Do you really “work” as a Mom?

Back in the day, our parents literally drove us to college, moved us in and, maybe a meal, then  headed out - pretty much all within an afternoon. They checked out the dorm room (“is this what we are paying for?”), perhaps met the RA, quick tearful goodbye and (seemingly) sped away.

They had NO idea what ‘frat party’ truly meant.  They did not comprehend the plot behind “ladies get in free”. 

There were no programs for the parents - to introduce them to your major or what your life would be like on campus.  I guess they just imagined or didn’t really think about it…

A lot has changed since then. Today’s parents of college students are definitely more clued-in.  Certainly from their own experience.  But also from the programs colleges offer now, including the onboarding for parents.  There are move-in day gatherings, meetings by major, Facebook pages, email groups, etc.

The day we moved our son into freshman year all of these options were front and center.  I chose to go to the parents meeting which talked about the business school and what it would be like for them from classes, to group projects, opportunities and the overall mission.

They gathered us into groups by table, so we could discuss some topics.  But the real fun started when we were instructed to build the highest tower we could with the straws and string provided on the table.  We were told our students would be doing this the second day in class as well.  

It was interesting to chat with parents who were in the exact same boat or shared the same perspective or perhaps a little nervousness as well.

Except for one dad.  That one guy. His point of view and comments were ridiculous, grating, full out nails on chalkboard.

He was there by himself because his wife was actually “working” for the first time ever, he says.  “Oh,” we replied, “what does she do?”  He informs us, “she has started teaching.  After 20 years of being ‘off’, she’s now going work.  I guess she was basically retired and how is ‘un-retiring’ and contributing.” 

So much wrong with that statement and mindset— where to even start.  I wanted to barrage him with questions that would lead him down a path of revelation that his sweet wife was not “off.”  She was actually, all those years, working her butt “off.”  Do you know the cost, if you had to outsource and actually pay for her labor?  What kind of attitude is that to not validate 20 years of that mom’s life dedicated to caring for and serving her family?!?

I was triggered…ok, defensive.  Ok, sensitive.

But as I started asking —  “has she stayed home to raise your children for no pay or recognition?” — it dawned on me…. 

Why correct him?  He clearly didn’t hold space for that in this moment based on his comments.

I suddenly yearned to talk to HER.  

About her amazing contribution.  

About launching her children to college.

About owning her amazing accomplishments.  Her worthiness, that does not attach to transactional dollars at all.  

I wanted to tell her I honor her for showing up - wiping all those butts & noses, enduring the tantrums, getting through those days she thought she never would.  

At minimum she was an equal partner in all that it took to get to this point.  I just wanted her to be seen and appreciated, maybe like never before.

On this day, this guy, reminded me — whether we feel appreciated by others for the mom-job we do day in and day out or not, it really all starts with ourselves.  Appreciating ourselves first, acknowledging our vast contribution and using the language that clearly honors that job is where it’s at.

I honor you, mamas.  Thanks for all you do. Hopefully I’m not the only one who told you that today.

Remember to say it to yourself. Daily.

Talking about this and more, check out The Perfect Cupcake, A Momoir on Amazon.  It digs in to this and more— much deeper!

Lynn BodnarComment