I've dedicated Petite Planet to discussing ways to help save Mother Earth, but in this post, I'm going to talk about saving the spirits of mothers who live on earth.
Why is it that Oprah has declared on many occasions that mothers (disclaimer: if you're a stay at home dad raising your children, this post is for you too) have the hardest job in the world, yet mothers continue to receive no accolades, celebrity status, pay rise, or financial windfall? I mean, Oprah just has to refer to Spanx, hold up a paperback and call it her "favorite," pat Elizabeth Gilbert on the hand or admonish James Frey, and her word or touch makes or breaks products and lives. So, why has everyone failed to receive the message that mothers deserve so much more than the thanks or no thanks that they get on an average day?
I was clearly ignorant before I had a baby. I don't know how I managed to retain my illusions on what motherhood was before I actually became a mother... but now that I know how hard it is, I think there should be a channel on television dedicated to telling everyone, in 100 different languages, on 24/7 streaming video, exactly how hard it is.
A friend of mine once told me that when her husband came home from work, he would ask her what she did all day, seeing the dishes in the sink and the laundry not folded, and her reply was, "I kept our child alive all day long." At the time, I was childless, and I thought she was being a bit drastic... now I understand what she meant.
And in the face of all the hard work, comes the relentless commentary from passerby, relatives, strangers, spouses, parents, siblings, UPS delivery men, grocery store check out clerks, someone walking their dog in the park you're playing in... (yes, all of these people have felt the need to comment on my mothering skills at one point or another), why does everyone think that I, or any mother for that matter needs to hear that their little Sally is better acclimated and socialized because she started school/daycare at 18 months? Why must we be asked why our toddler is whining when they don't get their way, when we have read 65 different books and philosophies on child-rearing, have implemented 4,032 practices, ("can you use your nice voice please?") and the result is still a shrill whine when our toddler is upset? Why do you think we need to know that your child never gets up once during the night, or has no trouble staying home with any number of babysitters, or can already say their ABC's, or eats steamed kale atop brown rice, or can use the potty, or can entertain himself so well while you get the housework done?
Whether you're a mother yourself, know one, or have one (and I'm pretty sure you do), why not tell the next mom you see what a TREMENDOUS job she is doing raising her child? I don't care if her kid is face down on the floor in the children's section of the library pitching a fit after having just thrown a sippy cup filled with 100% organic pomegranate juice at the wall... refrain from doing anything that will make her think she is not living up to everyone's notion of what the perfect mother is. Smile at her as if she is a rare piece of artwork you have been waiting your whole life to see up close.
To all of the moms out there, I extend my personal, heartfelt admiration for all that you do. I want you to know that I appreciate you and the universe treasures you, even if your everyday life seems thankless. My toddler has entered quite the whining phase, and each day presents a new challenge in her budding personality as her ego takes center stage, but this morning, on this first day of the new year, she turned to me while I was still sleeping, took my chin in her little hand, and woke me up with a kiss on the lips and an enthusiastic, "MAMA!"
After all, people get "MOM," not "NAYSAYER" tattooed on their arm for a reason.