We just spent a wonderful weekend celebrating the Middle Child of the holidays, Thanksgiving.
I have much more to be thankful for than I deserve — my family, my kids, a husband who works his butt off every. single. day. to provide for our family, to keep our Dane in kibble and our kids in diapers, and takes care of all three when I get struck down by the plague for the remainder of the holiday weekend.
Mostly, I’m thankful for my entirely thankless job. (Can I say thankless in the wake of Thanksgiving weekend?) Well I’m going to. I don’t mean the kind of thankless that up-all-night-newborn feedings feel until all of a sudden one day that baby smiles at you. I’m talking about alllll of the behind-the-scenes orchestrating that is either unnoticed or just goes unacknowledged.
The juggling of activities — which kids activities’ are cancelled for the week due to the holiday and which ones are still on, who needs to bring a flashlight to school on Friday and who has a make-up swim lesson on the third Wednesday of every-other-month ending with -ember. Who has one more night’s worth of diapers before we’ll need more and whose white tights absolutely must be washed and folded by Sunday night so they’re ready for ballet on Monday afternoon.
You know, those things … the things that make it impossible to sit down in front of the TV at night without a whopping basket of laundry to fold, or that make it hard to get past 8 p.m. without falling asleep (or past 3 a.m. without waking up) due to the constant mental gymnastics that takes up every ounce of brainpower you have leftover.
I give you this morning, for example.
There’s my car.
To some, this might look like one huge mess. Probably to my husband it looks like a day and a half of hard-earned money out the minivan window. To Alex it apparently looked like one big graham cracker, as that’s what he kept screaming the whole ride.
But to me it looks like every last second of the 2.5 hours between school drop-off and pick-up. It looks like final preparations for two holiday gatherings this weekend, like meals for my family for the next week, like final Christmas and birthday gifts procured, like two class snacks and one batch of homemade Playdough that we somehow ended up responsible for all in on week … like the culmination of an hours worth of menu planning and three different shopping lists — made first on my phone and then categorized and written out by store and section so I don’t have to run all the way back across Piggly Wiggly because I forgot the lettuce while I was in the produce section or the bacon while I was in the meat section. (Both of which happened anyways.)
Will my kids notice any of this and/or thank me for it? Nope. If I’m lucky, I might get a “Thank you for getting me Nutella, Mommy!” out of Evelyn, because she’s amazing and sometimes remembers to say things like that. More likely, though, the food will be consumed (or untouched by picky eaters and eventually thrown away to the sound of whining about going to bed hungry.) If I accomplish nothing else as a mother, they will notice and appreciate these efforts by the time they’re old enough to see past snack time.
Judging by the number of other Moms (and one Dad) I saw out doing the same thing today, I know I’m not alone in this.
So, just in case your kids didn’t recite the following list of “thank-you’s” over the Thanksgiving weekend, I’m writing this for you, because I see you behind the scenes and I know your household just wouldn’t run if you weren’t out running all morning. And I think you’re amazing.
Thank you for skipping your shower this morning so you could meal plan and write out your errand list for the day, even if it meant you showed up to Costco in the same thing you’re wearing in your Costco Card picture, which also happens to be the same grubby hat and sweatshirt you wear four times a week and have come to think of as your “shower-skip-day-uniform.” (Who, me?)
Thank you for risking E. Coli, Salmonella and Listeria to dig through the slimy packages of Chuck Roast so you could find the English Cut that’s on sale. All to make a delicious, nutritious pot roast for dinner that will be dubbed “too spicy” or “too mushy” or “too brown” and immediately shunned along with the vegetables you’ll roast in a way that according to Pinterest “toddlers will love”.
Thank you for waiting at the deli counter so that the lunchmeat can be sliced just so, even though the deli counter always seems to take up approximately 45 of the 50 minutes you have to shop.
Thank you for remembering the frozen waffles, even if it meant forgetting the bottle of Tums that has been on (and been forgotten from) your last 3 lists, for the heartburn that wakes you up five times a night thanks due to the child you’re growing that will also probably forget to thank you for all of this.
Thank you for keeping a running tally of the milk, diaper and applesauce supply so we are never, ever, ever out.
Thank you for schlepping your nuggets along on these errands when you’d so much rather be at home playing with them and/or working on noodle stringing and the other fine motor activities your Pediatrician keeps sending you worksheets on with notes like “I’m not concerned YET, but…” (Who, Alex?)
I’m counting playing with a straw and a water cup as a fine-motor-activity on the go.
Thank you for going to three different stores so you can get each thing that you need at the best possible value, so you can (in theory) have money leftover for date nights and soccer camp.
Thank you for hauling a** across town just to get five minutes at home to hide the presents and get the perishables in the fridge before running back across town for school pickup.
Thank you for not killing the driver of the Medivan that pulled out right in front of you a minute into this race home, who then not only anticipated your route home but drove 10 under the speed limit for the entirety of it. I see you staying out of jail this holiday season, and on behalf of your family, I appreciate it.
Thank you for throwing out your back loading and unloading this bounty in and out of three different shopping carts, one car and one fridge.
Thank you for the delicious meals that you will make from all of this, even knowing the mess that they will result in.
Thank you for getting down on the floor and cleaning up those messes three times a day, when the dog is so picky that she will lick up half of what falls but leave the rest for you and the dustpan, because while she loves eggs, she’s above eating eggs that have been reduced to a certain size. (Who, Pippa?)
Thank you for doing this day in and day out, regardless of if you’re perfectly healthy or feeling like death warmed over, if you’re at your physical prime or are in the midst of having both ribs and pelvis painfully separated by a 7 lb. baby, if you’ve gotten 10 hours of sleep or 10 minutes.
I could go on. And on. And on. But my point is – to anyone who is feeling like their job as a parent is particularly thankless on this (week after) Thanksgiving, I see you. Even if your kids don’t yet. And hopefully someday those kids will grow up, and some random Wednesday they’ll be doing exactly what you’re doing now, and then they’ll get it. And then they’ll send you flowers, and a gift certificate for a 90-minute Swedish massage followed by a manicure for those hands that have worked so tirelessly for them. Or at least they’ll just call and say thanks.
Mom, you’re my hero.