Celebrating Moms Versus Dads
It seems as though everything I thought I knew or most parenting opinions I had have changed since having my first child. Celebrating moms versus dads and their respective national days is no exception. I struggled so much the first couple months doing everything myself. I remember laying in bed with a leach sucking the life out of me thinking: “Forget just a day for mothers, they should get a whole month. Shrines should be erected in their honor. Mothers should be treated as national heroes. You should have to salute moms as you pass them by.”
But seriously, I really didn’t understand how I could go through so much of my life and not truly understand how important mothers are and how valued they should be. I sacrificed and will probably sacrifice so much more for my child. The emotional and physical toll on your body and your brain trying to keep alive a little bean, then a little very squishy and wiggly doll that screams in your face, then a fearless jabberwocky is
incredibly hard….all consuming. Don’t even talk to me about teenage years and then when they leave the house. As this blogger points out mothers throughout time have exerted superhuman strength and even sacrificed their lives for their children. Or as this blogger demonstrates, mother’s don’t just have a lasting impact on their own children but on society as a whole.
My experience raising said jabberwocky so far is with a partner who, for the most part, lived his life the same way before as after. Talking to other new moms and dads it seems like my experience unfortunately is all too common. So, I said to myself, yes, indeed we should just move father’s day to be a half day and devote the other half to “I should be happy I’m a father appreciation training”. Subjects would include:
- Real life experience nursing a irritated teething baby who also has a bad latch. At the end of the course students should understand why saying: “Why don’t you just give him milk?” is the last thing they should be saying when mom is denying her milk.
- Scavenger hunt to find keys, wallet, cellphone, remote control, and toothbrush hidden by your own jabberwocky.
- Simulations of the emotions involved getting a child to sleep and then making sure said child is still breathing every 15 minutes afterward.
- Hormone therapy to simulate the roller coaster of pre- and post-birth brain fog, sleep deprivation, and breastfeeding.
- Realistic short films of the nightmares of everything that could possibly go wrong with your new child.
- Try to keep your clothes clean challenge: every minute you’ll get to dodge poop, food, grime, and muck coming at you at all possible angles.
And my favorite:
- The 9 hour isolation chamber. Where you get to see how loopy you are after 9 hours being in a house with one other person. But that other person is really just a volleyball and you are just talking to yourself. “Poop? Poop! Eat? Eat!” “They’re two they’re four they’re six and eight….shunting trucks….and hauling…”
Several months after I had made this conclusion a youth complained (a female youth might I add): “It really bothers me that for mother’s day, mothers get all this nice stuff and then for father’s day the dads just get crap.” Okay, she didn’t really say that last part but I don’t remember her exact phrasing just the gist of it.
It made me flash back to how much I’ve read about the importance of men in the household and how much I value
d my own father. It made me think of a book I’m listening to right now. The author writes that if we praise behavior early on in a child’s life that they are motivated to work harder at it and get better at it and then they enjoy it more. Can the same be said about fathers?
So even if the men in our lives might not be the equal partners that we wish they were in our homes should we praise them for the fact that they are still around? That they showed up? Or the .01% of the time that they put the child to bed? I guess if we praise the good, it will encourage more goodness.
Apples to Oranges
Recently I also connected another dot. I read an interesting post on Quora. It was a man talking about how it can be lonely to be a dad. The mom (her brain and body) is so focused on the children and really the children are mostly focused on the mom. That can leave the father feeling lonely. I had never thought of that before. And it made me reason that perhaps the man sacrifices in ways that aren’t as readily apparent. And yes, they are of value even if that value is different.
So okay, we’ll give them the full day. Even if they pee and shower at the frequency and rate in which they desire while you are laying here reading this on your phone as you’ve been stuck in a booby trap for the last 30 minutes and have to pee like a racehorse.
Now, what about gifts?
For my first mother’s day I got…..a horrible day. I was rather bitter that in addition to no physical or verbal gift, I felt like I was treated sub-optimally. For my first mothers day! The shame!
And what about when gifts are exchanged? Mothers get flowers, jewelry, chocolate when dads get….a snickers? Another tie? Doesn’t really seem fair. But is that weird to be so caught up in what we give to each of them?
What I’ve realized recently is that the most authentic gifts that moms and dads are given are actually quite proportional to the amount of time and effort they put into that role.
It reminds me of the ending of the story of the prodigal son. You have no idea what I’m referring to? Let me explain.
The Best Gift
Remember that story from Sunday School? Two brothers. One goes off and plays around. Spends everything. Then comes back and seems to get additional gifts-adoration from the father. The other brother who put in all the work gets worked up about it. “Hey dad! What the heck? I’ve been here this whole time working, sacrificing, sweating and I don’t get a party!”
The truth is, the hard working brother got the best gifts. He got to know and work beside his father. Learned from the best. Had years of experience from his father which is precious above whatever passing indulgence the other brother might of had. With his knowledge and experience he can go on to create more wealth and expand his father’s “kingdom”. He got to feel his father’s love daily. These gifts can’t be “spent up” like the inheritance of the other brother. They seem to be gifts that grow and develop and take on everlasting life of their own.
So, the same is to be said of mothers and fathers. The day. The gifts. Those are just passing things. The real gift is the time and love that you gain from being present in the child’s life. From giving what might seem like your all, so that your child is happy and healthy and slightly less dysfunctional then the next. My son gives me a gift every time he smiles at me, or gives me a look that I know he got from me, or grows in a small way that can only be caught by someone who knows him as well as I do.
And now, as this topic is ought to do, I must circle back and do my part. To my own mother, who even though no one else probably made it this far, is reading to the end.
I thank you.
Thank you for all of the unseen hours and tears that you put into raising me. I thank you for the things that you have not been thanked for. And I hope that I will live my life in a way that you are proud. That it can be the ultimate everlasting gift back to you. That I might smile at you more and so you can get a little rush of endorphins that make it all worth it.
Love you Mom.
Physical Gifts for New Moms
In conclusion, if you are reading this and know of a new mom, please give her encouragement and maybe a little extra help. Too often it seems that we are quick to tell moms what they are doing wrong. I’m sure she has thought of many things she is doing wrong. Maybe you can tell her something that she is doing right. Perhaps you can make her load a little lighter to carry. If you want to give an actual gift, check out this post with 20 practical gifts you can give a new mom that will make her life a little easier.
If you are a new mom reading this, just know that all those hours you put in…all those bladder full hours you put in…it makes a difference. And it is appreciated. Even if society deflates the value of it, the true worth of it is beyond measure. Perhaps your partner can’t comprehend the sacrifices made but let that go. Instead bask in the happiness and warmth of your child’s quiet precious moments. If you find yourself thinking that you are a bad mom, go here and read this. Then let me know what you think.
And for my mom, who is still reading this. Know that I now know what you knew even if you didn’t know it yourself at the time. That the worth of a mother trying her best is beyond any earthly reward (just remember this when I forget to mail a card…xxooxx).
What do you think? Have you ever thought about this? Or have had a little bit of a rough time on either holiday? Let me know! Share a comment or email me directly. I love hearing from other people and what they think.