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Utah, United States
One night while tucking Abby into bed she sweetly chimed, "good night! Sleep tight! Don't let the bed bites bug you!" I like her thinking. Sometimes life bites. The trick is to not let it bug you.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mother's Day PTSD

I hope Mother's Day weekend treated every mom well! I was so busy enjoying it, I didn't find time to blog. and I think I'm still recovering from it. I have, however, been contemplating what being a mom, specifically, my being a mom, means to me. So, even though I may be a few days late and dollars short with this post, I still feel compelled to express my thoughts.

I have an amazing mom. I was lucky to have her close enough to spend a good part of Sunday with her this year, as she has been visiting my equally amazing grandma. Aren't they gorgeous? I have great childhood memories of them both. My mother was patient and selfless, made awesome dinners and sack lunches, introduced me to the Beatles and Tchaikovsky and set me on the path to good grammar (though I've yet to reach her level of proficiency). My grandma was unconditionally loving, grew her own cucumbers and pickled them, enjoyed mildly naughty humor and warbled with the best of the old ladies at church. Now as an adult, I appreciate so much more about who they are and what they did for me. Both of them taught me things I've incorporated into my own momhood, which began almost 15 years ago.

These are the people who are s'posed to help me get a nap.
Since becoming a mom, I've enjoyed Mother's Day. I like the homemade gifts and handprint cards from school. I like getting my flower at church (or CD, as was the case this year). I like getting a guilt-free nap.

I know there are women who dislike Mother's Day, including my mother-in-law, who over the years has dreaded listening to the old men at church stand and recount the perfections of their dearly departed mothers. Guilt trips can certainly be a reason to dislike Mother's Day, as can feeling insufficiently recognized. I have a friend whose husband (the father of their children) has flat out told her he doesn't celebrate Mother's Day! Dork.

Scott is great at Mother's Day. He assumes the responsibilities I usually shoulder, and rallies the kids to dote on (and give space to) me so I can rest. Maybe Mother's Day is meant to be more than a day for dads to take care of the kids, but I have no problem with that aspect of the holiday! I'll do the same for my husband on Father's Day, after all.
This year, Scott signed me up for a 5k the day before Mother's Day. I took 1st place in my age category, so he is forgiven.

At Abby's recital, 8/10.
I like the fact that on Mother's Day moms are recognized, not just for being beautiful, cuddly and sweet, as many of us indeed are, but more importantly for all the crap we put up with. If I were to write up a job description of what it is I do everyday, many of the details would border on the ridiculous. If I wanted to be classy about it, I could say that my duties would cover many different positions found in a typical Fortune 500 company: secretarial, janitorial, mail room, human resources, P.R., food services, car service and lots of after-hours unpaid meetings and paperwork, paperwork, paperwork! (Though no self-respecting business would allow their clients to ride in my car!-- Be sure to go to that link. You'll die laughing.)

The truth of it is, I just finished a 15 minute game of "Where's Bobby?" with my toddler who just discovered the sliding doors on his closet. I seem to have endless conversations about excrement. I have to change my shirt a couple of times a day because these people ooze and squirt and spill constantly.  I have a serious case of "Mother Brain" amnesia. I am reminded regularly that I can't remember algebra (and therefore remind myself regularly that I have my degree and shouldn't have to remember it anymore), and I regularly forget the names of my children (that I picked out for them).

Tennis with Andrew.
Then again, I also get to snuggle a sleeping baby while removing him from his car seat and settling him into his bed. I am the recipient of breathy little boy cheek-kisses after school everyday. I get to introduce my favorite music and interests to my older kids, and share their excitement in appreciating anew what I've taken for granted. Not bad job benefits.

In all seriousness, I have realized that part of the reason I feel valuable as a woman and mother is because I am a part of a religious culture that holds motherhood in high esteem. I also like the fact that it is becoming increasingly popular to recognize women in general on Mother's Day, as even in our modern society, women in almost every setting are still doing a lot of "mothering" to their neighbors, co-workers, and even their own parents. Mothers or not, it is so nice to have a day when women can be recognized for their unique contributions to the world. In a recent world-wide conference, LDS members were reminded:
Our doctrine is clear: Women are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves them. Wives are equal to their husbands. Marriage requires a full partnership where wives and husbands work side by side to meet the needs of the family. - Elder Quentin L. Cook

Though I have worked outside the home at times, I have never questioned whether my contribution to society was less while being at home full-time. I appreciate what Elder Cook had to say on this subject:

These are very emotional, personal decisions, but there are two principles that we should always keep in mind. First, no woman should ever feel the need to apologize or feel that her contribution is less significant because she is devoting her primary efforts to raising and nurturing children. Nothing could be more significant in our Father in Heaven’s plan. Second, we should all be careful not to be judgmental or assume that women are less valiant if the decision is made to work outside the home. We rarely understand or fully appreciate people’s circumstances. Husbands and wives should prayerfully counsel together, understanding they are accountable to God for their decisions.

I love the idea that as I go through my experience as a mom, I'm performing a divinely sanctioned task. It is this thought that gets me through the difficult days, and makes me smile on the good ones. God and I are in this job together. He's my boss, and I'm very thankful he has employed me as a mom.


apple slice said...

awesome summation. love the mom and grandma. you are a brilliant mommy. i know this. i love the line "We rarely understand or fully appreciate people’s circumstances." so true!!

Deidra said...

Best post ever!

1st place?! Way to run! You're amazing!

Youtube video? Hilarious, I was laughing all by myself sitting here.

I am glad you had a good mother's day. You are a great mom and deserve it!

Karen said...

Thanks, guys! You are both awesome ladies that I admire greatly!

I should make it very clear, I did no running in that 5k. This is why it is so hilarious that I won! I mostly walked, jogged a few times while pushing Bobby in a jogger. Poor showing, 40-44 year-old Sandy women, but I'll take it!!!! Ha ha!

slcscott said...

And you are a great mom at that. we love you.