly-finely-honed ability to multi-task. I'm sure most of us feel this way at least some of the time if not much more. But sometimes, when the kids seem utterly ungrateful, the words of appreciation have been lost in the flood of daily busy'ness, some random driver honks at me at just the wrong time, I can start to feel a bit blue, a bit small, like my items of laundry. It starts to feel like the scales of hard work and fulfillment are mightily out of balance.

In my experiences talking with others, this is not uncommon but the fact that this unpleasant emotion is a shared one doesn't make it easier to feel. It's comforting to know others are in your boat, but if the boat is sinking, you're still on it. I know that after a night of sleep (debate be damned?) or even a good hug from my kiddos, most of this malaise will wash away, swept out to sea by an immense feeling of love and thankfulness. But as do the tides, it will surely roll back in at some point, an unwelcome guest but one many of us know is not as distant as we'd wish.

Alas. Some dinner is in order!