It’s 6pm and everyone’s hungry. And because you’re the Mom, it’s your job to magically put a healthy meal on the table, one that everyone will actually eat. But you’ve had a long day and you can’t think straight, let alone come up with dinner. That’s when you start thinking “no one appreciates me” and the resentment starts piling up. And who can blame you? You do a ton of work every day (even invisible work!). In this post, learn why you’re filled with resentment and why it’s not your fault.
Below is the podcast version of this article. The podcast explains things so much better than a blog post. I invite you to listen and also hear some examples and enjoy some laughs! You can subscribe to the Podcast by opening your favorite podcast app and typing “Balanced Working Moms” into the search or click here for a link to the podcast on iTunes.
So it’s Monday night.
I had a full day at work. I was out of the house from about 6am till I picked up the kids from day care at 4:15pm. I came home, juggled making dinner while also making sure no one got into too much mischief.
My husband came home at 5:30. We all ate a delicious home-cooked meal (that I’d made!)
And then an hour later my husband left to go to Orchestra practice, where he plays the viola.
This is my life every Monday since we had kids.
I love that my husband plays the viola.
But I don’t love that I have two young kids and I’m exhausted and I have to somehow get them to bed when that’s usually my husband’s job.
And as I tell you this story I’m thinking back to a particular evening, one that didn’t go well.
I can still feel my anger bubbling over. My resentment at having SO MUCH to do every day.
It Boils Over
Resentment is one of those emotions that gets worse and worse the longer it builds up.
Here’s a great definition of it.
Resentment is a relationship that results from one of you feeling unappreciated or taken advantage of.
Resentment is a relationship that results from one of you feeling unappreciated or taken advantage of.Mary Elizabeth Dean, What Does Resentment Mean For Your Relationship?
And this isn’t just a romantic relationship.
It’s also with your work, parents, siblings. And yes, even your kids.
It’s any relationship where you feel like someone doesn’t appreciate you or takes advantage of you.
I think it’s also when we feel like we’re giving a lot more than we’re getting back.
Resentment in Marriage
Let’s talk about resentment in marriage.
If you feel resentful, chances are, it may not be your spouse who’s to blame.
The problem is that our society does not teach equality.
How do I know this? I know this because this is problem is everywhere.
Society creates “norms” of what men and women are expected to do that is causing the problem.
Women are supposed to worry about their kids, be organized, make sure there’s food in the fridge, clean the house, keep herself looking young, and on and on. Yet it’s okay for men to chill and not do a lot of these tasks that aren’t well defined. You can even call them “invisible.”
Lessons from Gloria Steinem
Many years ago I traveled from Maryland to Chicago for the weekend just to hear Gloria Steinem speak. I’ve always idolized her and when I found I could get a ticket to hear her speak, I couldn’t book my plane and hotel fast enough.
The conference was soon after she’d gotten married. Of course, people were very rude about it.
I remember how she answered one of the hecklers in the conference who made a snide remark about a woman’s activist marrying.
She explained that usually when people marry is not when the inequality happens. Couples can be great about sharing household responsibilities and have an equal marriage.
She explained that the inequalities happened once couples started having children.
I heard this talk before I was married and before I had kids. But 20 years later, it sticks with me because based on what I’ve seen, it’s 100% true.
Like I said, the issue isn’t you or me, your husband or my husband, it’s a societal issue because our society is still set up for women to be home with the kids and men to be working.
I’m sorry to say this so bluntly, but where I sit, it’s true.
If it wasn’t true, tell me why’s there no guaranteed paid time off in the US for working moms to have kids?
Where’s the support for single Moms in our society?
Where’s affordable, high-quality day care?
Once a woman has a child, the equality we have fought so hard for goes down the toilet because we’re expected to give 100% at work and 100% at home.
And it’s not possible.
Study on Parenting Inequality
I have a quote that explains this very clearly by Dr. Haley Swenson.
“Studies have shown that, before having children, many couples share the load of managing their household and working outside the home fairly evenly,” Dr. Haley Swenson says. “It’s having kids that often makes these inequalities most exaggerated.” (source: Good Housekeeping)
There was a study done on this in 2019, which supported what Gloria Steinem described decades ago.
In the study, they found that women do most of the invisible work in the home.
Let’s talk about some of the invisible work that you do.
It’s work that no one notices but it needs to be done.
It can look like cleaning the house. Worrying about the kids getting COVID. It can even be going part-time so you have more time to do things in the home.
So much of what we do is invisible.
No one’s going to come to you and say “thank you for cleaning the toothpaste gunk from the sink”
But it’s work you do all day every day.
As a result of all this work, invisible and non-invisible, what emotion comes up for you when you get upset about everything you have to do?
The one thing I want to leave you with is that if you have a loved one, such as a spouse or family member, that you often feel resentment towards, I want you to realize that
Society may be causing this problem.
The person who you love who you may feel is taking advantage of you, it’s possible they’re not. It’s possible they’ve simply absorbed the messages we’ve been told again and again.
To learn how to let go of this resentment, see part II of this article.
It’s not easy being a working Mom. I’m wishing you so much ease and balance as you navigate this journey and all the feelings, good and bad, that it brings up.