Is motherhood really a "thankless" job?

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Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4103
Is motherhood really a "thankless" job?

Or do some mothers *make* it a thankless job?

I've had this discussion a lot recently and it seems that I'm the only one who doesn't think it is. Granted, with kids under about age three, there isn't a lot of helpfulness or gratitude. (And actually, I believe the milky toothless smile after nursing is a baby's way of saying thanks, and when our kids raised their legs for a diaper change, we praised them for being helpful.) I think you do your kids (and spouse) a disservice if you do everything for them, and especially if you don't insist on the simple respect of a "thank you," in return. By about the age of three, illnesses and disabilities aside, I say if you think motherhood is truly a thankless job, then you're probably doing too much that others should be doing themselves and/or not putting some reasonable things in place to make your life a bit easier.

The moms who seem to be saying this the most are the ones who IMHO make their own trouble, those who make two separate meals every night because their kids are "too picky," or who don't have their kids do chores or pick up toys because it's easier/faster/done better yourself, or who leave the TV remote where the kids can reach it in the mornings even when they know it causes trouble getting ready for school. Moms who complain about their kids locking the bedroom door but who don't remove the lock. Moms who don't make their kids say, "thank you," when served a snack or given help with homework. Moms who schedule their kids with two piano lessons, two Spanish classes, swimming lessons, kung fu lessons, art class, and soccer, every week, and then ***** about having no family time. Moms who take a forgotten lunch box to school for the third time in one week. Moms who, when doing laundry, check every pocket for crayons & tissues, turn all the socks right side out, turn the sparkly things inside out, and do it all again week after week after week, apparently never once thinking to NOT do that child's laundry if it hasn't been properly prepared. These moms have all said something along the lines of, "Well, I'm the mom, that's just what moms do. It's a thankless job." I guess if I was one of those moms, I'd think it was a thankless job, too.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3189

Thankless? No. I have my moments when I feel like I'm doing everything for everybody and nobody really appreciates it, but those are few and far between -- VERY few and far between. My kids thank me, they hug me, they tell me they love me, and most important, they are happy. I don't think it has anything to do with scheduling or doing "too much" for your kids, I think it's just the attitude.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

I think it's a pretty sweet job, most of the time. We insist on pleases and thank yous, and give them out in return, so T's pretty polite on that point. I also insist that T clean his own room when I ask, put his clothes straight in the hamper when he takes them off, pick up and put away any toys that he brings out of his room, take his dishes into the kitchen when he's done with them, et cetera. I often have to remind him, but I will say that he is good about doing it once reminded. So yeah, I can see that if parents didn't insist on things like that, it would get pretty old pretty fast. Lucky for me, I have the "I'm not your maid!" gene in abundance, so I'm not likely to suffer on in silence while either my child or my husband leaves things around for me to pick up. Wink

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116

It depends on the day. Sometimes my 7 year old tells me I am the best Mom in the whole world, and the next day when he is in trouble for something I am the worst Mom in the world. Smile

The best reward though is when your sons get to be 22 and 25 and are responsible well adjusted adults that thank you for being their mother. I love being a Mom.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

I think that some people just like to complain about everything. If I thought it was thankless I surely would not have had three kids! I love this "job" (I always cringe though when people call it a job), I've wanted to be a Mom my entire life and I found my perfect partner for me to enter this journey with, which I think is a huge part of the equation. I do agree with Laurie though ~ I don't think that there is just one way to be happy ~ some families love to be in a thousand activities, some moms really enjoy housework etc and they are still happy. For us the activity thing is kept to one sport or activity/season/kid as I refuse to spend my life in the car, but I admit to enjoying housework/laundry etc, so to each their own in that regard.

ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538

I think it can have a lot to do with your partner. I assume with a working mom it would have to do with how things are shared out. In our house DH works outside the home, and so I think of the home 'stuff' as my responsibility. But he is never upset if I dont get things done and when I get upset about it, he always tells me that my 'job' is to take care of the kids, and I do a great job at that, and we can get the other stuff done on his days off if we need to, or he will bring home dinner, or whatever. He regularly tells me that I am a great mother though and that he is grateful for all I do for our kids and family, as he is not around nearly as much to do the actual nitty gritty 'child raising'.

fuchsiasky's picture
Joined: 11/16/07
Posts: 955

Sometimes it is. I certainly feel like it is thankless these days as my teenagers refuse to help me to do anything with packing up for our move. They seem to see me as their personal slave. It is disgusting and hurtful. I am working my butt off and they sit and watch me. The only way they help is if I cut off their internet. Smile

But...I don't feel like it is thankless the rest of the time. The love and support I get from Rob and DD is awesome. DD tells me how I am a wonderful mummy and she loves me and is happy to have me. Rob too. He appreciates all the time, energy, effort and love that I contribute to our family. Just like I appreciate how he puts in the same.

Really the smile on DD's face when she seems me is a huge thank you! The joy that she has in her life and our family makes me so thankful to be able to be a mom. And I know that someday the teenagers will realize that they were unappreciative...maybe when they have teenagers of their own! lol.

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1537

I guess the question I have for mom that do think it is thankless, is what kind of thanks do you want? Are you looking for a parade, expressing your superior parenting? Because you probably are not going to get that. I find little "thanks" in things everyday.

And I agree with Melis that people are going to find something to complain about, even if things are pretty great in thier lives, if that is their personality. I have chosen to spend way less time with a couple of friends because all they did was complain about life. I just couldnt take it, I love parenting (even on the hard days, which are more frequent now that I have a teen) and would not trade it for the world.