I am a somewhat seasoned mother of three and in between the moments filled with overflowing bathtub bubbles, tantrums, flu season, and bedtime stories…I am sometimes able to look back at my childhood with more perspective and really admire my mom’s parenting. I love my mom for so many reasons, but mostly because she was always a mom first and a friend second (or last, if you think about those hormonal adolescent years when a mom can do nothing correct and a daughter is always struggling for a bit more trust and control.) Being a mom makes me appreciate all of the things my mom did for me growing up as a kid, but I also admire everything she continues to do, especially now that I am a grown adult.
Because everyone needs a mom.
My mother stayed home with all of her kids, like me, but I can’t say she and I have very similar situations. Today’s marketing world really recognizes stay-at-home moms and dads. Fast food places have story hours, restaurants offer menus and crayons for kids, while many public area attractions have free events or children’s programs during the weekdays for families with youngsters. My mom had to do the bulk of entertaining three crazy kids all by herself during the week. There were no websites with DIY craft ideas available, and it would be decades before we knew about Pinterest. Driving into the city to just peruse Target (which is something I do a lot with my children) was never a viable option of entertainment for my mom. Still, she (and other moms in our small town) found great ways to keep us kids happy. We went to parks and playgrounds. We went fishing and hiked trails. We had countless wiffle ball tournaments in our backyard during the summer, often times with dozens of neighbor kids participating. My mom was always on-hand monitoring all of the children, and making sure we had snacks and access to the bathroom. Cold weather probably meant more television, but that is pretty much the same arrangement for today’s parenting world. However, I fortunately never have to hear my kids complain about commercials. My poor mom (and others like her) could only show us what was actually on TV during that time of day or put in a beat to death VHS tape. There were no tablets, no IPADs, and no educational Apps. There were no cell phones!
During my younger years there were a lot of women that stayed home to raise their kids. I would never say it was a common practice, but it definitely was not out of the ordinary. Acknowledgment for how hard stay-at-home mothers had it back then may have been taken for granted. Nowadays working moms are pretty great about giving us stay-at-homies a shout out of praise, at least all of my full-time working mom friends are good about it. I’m not sure if my mom or others like her ever really heard how hard their job was and how great they were for doing it well. These days we have blogs (like this one) for support and groups like MOPS.
A very practical thing I love about my mom, now that I am a busy parent, is that she never made my brothers and me cold lunch for elementary school. This drove me crazy when I was younger but is now a practice I have embraced. I think every mom in the universe can agree that mornings and evenings are way too hectic. I sincerely applaud those that fit packing a lunch box into their schedule, but it (along with going to the circus) is something I can’t bring myself to do unless it is mandated as a field trip requirement for my child’s school. Hot lunches are just too convenient for me and I truly believe every kid should have to experience chili with a cinnamon roll, and main dishes that are called things like: battered beef fingers or cowboy beans over biscuits. (Thanks Mom, for proving to me that this was a way to make life more manageable on the home-front.)
Staying home is a tough gig on its own, and my mom stayed home for a lot of reasons, but I think a big reason was that my little brother battled cancer (and won) at a very young age. This hard fought journey probably took away a lot of other choices. Staying home with your kids is a full-time job, staying home with a hospital grade sick kid is the equivalent of a full-time job plus mandatory overtime, with never-ending night shifts, and unpaid holidays; all while being under alien attack. Now that I am going through the motherhood motions of potty training, coordinating softball practices, carpooling to dance lessons, staying current on our school’s schedule, and trying to squeeze in my work as a freelance writer…I think about how my mom had to do everything I am doing (sans the writing, but she also did not have a DVR!) PLUS take care of a seriously ill child. There were no on-line support groups, and no easy prescription refill plans available at a touch of a button. I text my friends daily to make sure my kids and myself are normal, or to even just get some comic relief during a tough day. I don’t even want to think how often I have Googled a funky injury in hopes of getting a comforting diagnosis. My mom had to take care of three kids, and make hundreds of trips to the doctor for my little brother, without the convenience of being able to call for comfort on a cell phone or look up concerns via the internet. She was and always will be a rock star to me for having that kind of stoic strength.
My mom was not the only mom I grew up with and saw tackling this type of battle. I lost a good friend to cystic fibrosis in middle school, and her mother also stayed home. My friend’s mom was always fun and made life beautiful. We had epic sleepovers with snack runs to the local gas station that probably cost a fortune. She let us stay up way too late and watch so many movies. This mother did all of the things moms do, while also giving her daughter daily respiratory treatments and helping her stay caught up on school work from numerous missed days due to an illness that could be so unrelenting. Both she and my mom kept their worry hidden behind very brave faces. I am in awe everyday of how well they coped because as a child I had no idea how serious things were for them. Their example of excellence also helps propel me to have a mommy network of friends, and appreciate face to face communication and friendship with others going through the trials of motherhood.
When you become a mother, the feeling of family takes on such a stronger presence. My mom emphasized the importance of family, and was consistent throughout my childhood about keeping us close with our extended family members. We grew up around grandparents, visited aunts and uncles, and routinely saw our cousins. My brothers and I were able to sort of take them all for granted, but not in a bad way. They were just always around and that is meaningful, and impressive considering there was no Facebook back in the day. Therefore in order to stay in touch with relatives when I was little, we actually had to take the time to call, visit, and talk. Now my own children benefit and get spoiled by great grandparents, great aunts and great uncles who were all gracious enough to care about me as a kid.
My mom also hosted a lot of family gatherings growing up, and if she wasn’t hosting; then it was one of my aunts or one of my grandmas doing it…all of them women, all of them busy, but also all of them happy to take charge (or at least putting that smiling face forward on the day of the event and never complaining within earshot of the kids or men). Nothing ever got catered either, all homemade goodness. I love and appreciate that my mom, my aunts, and my grandmas showed me the importance of staying connected with family, especially siblings. I am trying to follow in their footsteps because I know my kids are better for it. My brothers and brother-in-law get invited to too many of our events, but they almost always come and have a guaranteed good time because we always laugh the hardest with (or at) our siblings.
Moms run households, heal wounds, coordinate business meetings, run companies, take control, and offer a listening ear. Moms are awesome and I love hearing my kids say, call, yell, and scream this title at me because it hopefully means I am to them what my mother was and always will be to me…so very important. Because like I said before, everyone needs a mom.
Thanks mom for what you did then, for what you do now, and for what we will go through together in the future.
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