We’ve been working on manners in our house lately. I have two girls, aged three and one, so you can imagine the lists of demands I receive on a minute-by-minute basis as their mother and assumed servant.
So far it’s been going ok. I mean, when the one-year-old can’t find the word for the giant bowl full of danger she so desperately needs, she just repeats “peas, peas, peas, peas” over and over. Which is a nice (and much cuter) change from that whiny, grunty noise she generally employs. So there’s that.
And the three-year-old is catching on so well that I tried to get her to add “Mommy Queen of the Universe” after her expected “Please” last night when she asked me to pass her milk. The idea didn’t quite land, but it did leave her speechless for an entire three seconds, which is a success in it’s own right, giving me enough quiet time to think about why I suggested the new title in the first place.
And why I asked for it again after the expected “Thank you.”
Because I’m a mom, and Mother’s Day is coming up, a day dedicated to the recognition of mothers and mother-type-figures everywhere. A day to give that grand gesture of thanks in the form of a bouquet of grocery store flowers or burned toast in bed.
Because let’s be honest here, parenting is mostly a pretty thankless job. I was thinking that precise thought last week when I had to pull the car over in the badlands fifteen minutes into an hour-long drive with the kids because my three-year-old had to poop. Actually, I should re-phrase that. My three-year-old thought she had to poop. I know now, after a good five to ten minutes of bending over to hold her in a hover-squat-like position as I sheepishly waved to one pickup after another pulling into the not-as-discreet-as-I-thought oil-site approach and she counted the ants crawling up my pant leg, that she actually probably wanted to see what would happen if she said it. That or she just had to toot.Either way, she saved her real emergency for when we were five bites into our park picnic without an unlocked bathroom in site. Turns out baby girl can hold it like a champ, and for that I am thankful.
But is she thankful for me and the swift way I scooped her and her little sister up and headed to the nearest gas station, doing my best to coach her in the clenching technique? I suppose when I tell her this story ten years from now, she will be. Maybe she’ll include her praise of thanks in her five-page, single-spaced, double sided, Mother’s Day letter of appreciation to me. But the three-year-old version of my daughter doesn’t really know how to be grateful. She just expects me to be there in times of turmoil and false alarms, big or small, because I’m her momma, and that’s what mommas do.
And I love that I get to do it. And I (mostly) love that right now, there’s never a dull moment.
But if we’re being truthful here, if you ask us mommas what we want for Mother’s Day, we will first say a nap (Betsy’s contribution in this issue confirms this theory) and then, if we’re really being honest, we secretly want that five-page, single-spaced, double-sided, Mother’s Day letter of appreciation—or some version of it, with a side of coffee and pancakes. We want it from our children, if they can write, but we also want it from our parenting partners.
Because this gig is hard. And we’re overwhelmed a lot of the times. And we’re wondering if we’re doing it right, if we’re screwing it all up. We’re kicking ourselves for forgetting about picture day and not serving enough vegetables and locking ourselves in the bathroom so we can have a moment to talk to the doctor’s office without the kids screaming and hanging on our legs because one of them has an ear infection. Again. And we’re worried.
And a bit scared.
And sometimes all the things we feel on the inside make us feel alone. And a little invisible.
So we want that letter. Or those flowers. Or that card that lets someone else say it so you and the kids can sign it, so that we know that you know.
That you see us. And you see that we’re doing our best to keep the poops in the potty (or on the side of the road) where they belong.
And on Mother’s Day, we just want to hear those manners we so dutifully try to pass on. Peas. Peas. Peas.
Thank you, thank you, thank you Queen of the Universe.
And I love you.
Happy Mother’s Day Prairie Parents. May you get that nap.