26th March 2016

Nobody ever patted me on the back and told me I was doing a good job

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 21.01.18I went away with some friends this weekend.

Without the husband.

And most importantly, without the kids.

I’m a true believer that we need a bit of time to ourselves as mothers. Time to remember who we were before little people came into our lives. Time to sleep. Time to enjoy adult conversation. Time to raid a breakfast buffet without having to carry three plates back to the table with a child attached to our legs.

And I enjoyed every second.

But I missed my three boys – and getting regular messages and pictures about what they were up to during my absence was one of the highlights of my trip (which is probably a bit sad to admit).

At about 4pm, my phone pinged.

I was lying in my hotel bed at the time, enjoying a guilt-free afternoon nap after a morning by the pool and trip into Abu Dhabi for lunch.

It was a message from my husband, with a picture of the boys in a play area near to our home in Dubai Marina. They were having fun and looked very happy.

His message read: “A stranger just came up to me, patted me on the back, and told me I was doing a good job!”

I smiled – as it was nice of her to acknowledge what a good job he was doing with the boys on his own at the weekend. I’m glad it wasn’t all going unnoticed.

But very quickly afterwards, a thought popped into my head.

When was the last time a stranger told me I was doing a good job when I was with the boys?

I don’t think it’s ever happened.

And let’s be honest; there’s been plenty of opportunity, given I’m with them on my own every single day and our oldest is nearly 4 years old.

It got me thinking about how little mothers are appreciated. We are doing one of the hardest jobs in the world (if not the hardest – although I admit brain surgeons and bomb disposal experts might not agree) and yet our efforts are so easily taken for granted. After all, we decided to have children – so why should we get any praise for raising them?

But there have been plenty of times when I would have appreciated it.

All those times I struggled out on my own in the early days, filled with self-doubt or fear of what might happen. The first time I ever left the house with a baby on my own. The first time I ever left the house with two of them on my own. The midst of the terrible twos. And days when it was all going wrong.

Nobody ever patted me on the back and told me I was doing a good job.

The days when I had the boys on my own in the UK for 8-week stints, waking up at 5am everyday thanks to jetlag and early rising sun, trying to fit work deadlines around two children, and collapsing on the sofa every night at 7pm ready to head to bed myself – but having to open my laptop instead.

Nobody ever patted me on the back and told me I was doing a good job.

The days when my husband was playing rugby, working late (again), flying to far-flung parts of the Middle East for days of work on a weekly basis and leaving me and the boys to our own devices.

Nobody ever patted me on the back and told me I was doing a good job.

This is not a sob story, as I do feel appreciated. My husband tells me that all the time. My Mother’s Day cards are filled with praise. And the boys make me feel wanted every single day.

And I don’t blame that lady for walking up to my husband and giving him praise. I’m pleased she took the time to approach him and make him feel appreciated.

He deserved it.

But it would be nice – if only once, on a Saturday afternoon with the kids when I am feeling exhausted – to be patted on the back and told I am doing an awesome job too.

If only once.

Because I think I deserve it too.