to the mom who just wants to feel appreciated

Don’t you care?

Those were the words I said to my boys sitting at the kitchen table this afternoon.

My awesome boys, who were just kids, who happened to leave some popsicle wrappers out and a popsicle melted and the kitchen that was clean 90 minutes prior now looked like it needed to be on HGTV’s most difficult decluttering show. I’m not joking. it was less than two hours. I think they have a secret skill, in fact.

But I took it so personally. Because I felt like that was them telling me, in a way, they didn’t care about the work or that I like the kitchen clean or all of that. I took that as not being appreciated.

Motherhood and work oftentimes is the most under appreciated feeling job ever.

You know what I mean. And if you don’t yet, oh my please share the secrets, because I think from the get go motherhood is an incredible amount of giving with very little recognition of the weariness and bravery that we have inside.

No one sees us standing in the bathroom scrubbing toilets or trying to get permanent marker off the wall or negotiating with bill collectors on the phone or clipping coupons and trying to tame the three year old while we walk through Target. No one sees us weary at night but awake still working. No one sees all those behind the scenes stuff we do for our kids. Last week I slept in an airport on my way to Nashville for a business trip. It was, well, like sleeping in an airport. But I do it for them. And in case you are wondering, I’m the one with the crazy hair on top of her head.


You have those hidden things too.

You have those moments where you give and give and give because you love those kids that call you mom. The kids that slam doors or tell you that you’re the worst or that you don’t understand or who don’t like dinner and you just well, you just are trying.

Sometimes that feeling of just wanting to be appreciated makes tears well in the corner of my eyes. It’s that kind of feeling where I want the instant replay of motherhood to take over and the voice over of Did you see that? Your mother made dinner with three items, made it on time, rescued the laundry from the washer before she needed to run it again, entertained the toddler, answered the phone and you all made it to soccer on time!

But, well, there’s none of that. That’s just kind of expected of us, right?

This weekend I gave and gave and worked and worked and yet sometimes it simply didn’t feel like enough. Somehow I want to tell them to recognize that when I work hard – like go watch the replay of your mom getting up at 3:37am to catch a plane so she can work so she can put those fruit snacks in the cupboard where you pick out the grape ones. But no, it’s just there.  Or I war to tell them again that all those $1.99 Amazon Kindle downloads add up. So do frappuccinos at Starbucks or marker stains or all of that.

I want them to see the hours I give and how I clean the kitchen and make dinner and fold their clothes. I especially want them to recognize that when they pull all the clothes out of the drawer. I think that might be a universal of motherhood – laundry angst.

Kids don’t see it. Others don’t see it either.


They see that there is a new download for Minecraft or that they don’t like pecans in their chicken salad wraps or that they’re bored or it is too hot to play outside. They see a drawer of clothes but are instead looking for their favorite shirt and really don’t care that you did the above awesome folding method. They see dinner, and honestly what kid likes chicken salad? So instead of thanks they tell you they don’t like it.

I think I’ve learned to not take it personally.

I’m the mom.

Not the one to make sure that every single second of their life is perfect.

Again, I’m the mom. I’m the one telling them to clean their room and pick up the popsicle wrappers that they left on the table and then telling them that tomorrow they can’t have popsicles. I’m like the bad guy. Limiting media time or making them bring their dishes to the sink and load them in the dishwasher. I make them make their beds and answer politely and tell them no more downloads.

I love them.

Having them tell me thank you isn’t part of the description in our motherhood handbook.

I wish it was.

I wish it was for you too.

(And yes, really enjoy the moments when they do.)


Because so often motherhood can feel like the most giving giving giving giving loneliest adventure that we’re stuck in ever. And it’s worse too if there isn’t someone in your life telling you that what you’re doing is awesome. Even if it is quartering grapes and wiping the rim of the sink or tying shoes into double knots.

So listen. I’ll tell you.

I appreciate all you do.

I really do.

Because when you have those days or weeks or months where you feel most unappreciated you kind of just need someone to speak truth to you. Truth about how when you work hard for your kids it matters. Truth about how making meal after meal after meal matters. Truth about how rocking babies matters. Truth about how waiting up for teens matters. Truth about talking with doctors and teachers and parents matters. Truth about how you, you matter.

Motherhood is hard.

It’s such a giving of self thing in life that we are told to suck up and just do. And we do it. We don’t stop.

Keep doing. Keep loving. Keep cutting peanut butter and jelly sandwiches into triangles. Keep fighting. Keep rocking. Keep picking up popsicle wrappers. Keep reading books. Keep on keeping on.

Just know it all matters.

Even in the weary what on earth am I doing? unappreciated feeling stages of life.

I know. I’ve had that for the last couple of days. I’ve wanted to throw my hands in the air and say do you see me? Do you appreciate me? Do you?

But you know what?

I don’t need that. Because for a moment tonight as I stood cutting those grapes for that chicken salad that I loved and only one of my kids did I realized that being and doing and giving mattered most.

And I became proud of me.

For pressing forward. For loving those kids. For giving.

So sweet mom walking the journey with me – be proud of you.

I’m not joking. Be proud of you. For all that you do day in and day out and day in again. Be proud. Hold your head high, eat you chicken salad that no one else likes and be proud.

You may not hear thanks or any of that for a long time. So tonight it’s coming from me.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

I am proud of you too.


ps. and if you want a popsicle in this house, well, tomorrow is not a no popsicle day.

29 Responses to “to the mom who just wants to feel appreciated”

  1. July 22, 2015

    Joan Reply

    Wow, this is how I feel each and every day…unappreciated. I feel so childish/selfish for even feeling this way, but I just do. Thanks for helping me to see that I’m not all alone trying to be mom, maid, cook, family accountant, party planner, etc. and still feeling unappreciated. It’s okay because there are days that always make up for it.

    • August 7, 2015

      Andy Reply

      Are you married or single mother? Great post

  2. July 22, 2015

    Roslyn Slocum Reply

    Just started reading your post and love them. Having one of those weeks feeling like all I’m doing is not enough and yet there is so much on my mind and heart for my kids. Crazy even that tonight I made chicken salad for dinner. One out of three kids ate it, and my husband wanted to join the non eaters. Keep on with the chicken salad and keep on encouraging.

  3. July 22, 2015

    Debbie Reply

    Thank you for this post! I frequently feel under appreciated at home and at my job and I haven’t been dealing with it well. I love your attitutude and perspective and reading your posts always encourage me when I feel like I’m overwhelmed and failing. The problem I have though is trying to figure out how to be happy when I constantly feel under appreciated, overwhelmed, exhausted and like I’m failing as a mother. My attitude has been so negative and I just want to give up. Your posts always rejuvenate me and give me hope but then I fall back into my slump. Any advice???

  4. This is wonderful. Because my kids are somewhat grown, I am looking back and wondering “What would I have done differently that would have better prepared my kids for real life?” I have decided that I was too accommodating. We should have begun chores early in life, where they realized that Mom could not do it all and that everyone in the family needs to pitch in for the household to function and things do not have to be done perfectly – it’s more important for the kids to develop life skills than for the house to look company-ready most of the time. But since I can’t turn back the clock, I’m more or less throwing them into the deep end and letting them figure it out. As for the chicken salad, the simpler the better for little ones. No grapes or nuts, and they might actually try it! 😉

  5. July 22, 2015

    Amy Reply

    thank you so much for this really needed it ! Tears flowing, gratitude for mothers who look with a knowing eye feeling your struggle and letting you know you aren’t alone. It is not in vain.

  6. July 22, 2015

    Kathy Reply

    Thank you for being you!!!

  7. July 23, 2015

    Jenn Reply

    I know this feeling all too well. I raised 3 children as a single mom for most of it…and now a bonus mom to a 10 and 22 year old. Try doing all we do, and then at the end of the long busy tiring day, you hear “you’re not my mom!” because one of them doesn’t want to go to bed at bedtime. Bonus-parenting is NOT for the weak! Talk about feeling underappreciated…at least with my biological children, I got an “I love you, mommy” which was all I needed to keep me going. ::sigh::

  8. July 23, 2015

    Jane Reply

    For so long the lack of appreciation really got to me more than anything! Until I started reading your blog! I think it’s been a few years now, and I’ve learned a great deal from your thoughts including how to appreciate myself! The really weird part-once I started appreciating how awesome I am, I noticed others did too. It’s still a battle, to keep remembering I’m doing the best I can and it makes a difference. But, reading these posts are all the inspiration I need. Thank you so much!!!

  9. July 23, 2015

    char Reply

    I just found your post …they have really resonated with me. Just nice to know that I am not the only one feeling this way at times….Thank you so much !!

  10. July 23, 2015

    darcell b Reply

    thank you. i really feel like no one sees everything i do on a daily basis. love your postings. they say exactly how i feel also.

  11. July 24, 2015

    Sherrie Reply

    Thank you.

  12. July 24, 2015

    Stephanie Reply

    The clothes are still on the futon, and probably will still be there and will need to be removed to take photos once we commit to selling it.

    The kitchen island is still cluttered even though I vowed to get the projects all put away from last school year before school starts again in less than two weeks.

    I’ve had a filing box for so long that when I do go through it, it’s actually time to just shred a lot of it anyway.

    Sometimes I feel like I will only be appreciated when I get caught up. Thanks for the reminder that that’s not true. I may celebrate with an ice cream drumstick that, oops!, nobody in the house likes but me.

  13. July 27, 2015

    Erika Reply

    Thank you! On days I feel lonely, and the kids are home, since it is summer, but oh so often – since we are homeschoolers…I gently hand them a snack, and say, “Thank you Mom, and say grace!” They get it deep down, but it does feel lonely and unappreciated for a least a few hours of the day. My way of coping, say a prayer, find some encouragement somewhere else… and Yes, get out of the house!

  14. July 27, 2015

    Andrea Reply

    Ty again. Exactly what I needed to hear tonight!

  15. July 28, 2015

    Whitney Reply

    Thank you. How can I not say thank you?? All this is exactly how I’ve felt lately and it’s all been building up and I’ve become this terrible mom always frustrated because…well I don’t feel appreciated and it’s nonstop work, especially when trying to run my own business from home. Often times though it feels like it’s just me. It’s nice to read this post and feel understood. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  16. July 28, 2015

    Alison Reply

    Thank you so much! I really needed to hear that!

  17. July 31, 2015

    Rachel Reply

    Great article. It reminds me of “The Invisible Woman” by Nicole Johnson. It’s a 5 minute dramatic monolog that will bless your soul if you’re dealing with this feeling. Check it out on YouTube. It’s totally worth your time.

  18. August 14, 2015

    Mary Reply

    Thank you. You sparked a cord with me. My husband and I often worry about raising a family that “expects” things. We have started practicing deliberate gratitude. We know we are the role-models who will show our children what to value and exude. I want them to exude gratitude (to all…and it does help when it is to me 🙂

    I try more intentionally now to appreciate my husband, or my neighbor, my kids specifically, my parents and in-laws, etc. to show them that gratitude is something we need to express. Give it a shot…express more gratitude outwardly – say “Thank you”, just like you’ve done here more often and more intentionally in front of your children. Consider having them focus on three things that made them happy, or three things they appreciated about today as they are going to bed. Help them (and yourself) sort for the good and express it. It feels good 🙂

    This was my first read on your blog – have to say, I LOVE the name “finding joy”…it is a journey and we have to be deliberate and role-model it.
    All the best,

  19. September 18, 2015

    Khan Reply

    Thank you for this. I felt quite silly crying like a baby when I came to the point where you wrote, listen I appreciate all you do, but the past few weeks have been tough for no reason in particular and I needed this. So, thank you!

  20. September 27, 2015

    Anneri Reply

    Thank you for sending this love out into the world. It is much needed. As a virtual single mom, I am married again after a divorce, but I still feel like I am raising my kid alone, it is tough to do this. When all we feel is exhausted, we have to lift ourselves up too 🙂 thanks for giving us much needed encouragement!

  21. September 29, 2015

    Kim Reply

    Motherhood is a labor of love. It is the hardest thing I will ever do.

  22. February 1, 2016

    Alex Reply

    This gets at the core of what the parable of the Prodigal Son is all about – you get no credit for doing what you are supposed to do. We do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. You clean bathrooms and kitchens because bathrooms and kitchens need to be cleaned, and like it or not, you are the grown-up responsible for other people who are too young to be responsible for themselves. Often our mothers and television have handed us scripts about what a “good mother” is, and we don’t challenge the validity those scripts. So we choose a course of action that is our choice, and add complexity to our days, that are our choices.

    It doesn’t make you a bad mom if you make your sons come in from playing and make them clean up after themselves, or not allow them to head out the door until until they pick up after themselves. One of the hardest things to teach as a parent is awareness of your surroundings. It’s not unreasonable to teach a child to stop, check their surroundings and making sure they are leaving things as they found them.

  23. February 1, 2016

    Andrea Reply

    I started asking my kids for 3 things they are grateful for each night during dinner… Mr 5 will mostly say he’s grateful for candy or lollipops, but miss 7 often says she’s grateful for her family, and grateful for dinner, for family time etc. It has been really lovely to hear and to share with them things I’m grateful for – like when they pick up
    their toys or do good listening. It gives me a glimmer of hope that all the hard work will be worth it in the end. X

  24. December 2, 2016

    Kim Reply

    I almost have to giggle because this is so true. The next time I hear “Mom, WHAT do you do?” or “Mom, you have it so easy… don’t even have a job” , (by choice so I could stay home and raise them, mind you) I may have to let them read this 🙂

  25. August 8, 2017

    Cathy Reply

    Thank you so very much, I needed to hear this today. It lifted me up.
    Thank you!

  26. I just wanted to say thank you. I hope you realise what a difference this post makes in peoples lives. It really means a lot. Thank you

  27. April 25, 2019

    Michelle Wilbert Reply

    As a midwife and mother of four, now young adult, children, I have a lot to say about this, probably not along the usual lines: While the encouragement offered is heartfelt and so needed, the problem is, indeed, that it IS needed. Why do women say that they “don’t expect” gratitude? Why do women accept the idea that “this is how it is” and “mothering is a labor of love” and a “sacrifice…but we do it because we love them.” Where is the acceptance and embrace of radical self-care and self-respect for mothers in their work? The fact is, mothers are looking outwards, hoping that others: their husbands, kids, friends and the larger culture, will validate them and appreciate their nurturing work. The real problem is that the women themselves have so internalized the culture that they don’t appreciate their work; they don’t view it as worthy of gratitude and hence, they don’t expect it. We can’t get from others what we don’t give to ourselves. If you aren’t practicing self-care–carving out real time and space to fill your own well, you are conveying to those around you that you do not have valid, irreducible needs that you are going to fill–not “if” you have time; not “later” but now, today. Even if all you do is take 15 minutes for a walk outdoors, a long bath or a talk with a friend, you are guiding yourself–and ultimately others–towards valuing yourself and your work in the world; the work you do at home, and the work you do outside the home, if applicable. You are valuing your own personhood. And don’t “Do it for your kids” or “Just think of the positive modeling for your children about respecting themselves” and all the rest of the “other” reasons most women will need to add into the mix in order to feel o.k. about self-care. Do it for yourself; full stop. Do it out of respect for yourself and your own one, “wild and precious life” to quote poet, Mary Oliver.
    Our kids grow up and move on with their lives. Our marriages sometimes don’t last. The one person that must always be there for you, IS you.
    Be your own best friend.

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