If you ask a mom what she wants for Mother’s Day this year, chances are she will either say nothing or make a joke about wanting a nap or a self-cleaning house (or both!). But, I’m going to share with you what we moms really, truly want: appreciation. It sounds so simple, yet it is also so profound.
Moms are often referred to as the glue that holds families together. I’ve heard my husband say to my kids, “Don’t get Mommy sick. If she goes down, we’re all going down. We won’t make it!” Of course he’s just teasing. He’s an incredibly competent man and father. But, his point is that I am the one who keeps our family organized. And, well, that’s true.
While I always appreciated my mom, I didn’t really, truly appreciate her until I had my own children. Even now, I don’t think I appreciate all of her because I’ve only been through motherhood through age 9 and a half. I haven’t had to see my kids off to college or on their wedding days like she has.
But, I now know how much work moms do. It’s so much more than anyone ever really realizes, because much of the time we do it without talking about it, complaining or even mentioning it. We aren’t saints. We aren’t unique. We are just women. We are strong and we have instincts to take care of the little ones entrusted in our care.
My role as a mom has changed through the years. I am past changing diapers. I am past dealing with nursing or bottles. My children don’t depend on me for every single need any more. They take care of their own bathroom needs, they can make simple food for themselves and even usually find ways to entertain themselves when I’m busy.
However, it’s also gotten more complex. When my children were babies, my goal and purpose was to keep them alive. During the toddler years, I added keeping them safe from all the things they wanted to get into and shouldn’t. Moving on to preschool, I added helping them learn more about making friends, basic skills and things like letters, shapes and colors.
Now they are both school-aged with my youngest being in kindergarten. My role has added on the task of helping them learn to really navigate the complexity of friendships and stresses of school. My kindergartener isn’t struggling with most of those things, yet, but my 9-year-old is. I want to teach her how to not just survive in life but to thrive.
The pressure increases and intensifies in different ways as our kids get older. Figuring it all out is pretty much impossible, but we do our best. Moms are counselors, nurses, chefs, chauffeurs, teachers and playmates all rolled into one. We fill a purpose in our children’s life.
And all of that is really what we’d love to be appreciated for. I don’t think my kids are going to recognize any time soon how much I truly do for them or all the responsibilities I have as their mom. That’s OK. That’s how it should be. They are kids and should get to be kids as long as they can be!
You know who really understands it? Other moms. Whether she has kids who are a couple of months old or grown or all the ages in between, moms get it. We know what it feels like to be up all night with a crying baby. We know what it feels like to hold a sick child in our arms praying they can get some rest. We know what it feels like to pray that God blesses you with a child. We know what it feels like to wrack your brain as you organize all the day’s tasks in your head.
Moms know what it feels like to read the same book 50 times in a row because they love it so much. We know what it feels like to make sure that there is food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We know what it feels like to worry when one of them is having a hard time. We know what it feels like to have a piece (or pieces) of our hearts go walking around in the world. We know what it feels like to feel like we’re messing up every day but praying God will take care of our children in spite of us. We know how much we want to keep them from feeling pain.
Other moms know how hard it is to let their kids grow and leave the nests whether in small ways or big ones. We know the ache of wondering how they are doing when they are out of our care. We know the frustration and exhaustion they can cause. We know what it feels like to desperately want a moment to yourself. We know what it feels like to wash laundry 5 million times a day and never be caught up.
Moms know how hard it is to discipline when you just want to rest. We know what it feels like to be a human kleenex and professional bottom wiper. We know the unspeakable love and joy of holding them in our arms. We know the way it feels to kiss soft cheeks when they are sleeping and look so angelic. We know what it feels like to want to go to the bathroom alone.
The list could go on and on and on. So while this Mother’s Day, we might ask a break from all of the work (or even some of the work!) or we might ask for a nap. What we really want most of all is appreciation. Maybe the best appreciation of all comes from other moms who get where you are. Of course our journeys are all different. We all have different struggles, but at the end of the day, we are all moms and we just plain get it.
So for this Mother’s Day, while you’re exclaiming over homemade cards and getting extra hugs, find another mom (or two or three or four!) and tell her how well she’s doing. Tell her that she’s rocking her motherhood journey, whether her kiddo is 4 months, 14 years or 40 years. She won’t stop being a mother as long as she is breathing, and I guarantee that she’d love to hear someone tell her how great she’s doing.
Good job, mamas! You are rocking your journey! You aren’t perfect. You mess up sometimes. But you love your babies and you are doing your best. You’ve got this! Happy Mother’s Day!