Saturday, December 1, 2012

Still Giving Thanks

I work a lot. I work outside the home. I work inside the home. I do mission work and retail work. I work at school. Sometimes I work on my attitude. I work within a budget and I work out (not that you can tell) but nothing, in my opinion, is as difficult as the work load of a mother.

Parenthood is undoubtedly the most important thing I do. It is a task I take extremely seriously, and it’s the one thing I think I most often find myself second guessing my job performance. Sometimes I joke that my "9 to 5" job is easier than being at home. I cram more chores, conversation and conflict into the few hours we are all home every night, than I do all day long. No wonder I collapse into my bed every evening.

Recently I left my motherhood post to take a trip. I had the extreme pleasure of visiting Central Europe to bring parent education seminars to some incredibly impoverished areas. I left the helm to my darling husband who, I gotta tell ya, really stepped up to the plate.

It’s not easy for anyone, mother or father, to parent 24/7, but special accolades go out to my guy who single-parented our five children for nine days. And he didn’t just do it; he did it well. There were no trips to the Emergency Room. The house was in near perfect condition and the pantry still had food in it. He’s a swell guy.

I could not have planned a trip of such great proportion without the love and support of my spouse and others. And that got me thinking about how much support we parents need. I am feeling much gratitude for the people in my life who, whether they play a big or small role, support me in a way that makes the motherload a little lighter.

It is not good for any of us to feel alone. I am very lucky to have a number of individuals who know me. Who listen to me, dine, drink and laugh with me. It is in safe conversations with close friends that I've unloaded some of my burdens only to find they are more than willing to help pick up the weight. When I've felt lost, down or alone their hugs and words of affirmation have pulled me through the dark, difficult days. My girlfriends have helped me be true to myself and in doing so have released me to be a better me. And a better me makes for a better mother.

Likewise, there are some people in life you can call on for a favor. Need your medicine picked up? A costume altered or a babysitter in a pinch? These folks are priceless. They mean the world to me for they are self-sacrificing, loving individuals who offer a unique form of support. A network of such people is truthfully sometimes hard to come by and those of us who have these folks on speed idal in our cell phones should realize how blessed we are.

In addition I am grateful for the care and concern I've always experienced at my children's schools. We've been in the district for thirteen years and no matter what building my children attended, I've always sensed that the staff has had the best intentions for us. Prior to leaving on my trip I asked counselors, teachers and secretaries to keep an extra close eye on my kids. I needed to know someone was aware they might have some extra needs in my absence. Every person I asked to help out made a point, upon my return, to express how well the kids did while I was gone. What a relief! How thankful I am for the built in network our local schools has to offer.

Sadly, we are not so lucky to live near family. Our tribe relies heavily on Facebook and email to keep family in the loop of holiday happenings and school functions. We don't visit Grandpa's house and aunts, uncles or cousins won't be attending any of our games or concerts. My children will never know what it's like to look out in the crowd and see the loving face of Nana applauding their efforts. If you have these experiences I pray you cherish them. Multigenerational support is often lost in our big, wide world. If you have family, and you love each other, be thankful.

That's the message of today's ramblings. Be thankful. Even though the official holiday for giving thanks is behind us I can only hope that as we approach the blessed Christmas season you take the time to recognize and extend your gratitude for all the friends, networks and support you have in this parenting journey. Because we need everyone; close friends, faithful spouses, teachers, babysitters, neighbors and coworkers in our life. For each supports us in good and separate ways. If we compile all that love and support we will find that our load can be lightened and parenting less perilous. So express your gratitude generously today. Why? Because I’m the mother and I said so! That’s why!

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