I'm not a great cook. I have a dinnertime repertoire of about four or five dishes, and these I can usually manage not to burn or otherwise destroy. I have a really hard time THINKING of things to cook let alone ACTUALLY COOKING them, so I am proud to tell you that the slow cooker pot roast I tried tonight was a resounding success. The Internet told me I couldn't go wrong with a crockpot, but I hadn't really tested its abilities until tonight when I presented my husband with a steaming platter of meat and potatoes. A few bites later Phillip turned to me and said, "You can make this tomorrow night too." That giant glow you saw out your window at 6:30 p.m. Pacific Time was my thrilled and beaming face.
I know, I know. How NINETEEN FIFTIES of me to take so much pride in making dinner for my husband, but believe me, it's an accomplishment. These days, I'm proud of myself if I can get dinner on the table for all four of us by the time he gets home from work, let alone if it tastes any good. If I can sweep the floors, pick up the toys and clean off the counters too, THAT is a banner day.
When I first became a stay-at-home mom I had no idea what I was supposed to be proud of, or even that there was anything TO be proud of. I was well aware that I was working hard, but other than the syrupy platitudes about a mother's work being the hardest and most meaningful there is, I didn't feel like an especially worthy employee. ANYONE can change a diaper. Four or five months into the SAHM gig I tearfully realized that a mom doesn't get feedback the way a person with a paying job receives direction from bosses and grateful emails from customers. (I'm pretty slow on the uptake.) I realized how much I missed the praise, how much I needed input. And no one was giving me the ultimate worldly display of worth: a paycheck.
It took me a long time (a LONG time) to come to terms with the no-feedback aspect of this job, and I wouldn't say I'm all the way there. It's huge to have a partner who acknowledges what you do, to have family and friends who encourage and uplift you when things are difficult, but no one is going to send you a thank you note for cleaning up the baby barf. Certainly no one is going to pay you. YOU have to figure out what makes a good day and what makes an awesome day and pat your own back. Maybe it sounds pathetic, but one day you realize that an awesome day is when your husband tells his awful cook of a wife that tonight's dinner is something he could eat every single night.
I take pride in getting out of the house, seeing friends, having a good time and making it home before anyone falls asleep in the car. I take pride in playing trains with my son instead of turning on the television. Starting the laundry and FOLDING it, washing the dishes and PUTTING THEM AWAY, paying the bills AND filing the statements -- all things that seem relatively simple before you have children but turn into monstrous tasks when you do. I try not to take too much pride in good behavior -- that rarely has anything to do with me. But when I know my kids had a full and fun day and I'm not wiped out and angry by the time Phillip gets home, that's when I write myself a mental congratulatory email from my imaginary boss: Well done, Maggie! You're obviously an expert in this department! Let's schedule a meeting where you can educate the rest of the staff on how to make their days go as smoothly as yours!
But there's no staff. It's just me. And as much as I desire approval, affirmation and acknowledgment from my husband and family and other mom friends, I know I need to be my biggest cheerleader. I do a good job around here most days, and you BET I'm going to celebrate my pot roast.