Have you ever read the book "The Five Love Languages"? If not, I suggest you do. In it the author, Gary Chapman, describes five different ways that people express love, and wish to receive love. He says that people have a primary (and often a secondary) love language, and that this is how we can best receive love and often try to show love to our spouse. It's also often a reason why couples fight: they don't have the same love language. For example, my husband has physical touch as his primary love language. He will often say with some genuine surprise, "oh, you do love me" when I give him a hug at the end of a long day. Well of course I do, I think to myself, but to him, this is the best way that I can show him this. Well, to be fair, hugs, backrubs, and making him food are probably about equal.
Back when I first read the book I identified quality time as my primary love language. I start to feel as though my husband must not love me very much anymore whenever the two of us are busy and spend a lot of time apart. Recently though, I have been realizing that I also crave words of encouragement a lot. And that is precisely why my current job of stay-at-home mom is so difficult. I give 100% of myself everyday to two girls who are unable to express their gratitude for my dedication. Once in awhile Emily can muster a thanks when I deliver her a nutritious lunch or help her clean up her toys, but most of the time, it's a pretty thankless job. And it never ends. I am working hard from the moment one of my girls wakes me in the morning until little Sophie finally peters out at night, and sometimes in the middle of the night too, if Emily has a bad dream or Sophie wakes up to eat. And most of the time, I don't mind. Because it is a choice I made, a choice our family made together. And I like it (most of the time). But it sure would be nice if there were a way to feel like what I do is making a difference.
When I worked for Calvin Seminary, my supervisor was always quick to offer reassurance that I was doing well, that he appreciated my work and admired it. But now, I can go days without seeing a direct benefit for anything I'm doing. What's my point here? I don't know exactly except that I think all parents who stay at home and strive to parent well don't get nearly enough recognition for their work. So let's just take a moment to offer a big kudos to stay-at-home parents! And next time you see one, tell them that you know what a hard job they have and you appreciate their work.