What do moms want for Mothers Day? Well, the answer may be a surprise to some.
It isn’t candy, dinner out or breakfast in bed. According to an informal poll I took of local moms, the overwhelming answer was “time off.”
Moms want a break. They want a break from being a mom, or at least from mom-like tasks.
A close second was “a clean house.” (Many added the qualifier, “Not cleaned by me.”)
Michelle, mother of two said, “Keep your jewelry and chocolates. I want time off from ‘mom-ing’ to do my own thing. I want to be shined up and the vessel refilled to be good to go on Monday – back to the old grind of carpools and laundry.”
Another mom said, “The best Mothers Day I ever had was when my husband took the kids camping for the weekend and I had the house to myself.”
Now I realize that this might sound callous to some, as if we don’t all love and adore our children. We do. But being a mother, especially to small children, is physically and mentally exhausting. I’ve read that the average preschooler needs a parent’s attention every four minutes. That’s 180 times a day! Add a baby or toddler to the mix with the accompanying diapers, feeding, wiping of various body parts and sleep deprivation, and it’s no wonder we are all in need of a break. And it wasn’t just the moms with little ones at home; even women who have older children and teens said they wanted time off for Mothers Day.
Every couple of years, someone does an analysis of how much a stay-at-home mom would be paid if given a salary for all she does. Last year, Salary.com put that figure at $138,095 per year, based on an average work week of 92 hours. In other words, more than half of the hours worked would be considered overtime.
The working moms fared even worse. They logged an estimated 49 extra hours a week in “mom” hours on top of their jobs outside of the home. If we were executives working for a company making that kind of money, we wouldn’t dream of never taking time off – or of working 92 hours a week, for that matter.
But being a mom isn’t just a job, because we never stop being mothers. From the moment we find out we’re going to have a child, to the end of our lives, we are moms. It becomes a part our identity. And despite the hours, I think almost every mother will tell you that being a mom is the best thing they’ve ever done.
Experts tell us that mothers need to nurture themselves, that taking care of their own needs will make them better mothers.
I believe this, I truly do. It’s just hard. It‘s hard to get the time away. Sometimes, it’s even hard to take a break when it’s offered. For some reason, when we take time off just for ourselves, the mommy guilt kicks in. (Do they hand you the guilt when they hand you the baby?)
So this Mothers Day, after you collect your weed bouquet and admire your crayon-colored cards, hug your kids, then leave your guilt behind for a few hours and go do something for yourself. We can’t take a break from being moms, but we can take time to nurture the woman inside the mom. Maybe by recharging our batteries we can better enjoy this journey called motherhood.
Because, ironically, guess what the mothers of grown children in my survey said they wanted for Mothers Day?
They want to spend time with their children.
Tiffany Doerr Guerzon lives in Maple Valley. She can be reached through the Reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org