When I was a child people used to say that the problem with being a SAHM was that the mother never got any recognition. As opposed to the accolade-rich environment of the modern office, no one ever told SAHMs what a great job they were doing sweeping up those Cheerios. In retrospect, I think these people may have had a decidedly pre-Dilbert-era view of the office environment, and lots of bosses are at least as unappreciative as three-year-olds. They can't be put into time out either. But this view is wrong for another reason.
My difficulty is not that no one notices the good things I do and comments. The problem is that my best achievements as a mother make absolutely no sense to anyone who isn't me.
Case in point. I mentioned last week that I was knitting a sweater at my daughter's request. It was very pink. It was in very thin yarn. It was in an awful pattern (that she picked). It was a month-long slog of a sweater, of endless pink stockingette. If you don't knit, read that as "extremely boring." But it was fine, because this was the special sweater that my daughter picked out, that she would treasure as an example of how, sure, she may be nearly-the-oldest-of-five, but that doesn't mean her mother doesn't have time to do pointlessly labour-intensive projects just for her.
So I got it off of the needles, she tried it on, and . . . she hated it. It turns out it itches. Yes, it's a wool sweater. Yes, she has worn wool sweaters before. But _this_ wool sweater is itchy.
Did I mention she chose the yarn?
There is no way to redeem the sweater at this point. I can pack it away and hope it goes over better with my now-one-year-old. I couldn't sell the boys on it; We're just not that progressive. If my one-year-old does agree to wear it, it will go in her mental Rolodex as "yet another time my mom gave me Munchkin's hand-me-downs."
So what's my mothering achievement? Not only did I not pitch the toddler-worthy fit that this situation clearly called for, but my eight-year-old does not even know I was upset. Since my eight-year-old has been known to cry if I frown at her, for her to go blissfully along, unbothered by the escapade, is a sign that I have some really epic self control.
It is possible that I was actually secretly perhaps a tiny bit bothered.
So that's the problem with accolades for SAHMs. They're always about the praise-worthy stuff -- knitting a sweater or making the umpteenth batch of cupcakes. No one understands the important stuff I do.
Also, in retrospect, it's probably best that if you can knit, you don't let the children find out about that. I've lost hours of time I'll never get back, and those Judge Judy episodes aren't going to watch themselves.