My husband recently brought home his annual work performance review. He works with a fantastic company that has an incredible business philosophy. Everyone who works there is expected to perform and do their job to the best of their abilities and is reviewed according to these guiding principles: Integrity, Compliance, Value Creation, Principled Entrepreneurship, Customer Focus, Knowledge, Change, Humility, Respect and Fulfillment.

The review goes through how my husband performed in all these areas and lists his strengths and areas for improvement (weaknesses) and gives examples of each. This helps him know how he is doing and if he is meeting expectations, below expectations, or exceeding expectations.

Every year I am so proud that he is my husband and am honored to be the wife of a man who works hard and does his best and is continually looking for ways to improve. I have to admit though, that I also am a little envious whenever he brings his reviews home.

I’m a simple stay-at-home mom. Sure I have a few little ‘jobs’ here and there but nothing full time or long term like his. My motherhood and job as a ‘homemaker’ is my career and my life. I don’t have a ‘boss’ and I therefore I don’t get reviewed. This is mostly good since I don’t take criticism very well.

But some days, I wonder, if I were to have a review of my performance as a mother and wife and homemaker, what would be said of me? What would my strengths and weaknesses be? Would I be meeting expectations, exceeding them? Or maybe not even coming close? And whose expectations would I be meeting or not meeting? Maybe it would be good to know how I can improve.

There’s no one around to congratulate me when I change a particularly messy diaper without getting poop or pee on me or anything or anyone else nearby. When I tackle a home improvement project or new recipe with success, there’s no one giving me a bonus or congratulatory plaque. I don’t get pay raises with each new child or when entering into a new stage of motherhood (going from 1 to 2 or 2 to 3 or from baby to toddler to preschooler to school-aged to college to adulthood, etc).

As I was thinking about all this, I’ve also been thinking about blogs and facebook and about the time I spend on them and why stay-at-home moms tend to dominate the social networking world.

I came across this article, Choosing Obscurity in a Facebook World and it hit the nail of my thoughts squarely on the head.

“Much of the need to communicate incessantly stems from isolation in our very busy world. A need for recognition. A need to feel that someone cares about what we are doing and accomplishing.” (emphasis mine)

I think a lot of moms, especially those who are at home more than not feel like “If I’m not getting a raise or bonus each time I accomplish something at home, then I should at least get to share it with others who are ‘in the ringer’ with me right?” Facebook, mommy forums, etc can be great outlets for mothers and women in the home. It’s a great place to go and receive praise and acknowledgment and recognition for the great and simple things we do.

It’s a tricky thing though, online socializing. Praise and encouragement is just a mouse-click away. During the middle of the day, I can turn my computer on and step into a whole new world, leaving my children and the to-do list back at home for a little bit. The only problem is that my body is still at home, but my mind is somewhere else. And sometimes, even when I am away from the computer, I catch myself walking around adding a facebook status to every activity or new revelation or thinking up some new idea or subject for my blog.

“We live in an age of Twitter and blogs, Facebook and texting. Constantly connecting.  Always available.  Telling all.  No experience is complete unless it has been tweeted or put up on a “wall”, blogged or texted.”

The recognition and praise and social interaction with other adults we get online is real…and also not real at the same time. And therefore, not quite satisfying. We yearn for something more.

“Yet in our desire for connection — we are missing out on really living. On savoring. On hiding the important things in our heart.  We forget to reflect. We miss out on real relationships because of the illusion given by the digital ones.  We are stressed from being “reachable” at all times.”

In the workplace, people work hard to contribute but also to receive proper compensation for their hard work. Mothers and women at home work hard also. But we don’t feed our kids to receive ‘best cook’ awards and we don’t wipe their dirty bottoms and pick up all their toys because someone is going to give us a raise, or more vacation time or even just a high five. We do it because it’s who we are.

It’s good to share our lives with others, to support one another and cheer each other on. But, like the above article points out, we have to make sure that in our desire for recognition and support, we are not neglecting real life. And that we “never ever be so ‘connected’ online that [we are] disconnected from God and omit to do the work He has called [us] to do.” And ultimately, no matter what anyone thinks of us, God is the one we should seek to impress and work hard to meet His expectations of ourselves. He is the ‘boss’ who we’ll receive the final review from.

Copyright 2011 Erika Marie