To Thank Or Not To Thank

How do you handle this question in your house? I’m speaking specifically about the idea of thanking your husband for things he does with the kids. It occurred to me the other day that every time I ask NewDotDad to give a bath, feed a meal, wipe a bottom, or soothe at night, I make a point to thank him afterwards. Almost simeultaneously, it occurred to me that every time I nurse a hungry baby, give a bath, make a meal, feed a meal, clean a load of clothes, keep a drawer organized, wipe a bottom, administer a medicine, comfort a boo-boo, and soothe at night, I am never thanked.

It seems like the vibe in our house right now is that when I’m doing all those things, I’m just “on the job.” Now, that’s true – I did freely sign up for this stay-at-home mom gig, and I’m happy (for the most part!) to do all those little tasks that come along with it. I understand, and I’m very appreciative, that my husband works long, hard hours which make it possible for me to stay home. Because he does work so hard at the hospital, I don’t expect him to do much here at the house. If I were working an 80+ hour week, I wouldn’t want to come home and be greeted with a “honey-do” list, so I don’t do that to NDD.

However, there is a difference in my mind between housework and childcare. Yes, taking care of an almost-11-month-old is work, but it is also the way you connect and bond and show love for him. So I don’t think it’s unreasonable for me to encourage NDD to jump in and do something for or with NewDotBaby. I do have to encourage, or ask, or outright tell him what to do, because he seems to be pretty oblivious to what needs to be done at any given moment.

Which brings me back to my point. Does it make sense to thank someone who is as fully a parent, as fully responsible, as fully participatory, as you are for doing what needs to be done? And if it does make sense – because it expresses your gratitude for taking part of your load off, or because you are glad to see they had a fun time together, or whatnot – then does it also make sense to expect the occasional “Thanks,” yourself?

Of course, I don’t believe that I should give OR withhold my expression of thanks, based on whether or not NewDotDad says “Thank you,” to me. Like gift giving, I think that thanks should be offered without the expectation of something in return. It should come from my heart. When I truly feel thankful, appreciative, grateful, pleased – then I should communicate that. I shouldn’t start a dangerous cycle of “I’ll only say (or feel, or do) X when I know he is going to say (or feel, or do) Y.” That’s no way to live with someone you love. But can I broach the subject and ask him why he doesn’t thank me? Or would that amount to little more than fishing for a compliment – and would any ensuing thanks sound tinny and insincere?

It’s a tough question for me, and I haven’t come out on the other side with a clear answer. If any of you have settled this one – or find it so clear-cut that it was never a question at all – I’d love to hear your perspectives.


5 Responses to To Thank Or Not To Thank

  1. Kristin says:

    This is *exactly* what’s happening in our house right now. However, our communication has been pretty good this week, so it’s a little better.

    Today was a good example:

    Logan has the flu. I’ve been cleaning up puke, washing clothes & sheets, giving multiple baths, comforting & entertaining the kiddo. It all started at 8 am. Bill slept in until 10, played video games & hung out around the house (however, he did make a run to the store for me & cooked dinner).

    At the end of the day, he was really tired. That irritated me. He could tell that I wasn’t too happy & asked why. So, I told him. He thanked me for taking care of Logan & the house. I thanked him for making dinner (even though he does this every night).

    This “thank you” made me feel better. We smiled, hugged & joked about how that was a good talk.

    On Tuesday, he changed every poopy diaper. We really worked as a team in taking care of the family. There was a unified feeling between all of us.

    These two events have been pretty big milestones (in my eyes). Being thanked is important (when I didn’t think it was so much before). It’s recognition for all of the hard work you put into the family.

    Being a SAHM is HARD work. Being a parent is hard work. Recognition of involvement is not only a “thanks” but reassurance that you’re doing a great job.

  2. NewDotMom says:

    Oh, I love the way you put that! I think that may be part of what I’m seeking – and I should say, NDD does say things from time to time like, “You’re a great mom.” or “You are doing such a great job with NDB.” But maybe my current hang-up on thanks is just really a need for a bit more reassurance that I’m doing a good job here.

    (And considering that we’re unexpectedly expecting and I’ve got plenty of new worries about how I will cope with two babies 18 months apart, I suspect that even further – I’m hoping for reassurance that I will be able to handle that well, too.

    Wow, I feel like that was great insight -and something I can bring up with NDD. Thanks so much for sharing that.

  3. Mrs. Chicken says:

    This is a sticking point with us right now. It seems like we have a fight about it every other day. I definitely carry the bulk of the load when it comes to The Poo and the house. But when Mr. Chicken does help, he cleans the house form top to bottom a la Donna Reed.

    I definitely do the major lifting when it comes to the baby, however. And sometimes this makes me crazy.

    Don’t have a solution or advice, just commiseration! 🙂

  4. Christy says:

    I do say thank you for the very things you are talking about. Here’s my theory. If you model behavior for your husband, behavior that you would like to see him engage in……he might get it. I also make sure I thank him for working so hard so I can be at home. And yes, it does help to have someone say thank you when you do something, even if it is something you would have done any way.

  5. Courtney says:

    I had to travel, last minute, for work this week, and leave my 3.5 month old son with my husband for 2 full days. I have to admit, I dreaded being away, every second, before, during, and even after, but the highlight of my whole week was when my husband said to me “I don’t know how you manage to work, (I work from home, normally) take care of the baby, keep the house looking mostly clean, and still cook dinner.

    I needed to hear those words, OH SO BADLY. On a side note, we’re going through a job change for husband, and i will be dropping my non-mom job like a bad habit as soon as it all comes together.

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