DH and I were having a conversation last night about the 'rewards' of parenting and how I've been feeling lately. "Real" jobs give you concrete rewards. Each day you look at your stack of paperwork accomplished, or number of sales made, or whatever measure of success your job uses, and you know how much you did successfully today. You can leave satisfied that you did a great job without anyone telling you or patting you on the back and saying you rock.
Kids don't work that way. Each day you could count the number of diapers changed, (perhaps I should time myself and be proud of my efficiency per diaper change or something?) noses wiped, tantrums ignored or whatever, but what makes you feel like you were a brilliant mom at the end of the day? The husband thinks the fact that my kids are brilliant and generally happy should be enough. I think that on a day to day basis, where at any random time some kids are happy and some are not, I can't take credit for the happy kids and ignore the unhappiness. I can't say that just because A learned a new word today that makes ME a great mom. Maybe she learned it from Elmo? Who knows?
So how, at the end of a day, do I feel brilliant about the job I'm doing? I've had a history of jobs at which I did excellent work and knew daily that I was a success. Mothering? Not so much. Each day I have failures. Failure of discipline, failure of handling a crisis, misunderstanding a kid, yelling too much, almost crying with frustration and so on. How do you overcome all that 'failure' with just saying "oh, well the kids seem happy usually so I must be a fantastic mom?"
Perhaps they were just born happy? Maybe I have unusually brilliant kids genetically? Maybe it's grandma who makes them so happy, not me? Where do I get my daily affirmation that I am doing a great job?
DH just can't fathom this issue. He feels proud just because they are great kids. That's all it took over the 4 days he cared for them. But you know what? He gets to go back to his job where he is brilliant. He doesn't have an endless string of days and months of the same every day crap the kids pull to drag him down from his self esteem of previous days. I used to know I was brilliant at about anything I tried to do. Now? I'm not so sure. Am I a good mom? And if no one tells me that I am, can I believe it about myself somehow? And even if people tell me I am, how do I not discount their opinion due to them not seeing how I parent when I'm alone (when I'm generally more yelly and frustrated)?
I need me some Dr. Phil or something. Someone to tell me that it's as plain as the nose on my face that I rock as a mom. I can't wait 30 years for one of my kids to turn around and say that I did ok. I just can't.