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Moms, Are You Put Down or Put on a Pedestal?

Posted: 07/22/09 12:33 PM ET

"The greatest need of every human being is the need for appreciation." The author of this auspicious quote may be unknown, but man she was a female for sure! It's amazing how much energy we have to do for others when we feel we've been acknowledged. The thank-yous we constantly remind our kids to say are mostly an instinctual need to instill manners, but the reality is that the appreciation we receive does have a positive effect.

And why not? In this era of color-coded calendars that keep track of the dozen commitments on any given day, we just expect that we'll get through our massive to-do lists and so does everyone else. It feels good to get a pat on the back. If we don't, it means not only do we take ourselves for granted but that others do too. That said, does checking off all the items on our to-do invigorate us enough and make us feel successful that we don't necessarily need the accolades of others? As moms, the bottom line is there are a certain amount of expectations -- they just come with the job -- but should we keep giving without getting a little in return?

We wanted to know. So we went out to our readers and asked them to take our Posh Mom Poll: Are You Put Down or Put on a Pedestal? Some of the answers surprised us, some we expected, and one we were ecstatic to hear. For starters, it was no shock to learn that a 76 percent of posh moms polled agreed that they feel the list they begin with in the morning is longer by day's end. The to-do list really is never ending. Something or many things are always popping up and that's a lot of stress when you can't cross things off (whether you're one of those sticky-note laden moms or a PDA buff). "The key is in how you define what constitutes a 'productive day,' advises Eric Dammann, a Manhattan psychoanalyst. "If it's defined as getting everything on the list done, then you're likely to be constantly stressed and feeling like a failure. But if the goal is broken down into more manageable bite-sized pieces," suggests Dr. Dammann, "then you can feel good about your accomplishments even if things are left undone."

As for our moms feeling appreciated? Only about 50 percent of them felt like they are recognized for the work they do each day. We get that -- to a degree. The kids just assume that clean clothes will be folded and in their drawers and closets (moms do laundry). Breakfast will be waiting, lunch will be made, and dinner will be on the table (moms cook). Snack drawer will be topped off and favorite drinks are always in the fridge (moms go to the supermarket). They will get to activities on time and all over town (moms drive). And the list goes on. Again, it's all part of a day's work or a night's for those moms who work out of the house and have to ensure the particulars are in order while she's out bringing home the bacon. But when can a mom expect to be appreciated for it all, or can't she? It seems that for both teams saying thanks is a win-win situation since more than 75 percent of moms say that being recognized for what they do has a direct impact on how much more they are willing to take on next time. Still says Dr. Dammann, "being a parent can often be a thankless job and children often don't [and if quite young shouldn't be expected to] appreciate the sacrifices we make on their behalf. Therefore it's important for parents to find internal rewards rather than expecting rewards to come from others."

Plus, Dr. Dammann says, "A good partnership between the parents is also important here, because they can and should encourage and appreciate the sacrifices each of them make for their children." It also helps to share the actual workload. When we discovered that about 60 percent of posh moms polled felt they carried more of the workload weight in their households, we, knowing ourselves, wondered how much of that is self-imposed by control freaks or how much is again the societal expectation of a mother's role. Either way, there are means to ask to share the load that can ease a mom's feeling of being a pushover. "The key here is to focus on the household as a shared priority which we deal with as a partnership, with shared goals," suggests Dr. Dammann. "Like in a well-run corporation, this does not necessarily mean everyone does the same work, and in families where only one parent works outside of the home the amount of time spent on work inside the home will obviously not be equal. But if the parents are working as a team, with different responsibilities that are mutually agreed upon, you can avoid the problems that come from turning the running of the house into a battle of "me vs. you," and keep it where it should be, at 'us,'" he says.

Think of the benefits. If the hubbie is around, he can pick up at baseball and you can meet a friend for a quick cup of java. You get much needed adult and social time, he gets quality time with your little guy. Seems like some of our ladies like that idea or something close to it since at least more than three-quarters of our survey takers said they give themselves permission to take time for themselves. Good for you, we say. And good for your family: "Self-care, which should not be viewed as self-indulgence," says Dr. Dammann, "is a crucial ingredient in being truly able to care for others. The healthy approach is a balanced one, which instinctively recognizes that you can't really adequately care for anyone else if you are not caring for yourself."

You might not know it, but taking time for you is actually you telling yourself you deserve a reward for a job well done.

 

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