I took this picture on a recent hike and didn‘t think twice about it. I was going through my camera roll and it struck me differently. Tay usually writes the blog posts around here, but since it’s Mother’s Day, I wanted to try and write down how this picture makes me feel.
There’s something about Mother’s Day 2020 that emphasizes the true “superhero” qualities that all great moms possess. These qualities have never been more salient to me than during this COVID-19 pandemic. Since Taylor and I started our family together six and a half years ago with our son, Mason, I fell into the role as the primary “breadwinner.” For years, I’ve worked 50-60 hours a week at my day job and up until last year, I bartended 3 to 4 nights a week for extra income. I consider myself a hard working guy. My work ethic has helped define who I am. I’ve been promoted and recognized for it again and again.
Then as a result of the pandemic I was laid off at the end of March. Getting up and going to work is all I had known and suddenly I was told to stay home and “social distance.” I was incredibly fortunate to be home with my whole family healthy, safe, and secure. I thought to myself, “Wow, I get to stay home ALL DAY and get paid for it? What am I going to do? I guess I finally have time to work on the house! Sure, I’ll have to help out with the kids and household chores, but that’s easy compared to what I usually do at work…
Fast-forward six weeks to Mother’s Day. Six weeks of helping Tay prepare three meals a day and supplying a thousand snacks in between. Six weeks of doing endless piles of laundry. Six weeks of sweeping/vacuuming the floor only to have to do it again a few hours later. Six weeks of battling, negotiating, bribing, and even pleading with my children to get them to pick up a mountain of Legos or a pile of Pokémon cards. Six weeks of listening to “I’m bored!” “Mason hit me!” “Veda started it!” “I’m hungry!” “I’m not tired!” “Can I play on the iPad?” “Can I watch TV?” “I don’t like chicken!” Six weeks of saying or more often yelling “It’s time to pick up now!” “You just had a snack 10 minutes ago.” “Mason please stop teasing your sister!” “Veda let go of your brother’s hair!” “Please get your pajamas on and brush your teeth!” “Are you listening to anything I say?” Now don’t get me wrong, my kids are amazingly well behaved. They’re smart, they’re funny, and they have incredible personalities. For every 10 times they make me want to scream and pull my hair out there are a million times that make me the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.
I can recall times I would come home from work and I could tell Tay was exhausted. But nonetheless she’d power through her fatigue and have a hot, delicious dinner ready for the family. She’d make everyone else a plate and then finally attempt to sit down for a quick bite but without fail as soon as one cheek grazed the chair she’d be bombarded with requests and comments like, “Mom, can I have more spaghetti?” “Mom, I need more water!” “Mom, what’s this little green stuff?” “Mom, I don’t like this can I have cereal instead?” Even I would chime in “Babe can you grab me a drink while you’re up?” Then we would finish up our dinner while we reviewed the days events and before I knew it she’d have the entire kitchen cleaned, our children in their pajamas with their teeth brushed and be ready to read them a book before bed. All the while she’d listen to me talk about work or whatever was on my mind. She’d validate my feelings while simultaneously folding her fifth load of laundry and mentally preparing the grocery shopping list for the next day. Did I mention she also works part-time doing social media marketing for a local restaurant, publishes Berkshires Macaroni Kid, and creates everything Berkshire Family Hikes?
Being at home in the trenches with Tay for the past six weeks has shown a new light on what a mother endures on a daily basis. You see, it’s not about the fact that she can multi-task better than me, or that she’s a master organizer and incredibly good at budgeting her time. It’s not the fact that she’s more patient, more disciplined, and more resilient than I am. It’s that she doesn’t require credit or recognition to stay consistent. Remember in the opening paragraph when I said “I’ve been promoted and recognized” as a direct result of my work ethic? The recognition drives and motivates me as an employee to keep growing. But what if all my hard work was never recognized? What if it was just expected? Studies have shown that eventually an employee will develop a resentful attitude and regress. It’s human nature.
But how often is a mother promoted or recognized for the way she loves and takes care of her children/family? For the way she packs her child’s lunch box for school or helps them with their homework? Our society says “You chose to have a child so it’s your responsibility to raise it. You should be helping your kid with his/her homework. It’s part of being a parent.” This is true, but I would argue that we also should recognize our mothers for what they do every. single. day. without fail. For their super-powers – altruism and unconditional love. Somehow it has become a seamless part of “mother” nature, one that is too often overlooked.
You see, moms don’t stop being moms when they are taken for granted. They just keep on loving and doing what needs to be done. They are the most unappreciated people in our society. How come there has never been a viral video of a mother simply tucking her kids into bed? That should get more “views” or “likes” than any video out there! But unfortunately it doesn’t. And I’m as guilty as the next person.
If you had asked me six weeks ago what I see when I look at this picture I would say something like “Snack time on the trail.” But when I look at this picture today I see so much more. I see all that led up to this beautiful moment. I see Tay helping Mason and Veda get dressed for the hike. I see Tay packing their snacks and filling up their water bottles. I see a mother spending quality time with her most prized possessions. I see my own mother putting in the work of raising me for the past 33 years and counting. I see all loving mothers who do their best each and every day.
Usually when we go on our weekly hikes Tay takes all the pictures. As a result, she’s absent from the bulk of photos. For some reason I grabbed the camera that day and I’m so lucky that I did. I got to see and capture the essence of Motherhood. I think the perfect caption for this photo is “Super Mom in Her Element.”
I want to recognize and wish every unappreciated mother who has dedicated their life to raising their children a Happy Mother’s Day. They say to look for the silver lining in a bad situation. If it wasn’t for COVID-19, I would never have had this opportunity to spend so much time with my family and see it from a different perspective. I’m making it a point to be more aware of what truly matters as I navigate forward. I hope the world can find and hang on to a more positive shift in perspective as well. I wish you all health and happiness.
Happy Mother’s Day to all you superheroes out there!