Published May 10, 2009
Let’s celebrate this special day for all those Moms-in-ChiefTHE OLYMPIAN
I love Mother’s Day. It’s the one time of the year that we officially celebrate some of the hardest-working women in the world. Like many parents, I suppose, the holiday took on new meaning and purpose when our oldest child was born. I went from buying cute, funny cards and the proverbial bouquet of flowers for my mom to really reflecting on the amount of work my mom has done over the years and looking for gifts that demonstrated honest gratitude for that work. Lately, I’ve been thinking about all of the important, often unglamorous, duties that fall under the job title of Mom. Here are a few of my favorites. Feel free to add more at www.theolympian.com/busymama. Chief financial officer: In many households, Mom handles all of the bills. And if the budget is tight, moms often go without to make sure their children’s needs are met. In our family, most of my CFO duties involve major purchases (grocery and household shopping) and long-term investments (college funds). Meanwhile, our electricity stays on, we have vehicles to drive, and the bank hasn’t evicted us, thanks to my husband’s stellar accounting skills and attention to details. Medic: When there’s a scraped knee or other kid injury, Mom is usually first on the scene to apply ice, tickling bubbles (aka hydrogen peroxide) and Band-Aids. In many households, including ours, Mom also makes the determination of whether an incident or illness requires a visit to the emergency room. That’s always a minimum three-hour commitment – and one that often ends with vague determinations such as “It’s a virus and there isn’t medicine that we can prescribe that will help” or “We cleaned it and put a sterile bandage on it, but you should probably follow up with your pediatrician if you have any more concerns.” Count on most ER trips taking place on busy weekends, major holidays and whenever Mom has special plans or an important work engagement. Restaurateur: Until kids get old enough to cook their own macaroni and cheese and help out with dishes, most moms work as the chef, hostess, waitress, bartender and bus staff. I’m not big on cooking, so I often outsource this type of work to fast-food restaurants and companies that make Lunchables and Kids Cuisine frozen meals. Transportation specialist: To and from school, sports practices and games, dance classes and recitals. Moms spend a lot of time schlepping kids around in the car. Many of my friends can’t wait until their children are old enough for driver’s licenses. They see it as more independence for them as well – not to mention that driving privileges provide some of the best leverage for behavior management. Janitor: Once upon a time, we had a tidy, dust-free home. We also had a dual income, prime rib every Friday, and no children. I admire moms who can keep up their homes and raise children. I’m just not one of those moms, at least not yet. Administrative assistant: From doctor and dentist appointments to parent-teacher conferences, most moms manage enough kid-related events to fill two or three DayPlanner calendars. My planner was once jam-packed with appointments for interviews and story deadlines. These days, it also includes a mix of late-start and early-dismissal school times, kids’ birthday parties and extra-curricular activities. Head of complaint department: “He keeps looking at me.” “Sissy’s not sharing.” “I don’t like that kind of cheese.” Those are just a few of the complaints that were filed with our complaint department tonight before dinner. My policy is that I’ll listen to a complaint, but just like many public agencies and large corporations, I reserve the right not to take any action. By the way, the cheese complaint was revoked after our preschooler tasted his sandwich. Chief negotiator: Sometimes, when the going gets tough, this mom uses smoothies as an incentive for good behavior. I’m not saying it’s the right thing to do. In fact, it’s probably going to blow up in my face, give my kids eating issues and ruin my daughter’s dream wedding because I bought smoothies instead of socking away $15 a week for her future nuptials. But I also know that it is an effective way to get kids to behave in the grocery store, doctor offices and other places where other adults give me the stink-eye for having rambunctious rugrats. Counselor and life coach: Of all the job duties for a mom, this one is most important to me. It’s also the most intimidating. There are ways to cut corners in the other parts of parenting – whether it’s buying fast food, hiring a maid, or letting a child-care provider keep track of changes in a school schedule. But nurturing a child and helping them grow into a responsible, independent adult? That takes quite a bit of skill and determination. I want my kids to know they can do anything that they set their minds to. I also want them to learn how to work out their problems, and live life to its fullest. When it comes to this role, I look to my mom for guidance. She is a journeyman; I’m her apprentice.