“Mom Strong” is my super power to find anything at anytime and to find a good parking space. I am also a skilled negotiator in the powerful world of middle school dude angst, most often relating to gaming.
The word Mom has power. It even strengthens the worst of the worst cuss words. An f-bomb isn’t nearly as powerful as a mother f-bomb.
The athlete sits on the bench, chest heaving from a great play, they notice the t.v. camera, and what do they say? “Hi, Mom!”
Mom’s are pretty powerful.
This is my powerful Mom. She would leave my wedding reception to go to the funeral home to mourn her twin brother. Her smile never waivered that day, such was her strength and commitment to make my day special.
I don’t know that I could attend my son’s wedding and then bury my brother the same day.
I hope I never have to find out.
Mothers are expected to be professional martyrs. Staying up late gluing school projects and then baking dozens of cookies for Grandparents day at school. We celebrate and neglect our own mental and physical health because there just isn’t time. We’ve bought into the cultural stereotype that once we are legally and physically responsible for a child that we become second.
I once agreed. I felt like I missed a class somehow, somewhen. The one where they gave out the mom instincts, softness and strength to walk through the fire and still bake cookies. My instincts have been wrong, ask my teenager and our family therapist. My softness is more around my middle because I would rather pour coffee on the fire and eat the damn cookies.
Cue a pandemic. Mothers are now expected to do ALL THE THINGS. There are two camps: the Scheduled and the Free Range.
The Scheduled have children in bed at the same time as when school was in person. Elaborate charts with coordinating stickers adorn walls. Their social media pictures include the recycling art project their sweetums did. They have gym time, and prayer time and all kinds of time because they have it scheduled…see, isn’t the chart so pretty? They also post every-single-nice-thing-they-do-for-anyone with cute hashtags #AllInThisTogether. (They can also sometimes hashtag #TooBlessedToBeStressed).
The Free Range are those who can’t remember the last time they put on a bra. They are well versed in Fortnite, Minecraft, Car Soccer and any game that occupies the kids for longer than five minutes. There are charts, the ones school sends with the weekly breakdown of instruction, but they are largely ignored (or lost in the pile of things on the kitchen table). Free Range kids show up for Zoom class bleary-eyed and scarfing down a protein bar. Pics include the same-leggings-as-last-week and the pile of dishes from the 800 meals their children eat, largely made up of pizza rolls and bagels. Hashtag? #SendMoreWine or #IsItOverYet?
Whether you are Scheduled or Free Range, this time has called upon us all for strength we didn’t know we had. We are now proficient at explaining complicated ideas like ‘social distancing’ and ‘herd immunity’. Our achievements, once focused on kids getting some award, has become changing our yoga pants and putting on earrings. On the days where no schedule or no amount of t.v. can make the marathon go any faster, we all fall into bed. We get up and do it all over again.
To all the moms out there, whether you birthed them, got them, or found them-I salute you. I want to remind you that you are amazing. You no longer have to be a martyr. You only have to be you. You are enough. Your best is all they need. And your worst isn’t doing lasting harm. How do I know this? Because I know you. I am you. And we are strong mothers.