One of the most challenging parts of a homemaker's job is that so much of it is composed not of projects which have a beginning and end, but of never-ending, almost unnoticeable tasks that are so necessary to the smooth running of a home, but aren't considered real accomplishments.
We might receive appreciation for a delicious dinner, a beautifully set table, a skilfully knitted sweater. But what about all the other things we do each day? Washing the dishes, doing the laundry, sweeping, mopping, picking up clutter, taking out the garbage, bathing the children and other everyday tasks just don't seem to count. And so, at the end of a day, it's easy to feel as though the bulk of our time has been taken by... nothing.
Some of us are blessed by attentive husbands, grateful children and supportive communities that don't let us feel as though what we do is unimportant. But more often than not, the homemaker's routine work goes unnoticed. Like a perfectly functioning mechanism or a healthy body, we don't notice its function until it's disrupted or broken.
In the hottest days of summer, do you think much about your air conditioner until one time it's broken? Do you pay attention to everyday blessings such as electricity, running water, clothes and food in abundance? Probably not. Most people hardly ever pause to think about the beating of their heart, even though they would die if it stopped.
Similarly, much of the homemaker's work is often unnoticed until the faithful wife and Mommy gives in to a mean case of flu and stays in bed for a couple of days. And then, when the clutter piles up and the family runs out of clean dishes and underwear, the other household members finally realize it's time to pitch in. After a couple of days, Mom is back on her feet sweeping, dusting and folding laundry, and hopefully, an important lesson has been learned about how much work it really takes to keep a home running.
This is one of the reasons why the husband and children (when they are old enough) should share at least some of household load. It doesn't have to be much. It can be something as basic as every family member picking up after himself. Getting help from other family members doesn't mean that the homemaker is bad at coping with her work. It's a gesture of respect which will do a great service to the children in years to come. The wife will usually be the primary household manager, but if no one else ever helps to sort and fold laundry, it's so easy to assume that neatly folded socks appear in drawers automatically.
My husband works hard and I don't expect him to do any housework during the week, but on Shabbat nights, he usually puts on an apron and washes the dishes. He does that very sweetly and out of love. And it serves as a reminder that there are dishes to be washed, and that I do that several times each day.
No matter what the circumstances are, it's important to get up and try to do the daily works with joy in your heart. It's not true that we have no control over our moods. If you dress in pretty clothes, put on cheerful music, light some candles and smile, your spirit will usually be uplifted. Nothing does wonders like a daily portion of time spent in prayer, preferably early in the morning. No matter what, we know He sees what is right within our hearts, and therefore, we don't need to worry that we don't receive enough appreciation for our work. As long as we offer it all to Him, we should be fine.