Do you ever long for someone in your household to recognize something you’ve done – anything – and say thank you for it? It doesn’t feel too promising that this will happen anytime soon if we have little ones at home, and sometimes what we do is not always evident to our partners either.
I know that none of us have chosen the title “Mom” expecting to be thanked, but it would be so nice to hear it from time to time!
For me, words of affirmation are a huge way that I feel loved and cared for. One of the toughest parts of full-time motherhood has been my work environment. When I do something nice for one of my kids it rarely gets acknowledged and usually sets off a temper tantrum instead. Example: I thoughtfully set the table with plates of food which I’d lovingly prepared for my kids – sometimes I even make funny faces on their plates with the food because I love them that much and want to make them smile. They sit at the table and the two-year old melts down because he wanted a cup without a lid and there are raisins on his plate. RAISINS! (Never mind that they were his favorite food yesterday) I’m definitely not going to receive a thanks for this meal, and on the contrary, I get to perform damage control on the emotional volcano which continues to explode at the kitchen table.
It’s tough. A well-placed “thank you” would go so far these days in this weary heart of mine!
A few weeks ago I was fed up and feeling frustrated and hurt that nobody was saying “thank you.” I decided to try something new and see what would happen. That evening at the dinner table, I suggested we each say a thank you to every person around the table. My first grader was NOT impressed. She didn’t want to do this and only begrudgingly did so. We had to prompt the two-year old by making some suggestions for him, then letting him decide which of the suggestions would be his thank you. It was rough, but we persisted and did it again the next day. And then the next day. After just a few days of making this our routine, I started noticing changes in each of us.
My first grader began to LOVE this portion of our day. I saw her posture and facial expressions transform each night as each person around the table said thank you to her for something. She was proud of herself and felt loved! She also got so into it that when we forgot to do it one night, she was the one who reminded me!
One night, my two-year old listened to some suggestions for things to thank his daddy for, but then came up with an original one all on his own! He started to get it, and it was beautiful to see.
My husband now takes a little more time to reflect on what my day may have been like and all the things I do for the family and the house each day. I feel like we are more connected because of this time. Also, he works outside of the home all day, and comes home just in time to see the kids in their most volatile state. Sometimes the hours he has with the kids in the late afternoon/evening can be rough, and I think it means a lot to him to have the kids say thank you for all that he does for them and for our family.
As I expected, I’ve felt very cared for as each family member shares something with me that they appreciate – something I did or said or a way I was there for them. While this has been special for my heart to hear, honestly what I value most is watching this time unfold at our dinner table each night. It’s incredibly rewarding to see my family appreciating each other.