28 August, 2008

Seeking the Silver Lining

It is one of those days following one of those nights.  The kind of night that finds me wanting to crawl into bed at 7 and find a sense of peace in a book or in sleep.  Such nights don't happen often, but when they do, I am left trying to sort through the gray and the mist to find the cloud with the silver lining.  It is there; it is sometimes more difficult to find than others, but it is there all the same. 
One of the challenges I continue to face as a woman and as a parent is appreciation and the lack of recognition. 
Yes, I know, parenting is a thankless job, I have heard the statement time and time again.  To be frank, I don't believe it nor do I find comfort in the words.  Parenting is far from thankless in my opinion.  It is simply that one has to find the recognition and the appreciation and the "thanks" in different places and forms - and often it is from within one's self rather than from an external source. 
It is looking for it from an external source that trips me up from time to time.  It is seeking and wanting and desiring someone to say "Thanks."  It is wanting to hear "I appreciate all you are doing" directly and  indirectly, in those words and in other words, from someone that does not live in my house.  I want my effort to be recognized. 
Now, I am not talking about loads of flowers or expensive tokens of appreciation.  I don't want to see "Thanks" in bright lights on Time Square or written in vapor against a vivid blue background on a sunny day for the world to see.  I am not even talking about my son making the scoring touchdown at the Super bowl and then saying "hi Mom!"  (Though I think that is awesome, always wonder why they don't say dad, and don't have a son anyway...)  I am talking about the little gestures that say  "great job."
Recognition is something that we each probably desire from time to time.  Professionally, employees often state that recognition or a demonstration of appreciation from management increases job satisfaction.  We might seek recognition or appreciation for our physical person "you look great" can make a day especially when we aren't feeling very confident.  perhaps we seek recognition for the person that we are - our thoughts, interests, and our contributions to society.  Or simply for someone to acknowledge us for who we are over what we have or what we do. 
So many reasons to recognize, to appreciate, to acknowledge. 
Despite how few and far between those  nights like last night are, they do happen.  I curl up somewhere deep within my soul and attempt to remember that it is alright, for the moment, to feel sad and to want that external recognition, that appreciation and respect for all that I give and all that I do and all that I am.  Tears don't fall, the Diva rubs my back and sings (The Diva isn't the Diva without a song involved!), and comforts. 
For the moment, I can live in that world and then I have to start finding the cloud with the silver lining.  I have to look for the recognition and the appreciation from within me.  I have to appreciate the job I am doing, the little things I have done, the path I have chosen, and acknowledge myself. 
parenting is not a thankless job.  It is a job that is filled with little thank you's and notes of recognition and appreciation.  There are rough patches, there are bright days, and through it all, there is lots of love.  I don't need someone from the outside to tell me what a great job I am doing - I can look at my daughter, see the compassionate loving life kid she is and I can see living proof that I am doing okay.  Moreover, I feel my heart swell and the smile spread across my face and realize that the choices, the time given... it is all worth it to share this life; to share these moments.   


teahouse said...

Lovely post! I am not a parent yet, but someday I'm sure I'll understand very close to what you're feeling right now.

Anonymous said...

Amazing post -- Very moving. You've done a great job putting into words what so many of us, single parents especially, feel so often.

T said...

My goodness, that is beautiful.

I've always said that parenting pays big rewards but its not dollars that we get in return - its happy, healthy children with giggles and smiles on their faces.

I also go through phases like you mentioned. I think I'm in one right now. I don't feel that I want to reach out to anyone and say, "Appreciate me!" Instead I do what you mentioned. I will pull out a book or be alone with a good cry or sappy movie. I try to meditate and find my center again. Be fully present in this moment.

So, hang in there. You know you're not the only one who feels this way.

Mike said...

I think people who think its a thankless job want some validation from others. Like most things in life we have to validate the job we do ourselves.

justrun said...

My mom, no kidding, just the other day told my sister and I that seeing us grown and happy and successful in what we do finally feels like the 'Thank You' she always wanted as a young parent.

dadshouse said...

You're an awesome mom and a great blogging buddy! And you're right, the parenting thank yous come from within. I just focus on feeling good about the things I do for my kids. Hold onto that good feeling, and really feel it deeply, and it's all the recognition you need.

cathouse teri said...

All I've got is a bunch of silver with cloudy linings. :)

What you said here, summed it up:

"It is simply that one has to find the recognition and the appreciation and the 'thanks' in different places and forms - and often it is from within one's self rather than from an external source."

Parenting isn't the only job that is called "thankless." Just plain being human is a hard battle to fight. But in the end, no matter who you are and where you're from, the reward does have to come from one's own self. Since, no matter where you go, there you are. ;)

But yes, we still have those nights. No way to avoid them. And it's nice when you are not alone when you have them. Usually you are.

The Exception said...

Teahouse - I think that we all desire recognition from time to time... whether we are parents or not. Just remember, when you feel that way, look within!

A Bright Ruture - Thanks. It was hard to figure out how to capture what I was feeling.

T - Those smiling faces, that child that straightens her shoulders and walks away with confidence, the bedtime stories that are read to us, the child that comforts a friend or gives for the joy of it...all things that remind me that I am doing okay.

It is worth it, even when it is hard... it is worth it!

Mike - Sometimes the hardest thing is remembering that it comes from within because it would feel so nice to hear another say it - to hear that recognition.

JR - Your mom is so right and sounds so very awesome. Tell her she did a great job... from a strange mom out here. I love hearing about her.

DH - Holding on to the good times is easy - the hard part is finding those thoughts in the midst of the gray clouds! You are a good blogging buddy too and seem to be a great dad!

Teri - It isn't about being a parent but being human. And it is hard now and again... it is, perhaps that much easier knowing that there are others that go through it too!

Jeni said...

If anyone is crazy enough to tackle parenting because they envision medals, bright lights, all kinds of visible rewards and accolades handed to them, they've just definitely chosen the wrong track in life! Ain't gonna happen that way!
You do get rewards but they are subtle ones -the pleasure you get in watching your child learn as the first step is taken, the first words spoken, interactions made between other children and from there, learning all kinds of things every single day. And the knowledge a parent gains too from watching the child learn -how they advance from one stage to the next and have the parent floundering about a bit at times, trying to gain a foothold to keep pace, to adjust strategies -especially when you have more than one child because what worked with one may -or may not -work with the next or others, so you revamp -and learn and realize you learned a little more. For that, you give yourself a pat on the back and forge ahead -again and again! The real rewards of parenting -to me -come about much later when one becomes a grandparent though! Absolutely nothing in the world as grand! Hmmm. Wonder if that is how we became known as "Grandparent.?"

Have the T-Shirt said...

Well, I think you've captured the essence of parenthood. The thanks we get shines out of our children's eyes.

Parenting is difficult, single parenting, even more so. And it can be lonely work and overwhelming at times. We have to do it ALL. That is a huge responsibility.

And yet, there are rewards in spades. You can't look to your child to thank you, that just doesn't happen often enough, in equal measure to your efforts.

I guess every time I have seen one of my children being sucessful, or overcoming difficulties, that is my thanks. Thanks for preparing them, through all my hard work, to shine.

And of course, now that my children are older, I get a lot more appreciation from them for all I've done. They know the sacrifices, they understand how much effort it took and I hear thanks a lot.

But I remember those dark days well, when you just want someone to acknowledge it, you long for a pat on the back. I can guarantee you those tangible signs of appreciation will come from Diva when she is older, and you have to know that there are people all around you, everyday, who are amazed by what you do, they just don't realize how nice it would be to hear them say it.