Happy Mothers' Day to all of you who celebrate it!
Stuart asked me yesterday what I want to do for Mothers' Day, and I responded, "I don't know. Whatever I want."
My intentions were to keep my expectations low and do what I want for the day. I called my mom, got some knitting done, listened to a couple of podcasts, started a quilt project, vacuumed the rug, and didn't do a speck of laundry. Did the kids let me sleep past 6am? Nope. Did they give me a pile of sweet cards and some chocolates (with prompting from their father)? Yup. Did I help make breakfast? Yes, but only because I chose to. Did I make lunch? No, because I chose not to. Did I make dinner? Yes, but not without help, and since I had a craving for bibimbap, it was wise to take the lead on that one. (Was it worth it? Yes. I think cooking is fun and I don't mind doing it on Mothers' Day; I also don't mind that my husband voluntarily cleaned up afterwards...there was a lot of kimchi juice spilled on the table...) Boring to you, maybe, but a good day in my book.
I've been thinking today about the ways becoming a parent has changed my life so profoundly. I have learned valuable lessons about patience and tolerance and adaptation I never would have learned otherwise. I have become close to some amazing, incredible people (parents, grandparents, children, teachers) I never would have encountered would it not for the preschool and elementary school communities my children have been a part of. I am much, much more aware of societal and cultural issues now than the time before my children were in public school. For all of this I am grateful.
I am also aware that most of the friendships I had a decade ago have lapsed, that my career path took a sharp fork into a narrow, rocky trail rather than an open road once I got pregnant with Daniel, that everyone I encounter judges me and my place in my profession as a mother. Whether they mean to do it or not, or whether they mean well by it or not, it still happens. Also, while I feel like I work an awful lot, my earning power is meagre because I am the one who bears most of the responsibility for housework and childcare around here, and that this is not projected to change for the next several years while my children are living at home and need someone to take care of them. I know that I'm lucky to have a supportive spouse with a stable job. Not every mother has this, goodness knows. For this, I am also grateful.
But I want to take this day to acknowledge the unfair workload assigned to mothers here and throughout the world. We bear the brunt of child rearing and housework. We sacrifice wages to care for our families. We often give up sleep and financial security in exchange for time raising our children. We do it out of love, yes, but also necessity. We don't always do this because we are inherently good or more nurturing or better at it than men. We do it because usually we don't have a choice, because it's the only way we can get through this year, and next year and maybe the next.
I am happy with my life. I am grateful for my children. I am also aware of the things I have potentially given up because I had children when I did. I wouldn't change anything right now, but at the same time, I dare you to think about your mother and her potential and how that changed when she had you and your siblings (if you have any). Take a moment and thank her, even if you can't do it in person, for your life and your possibilities.