Month: May 2012
This is being posted past Mother’s Day since I have to wait until it’s published in the Globe and then online by the Globe. I decided not to wait for their online posting since it may be closer to Mother’s Day 2013 by then!
“Nobody knows of the work it takes to keep the home together. Nobody knows of the steps it takes. Nobody knows – but mother.” Anonymous.
Once someone figured out how challenging it can be to be a mother, it must have dawned on them to say, “Hey let’s honor these ladies!” And so it began. In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a bill recognizing Mother’s Day as a national holiday.
Fast-forward to 2012. It’s now the most popular day of the year to dine out. (That’s not too unreasonable.) It’s also the day with the highest traffic on telephone lines. Finally sons and daughters are calling their mothers. They’re beyond deserving this simple gesture.
I’m not sure about everything Wilson initially had in mind regarding Mother’s Day, but I’m thinking we’ve gotten a little off track. Spending on this day to honor the matriarch of the family has gotten a little out of hand. According to the National Retail Federation, “Americans will spend 18.6 billion this Mother’s Day.” (Say what!) That’s a bit much when it comes to gift giving and most mothers aren’t looking for that kind of gratitude anyway.
There are lots of moms who would be grateful for the things their children can’t wrap up. A full night’s sleep, a nap during the day, or just allowing mom to put her feet up and read a book, benefits the whole family. Some moms are simply tired. Chipping in and washing or unloading the dishwasher goes a long way too. Allowing mom to shower and get ready without a constant flow of children interrupting with their dire questions is the equivalent of a diamond ring in my house. Even better, how about dad takes the kids out for the day and mom is left at home to do whatever she wants. This request usually surprises dads, but it’s amazing how many mothers love the idea.
For moms who aren’t exhausted, hiking at a nearby park is free. Packing up a picnic and taking advantage of the beautiful weather is another option. Who couldn’t use more vitamin D in their lives?
Some dads and children need a little more convincing that Mother’s Day can be simple. When I dragged myself out of bed the other day my husband starting firing questions at me about Mother’s Day plans. His intentions were out of love but all I could think of was “I don’t want to do anything.” The day before consisted of a five and half hour track meet, followed by my son’s doubleheader in baseball. After getting home a little before 11pm I was trying to psych myself up for driving on my sixth-graders field trip. The last thing on my mind was doing one more thing. My eyes were burning from lack of sleep and on the verge of watering and my bed was calling me. Even coffee wasn’t a cure this particular day. All I could get out was, “Now’s not the best time to talk about this.” I was too tired to go into any more detail.
That said, spoil mom on Mother’s Day (which is tomorrow for those who have been living under a rock), and keep it simple. Money doesn’t equal love. Encourage little ones to make cards or wrap empty boxes and tell mom it’s a hug when she unwraps the box with nothing tangible inside. Older children can bring mom coffee or tea in bed, or keep the noise level down so she can catch a bit more sleep. Many times the most memorable gift isn’t one that came from a store.
Courtesy of The Atchison Globe
Some women could have a college degree in guilt. It’s how we’re made.
“Guilt” is defined as: “the fact of having committed a crime or implied offense. It’s a feeling of having done wrong or failed in an obligation.” The dictionary might as well say, “What a mother feels when she takes time for herself.” The funny thing is, what purpose does it serve to not take care of oneself? It certainly doesn’t help our spouse or children. Mothers can’t give when they’re running on empty. “Give” is defined as, “to freely transfer the possession of something to someone.” This includes love, affection, or other emotional support. It means to “provide or supply with.” The fact is, you can’t draw water from a well that’s run dry, although many women continually try to do this. That said, mothers need a break. They need time away whether it’s a few hours, a day, or (insert big gasp here) even a weekend off.
Last weekend I had the opportunity to go on a weekend retreat with friends from all over the country. I was in disbelief I was actually leaving until my plane left the ground. Finally, I was able to exhale. At last, I was able to take care of myself when I had been trying to draw from a well that had run dry. I had been depleted for a while but still trying to put one foot in front of the other. I had run out of patience. I was overdue for a time-out.
In order to feel less guilt about leaving five kids and a husband, I tried to take care of as much as I could before I left. Laundry, grocery shopping, and house cleaning were accomplished. My husband took care of the rest. I only arranged rides home from school for my children. My husband said, “Go, Lisa. Don’t worry. Take care of yourself.” Yes, I married an amazing man! For women that don’t have a husband that feels comfortable stepping up to the plate, there’s hope. The number of friends or family members willing to help would surprise many women. Step one is simply asking.
Even my husband is smart enough to know he can’t do it alone while working full-time. Wives have to accept our husbands may do things differently than us, but it doesn’t mean their way is wrong. It’s enough for me to come home to happy children who have missed me, and a husband who appreciates me. I was greeted with children running and jumping into my arms. My junior high daughter exclaimed in relief, “Thank God! Everything is normal again!” Soon I was back to helping with homework and my son saying, “I want you to quiz me. I like it better when you do it.” (I’m less of a teacher and more of a “just gives the answer” type.)
I’m grateful for my friends that helped while I was away. My children weren’t forgotten at school or sporting events. They were fed and well rested. The only thing forgotten was bringing snacks for the kindergarten class. Because I purchased them ahead of time, my husband thought I’d be upset he forgot. I had to reassure him it wasn’t a big deal. That’s minor compared to the responsibilities I left for him to accomplish.
Mothers need to set their egos aside and accept the world will go one without us. We’re not the only ones who can take care of the demands of running a family. Whether a mother is a stay-at-home mom or works outside the home too, she needs a break once in a while. If we don’t take a time-out to replenish our mind, body, and spirit, we’re not doing our family or ourselves any good. So, take a break and leave the guilt behind.