Friday, June 1, 2012

On Being "Mom" and Being Mom

So, all of you basically know me well enough to know that I am everybody's Mom.  This is not a particularly fun or attractive quality, but I kind of like it because everybody needs that person who has an extra pen, who will go get you what you need when you don't feel well, and who listens to you when you are upset, no matter where or how old they are.  It is even a bit selfish- I like to feel needed.

However, in the past little while, I have been a lot more than "Mom." Because I am home and not busy (and interested in getting my family to eat more vegetarian food), I have been preparing dinner.  And let me tell you, dinner takes work.  Grocery shopping isn't easy, and you have a whirlwind of decisions coming at you- calorie count, nutrients, price, brand, organic, local, is it in season, do I have a coupon?  There are too many things to consider, and that's just when you can spend the entire day in your pjs on facebook until you get up to go to the store.

Today, I was Mom for real (minus that full-time job thing) because my mom is in El Salvador.  I tried and failed at getting up early enough to get our health case of a dog everything she needed on time, so I had to watch her guiltily all day to make sure she felt all right, I cleaned my kitchen, exercised, and I headed to the grocery store.

I was buying both family basics and ingredients for three brand new meals.  I spent like a year in the vegetables section "Where is the garlic?" "What even IS a green onion?" (Thank God for smartphones.) "Do we already have this at home?" "Should I be checking prices?" "I want to buy it organic, but do we have the cash?" It took me darn near an hour, complete with crisis over how I was going to ever do this when I started my simple full time job this summer, much less how I was going to feed my children healthfully when I have them.

I came home exhausted, thankful my Dad was going to cook dinner, and had to cajole my sister into helping put things away.  After a brief rest that was dinner, we commenced (all together) to clean the kitchen.

Then, I volunteered to take my little sister to the store to buy some shorts, which she needed.  It was a Friday night, so I assumed all would be well, but she had a project to get back and work on, so by the time I was finished trying on my items (everything, especially shopping) takes me a long time, she was so angry she was nearly yelling, and she described feeling sick.  Her anger at me made me feel unappreciated and nearly ruined our time together.

And I finally understood what everyone tells me I am going to understand years from now.  It is damn hard being a Mom.  (Especially my mom, who works a full time job and does more than this daily.)  To be a "good" Mom is a full time job (I will probably write about that and my difficulties with wanting a career and children at some point).  And I don't think that is even the problem.  Because Moms do what they need to do.  They step up to the plate when no one else has because if they don't, kids will go hungry, not get to practice, wear old clothes, and probably throw a fit.  I think the problem is, at least in my house, that it is a thankless task for which they do not get help.

No one thinks to thank Mom for keeping the household running- households just run.  Even when I think about the things I admire about my mother, the fact that all of our lives run more or less smoothly almost entirely under her guidance is not usually one of them.  But that isn't easy at all.

And though, "You shouldn't have to be asked," is one of my mother's favorite phrases, we do all have to be asked to help out.  And even then, we are reluctant.  We say just a minute, hold on, or no.  And the problem really isn't the lack of help in terms of the fact that it gives our moms more work.  The help is a gesture.  The help says, "I know you are working hard.  I want to try to make it easier."  And the gesture is not there.  Being a mom can be lonely and tiring, and I've only done it for like half a day!

When we are being busy and self-centered, it is the hardest thing in the world to help.  But now I know that Moms don't have time to be self-centered.  To read? To keep a blog? To maintain friendships?  It is amazing that they can go from full time job to full time job to rest.  Thank your Mom.  Or better yet, help her.  She deserves it.

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