Let's be honest. Often, being a mother is a thankless job. Mom is often the dumping ground for every negative feeling, every complaint and criticism. It can become very easy to believe that nothing you do matters, that your children are unhappy, and that you are failing.
In reality, our kids feel safe with us. They feel safe spilling out all their inner ugly on us, including their disappointment, frustrations and discontentment. They know we will still love them. They hope we will encourage them.
This week, my 14 year-old son returned from a sleepover. He had a good time, but he lounged on our couch that evening and said, "It's good to be home."
Our 19 year-old daughter is home for Spring Break and she wandered out of the girls' shared bedroom a short while later and echoed a similar sentiment. "Usually when I come home, I'm so eager to go back to school, but this time I just want to stay. It's so good to be home and I'm really enjoying just relaxing," she said.
Those words just wrapped a warm hug around my heart. We have an older home. It's a crowded home. We only have one bathroom and everyone shares a room except our high school senior. The shower drips. Our fridge has issues. The young kids make toy messes. We're loud. The house is still sporting 1960s paint and decor, despite us having lived here for 7 years.
I'm accustomed to griping and complaining from the kids on a regular basis about the state of our home, their siblings, the limited satellite internet, or even just the fact that we live in the country and not in town. To hear two of them say "It's good to be home" in the same day was so nice. I was still thinking about it when I got up the next morning.
As I was getting ready for my day, I was thinking about that. As mothers, it is our job to make our home warm and welcoming. No matter how new or how old, we want our home to be filled with love. We want it to be a safe place, a nest for our family. So hearing our kids say "it's good to be home" means we are succeeding.
Sometimes they say that after a long day at school, a vacation, or just a busy day of errands. The extroverts may not say it as often, and they may be ready to leave shortly after they say it, but they still mean it.
Listen for it. Remember it. Remind yourself they said that the next time they start to dump on you about your home, about the lack of "good food", about their annoying siblings, or whatever it is that your kids gripe about.
I know my kids have said it before, but it didn't really sink in until this week. I'll be listening more, and remembering it when the dumping comes. The dumping is just temporary frustrations coming out. It isn't the deep truth that your kids really feel about you and your home. Don't listen to the negative stuff and get discouraged. Listen for the words that show they really do love and appreciate you and your efforts.
Here are a few other words they casually blurt out every now and then that always lift my spirits:
1. I love you, Mom.
2. Thanks, Mom!
3. You look really pretty today, Mom.
4. You're the best, Mom!
5. I told someone what you said once, and they thought I was so smart.
I don't know what words you need to hear. But I'm sure your kids say them sometimes. Just listen and tuck them away for the bad day. Write it down if you need to, so you can't forget. They do appreciate you, they just don't always say it.
Hang in there,