Yesterday was Mother’s Day. The one day a year that is set aside to fawn over mothers and their tremendous contributions to the world. The rest of the year we should be doing this as well. Unfortunately, we let busy life get in the way. We take their sacrifices for granted because “that is what moms are supposed to do.”
Mothers have one of the hardest jobs on the planet. This is only magnified when the decision is made to stay at home full time raising kids. For those of us working outside the home, we leave the chaos of “work” at the end of the day. We come home and expect to not immediately be bombarded by all the requests and needs that arise as we are away from home. Do we afford stay at home mothers (or fathers) the same privilege? Good grief, no! They are ones we ask to “give us a few moments” when we walk in.
If coworkers shouted at us and fought like kids do we would all immediately head to the human resources department to have the situation corrected. Where does mom go? She is HR, accounting, dining services, housekeeping, taxi service, purchasing, and the list goes on. Instead of having someone else to step in and help resolve situations, she must try to remain calm and impartial. Even though she has been brought into the middle of the battle already.
Then, as soon as she resolves the conflict someone is demanding lunch. Or clean clothes. Or wondering why there is no more toothpaste in the cupboard. Everyone in the house needs something all the time. When does mom get a break? When she falls asleep at night. Every waking hour is filled with requests and demands from someone else. There is very little time for her to even have her own thoughts, let alone have a few uninterrupted minutes to accomplish a task.
These items are only compounded more when homeschooling is added to the mix. Suddenly, successfully educating children has been throw on top of the gigantic pile of expectations. Reading, algebra, science, health, and all the other topics generate even more demands. Someone constantly has questions with school work. Which is a good thing; we learn from asking. Unfortunately, the questions often line up when the other siblings are arguing about something. Or the dogs need to go outside. Or it is time to eat. Or do laundry. Throw in attending the public schools for music classes, and the time demands are overwhelming.
No matter how much those that work outside the home try to pitch in, it is of little use. It is like trying to bail out a sinking boat with a sewing thimble. We feel good about helping, but completely inadequate in being able to make a difference in the big picture of the daily grind.
So when Mother’s Day roles around what do we try to do? Make it up to her in one single day. How do we do that? Try to guess what gift will make it all better? Good luck. Maybe ask what she wants? That is dangerous too. She may say “a day of peace and quiet.” How do you successfully do that? Take the kids and leave her home alone? Then her mother’s guilt will kick in and she will feel bad for wanting a break from her kids. And miss them. Especially when you come home from laughing and smiling from having fun all day.
Have you tried to turn the tables and send her out while you stay home and try to not have too much fun? What happens? She returns with a weeks worth of groceries, new clothes for the kids, and some dog food. Not exactly the relaxing you were planning on. She can’t help it, the drive to accomplish tasks just wont quit. Besides, she is “more efficient” without the kids in tow.
A year’s worth of selfless devotion to family cannot be repaid in a single day’s actions. It is something that needs to be constantly acknowledged and praised. Gratitude is an amazing thing. I am as guilty as the next person of not verbally sharing my feelings towards Melissa in her motherly role. I try and try, but still fall short. Life gets busy. I assume she “understands” how I feel. I am sure you know what I am talking about.
I have tried a few things to improve this. First, I ask her about the her day after I get home. Then I actually listen. With my eyes and ears. I know it is a small action, but there is validation in being heard. I can answer questions, help process issues. Do what I need to do as a spouse. I also try to compliment and thank her for the many of the things she feels the need to accomplish during the day. Even the mundane ones. Another small token of appreciation is to pitch in whenever I can to help. Whether it be with the children or chores. I try my best to do everything I can. For instance, I know she hates to lug the vacuum around the house so I try to get to it before she does.
One other area I keep working on her with is to find some “me time.” Time where she can be involved in an activity she enjoys. Something she can do by herself, or with friends. Anything that gives her a break from living and working in the same space 24 hours a day. This is a definite work in progress (someone has a hard time letting go and enjoying herself). I can tell it works though. When she returns she is much more relaxed.
Trying these things year round does not mean we ignore Mother’s Day. Of course not. This year the kids choreographed a dance routine to “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen, and performed it for her. (For all those who have seen the movie, good luck getting that song out of your head the rest of the day.) She got flowers as well. We also made her some brownies, which is a big deal given the diet she has been on lately. She decided this was the weekend to reintroduce egg whites, which made it easier. The rest of the family was a little worried about the taste of gluten and dairy free brownies, but we know she would like them. She has not consumed sweets in three months. They were actually pretty good. Especially topped with coconut whipped cream.
Our Mother’s Day was not perfect. The kids still fought. There were still tasks and chores to be completed. Meltdowns were had. Tears were shed. But we also laughed and enjoyed time as family. And mom knows that we love her a whole bunch. You can’t ask for much more than that.
How about you out there? Any good suggestions and ideas for telling stay-at home-parents how much we appreciate all they do? Leave a comment or send an email and inspire the rest of us!