On feeling unappreciated and what to do about it.
Last night our 12 year old daughter was sitting up with us, waiting for her bedtime.
"Is this, like, what you do at night?" she said. "Don't you do anything interesting?"
My feelings were hurt immediately. Doesn't she realise that I have spent the day doing her washing, cleaning and cooking? I thought. Does she think I really enjoy spending my energy taking her to the dentist? Can't she understand that, having met everyone else's needs all day long, I might just need to sit on the couch and "do nothing"? Doesn't she understand the sacrifices that I have made for her?
In the cold light of day, of course I know that the answer is no to all of the questions I asked myself. She doesn't know, and she can't possibly understand until she is either 25 years old or a mother herself.
Besides, I remember having the same feelings myself. I wondered what my mother did all day while I was at school and I distinctly remember thinking at age 16, I am never going to be boring like my parents.
Perhaps I am a little bit boring now. Perhaps it is good to be challenged to not sit in a rut and do the same old things day after day. However, I also need to remember that I still have a two-year-old, and a son with high anxiety and other challenges, and that I actually do need to rest at night otherwise I become a horror mother during the day. Perhaps we parents are not boring, we are just tired.
It was a good opportunity to take my own advice. This week I gave a parenting talk in which I said that when we feel upset or angry, it is probably because a need is not being met deep inside. I had to ask myself, "what do I need here?" The answer was appreciation and validation and acknowledgement that my sacrifices that I have chosen to make for my children have not been in vain. I also need to be seen as a real person and not dismissed as a boring caricature.
In my talk, I argued that our children will never meet those needs. It would be easy enough to play the guilt card and make my daughter feel bad about what she said, but I would prefer to have appreciation and thanks that comes freely from her heart one day when she understands. (It might be useful to have a word with her, however, about not criticising other people's activities…)
So, where can I get my need for appreciation met? I am finding that in the end, only God is able to meet my needs. He reminds me of his love and compassion and respect and enjoyment for me in the Bible. When I ask the question, "what do I need?" I have not had an instance yet in which I find that God can't meet the need.
I am continually finding that, having asked the question and having had my need met, I am so much better placed to deal with the problem or the issue at hand. This process has helped me get rid of anger and bitterness that before, I would have been fighting for days.