Thank you, Mom

Dear Mom,

Today is Mother’s Day and I didn’t get you anything. Not even a card. And I’m not sorry. It was suggested that I order some flowers for you but I couldn’t do that after what I wrote just a few days ago without being a complete hypocrite. Mother’s Day isn’t about giving your mom flowers or jewelry any more than Father’s Day is about giving your dad a new tie or tool. I’ve come to realize it’s about showing genuine appreciation in honoring someone who has loved me since before I was born and continues to love and support me to this day.

As a child I don’t think I ever really appreciated the hard work and sacrifices you made in order to make my childhood so enjoyable and positive. As the stay at home parent these last 13 years I’ve really grown to understand the enormity of what you did for us. I know it wasn’t always easy or enjoyable for you but I loved having you as my mom. I know that you sacrificed your career to be at home. Thank you for providing the loving environment which allowed us kids to grow and thrive. I can’t speak for my siblings, but I’m glad that you were home with us. While I’m pretty sure you weren’t perfect, I can’t remember a time where you ever lost your patience with us or even yelled at us. And I’m certain that we were angels pretty challenging at times. Remember that time I got Dave and Liz to race around the house but had them crash into each other on purpose? Or when you were in the kitchen and we kids were in the living room slapping our own legs and chests so loudly that you came in ready to punish us for fighting only to find us laughing? Yeah. Sorry. But thanks for being patient with us.

Because of you I have a treasure trove of amazing childhood stories to tell my own kids. Possibly my favorite childhood memory is coming home from school to find the aroma of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies wafting through the air the moment I opened the front door. I’d set my backpack down and hurry into the kitchen to give you a hug before scarfing down a dozen, give or take. To this day I think of you every time I make cookies with and for my kids. I hope that they will have positive cookie memories like I do. Even if sometimes I recount the time that my 4 year old brother put some of his chewed gum inside a cookie dough ball and I ate the baked result. Good times.

I always knew that you loved me and were proud of me. I have a distinct memory of you telling me in church one Sunday when I was maybe 10-11 that you liked my singing. Ever since that day, no matter what anyone else might say about my voice, I feel the confidence of your words. Thank you for that boost of confidence, Mom. You were so encouraging in whatever I wanted to do. When Dad didn’t see the merit in my desire to become a teacher you encouraged me to follow my heart, saying that you could see how I’d make a great teacher, citing the example of how I taught my younger sister how to throw a football with a tight spiral. A few years later you were one of my biggest supporters in my decision to quit teaching and become a Stay At Home Dad. Thank you for believing in me when most others doubted.

Finally, thank you, Mom, for being my friend. As a child I never really appreciated you as a person other than “mom”. As an adult and parent myself I have a different perspective. Yes, you’re (obviously) still my mother, but that’s not all. You’re my friend. I love doing stuff with you. I’m glad that we were able to go to a couple of incredible Wisconsin Badgers football games together. Remember that win against #1 ranked Ohio State and how we got to go on the field after the win? UW OSU in stands

Or watching Russell Wilson lead a 4th quarter comeback as Wisconsin won the first Big Ten Championship in 2011? Those big games and wonderful memories associated with them pale in comparison to the many phone calls and in person visits we’ve shared over the years. Going to games and other places or events are nice, but a true relationship and friendship is so much more valuable. Thank you for all of your advice, encouragement, love and support over the years. Even though we’re separated by almost 2,000 miles I don’t know if I’ve ever felt closer to you, Mom. Thanks for all you’ve done for me. I love you. I hope you’re not upset about a lack of card.

Carl

Don’t Wish Me a “Happy Mother’s Day”

Over each of the past 13 years that I’ve been a Stay At Home Dad there’s been at least one person every year who thinks it’s funny to wish me “Happy Mother’s Day, Mr. Mom”. Here’s the scoop. It’s. Not. Funny. The first few times I heard that I laughed at it, in the same way that I laughed at being called a “Mr. Mom”. More cringing than laughing. Then, after it happened a few times I began to think about why it was insulting to moms and dads for me, a dad, to be wished a “Happy Mother’s Day”. This day celebrates moms. All moms. Those who choose to work at home as full time moms and those who choose to work full time outside of the home. And any combination in between. Retired moms. Expecting moms. You get the picture. Just because I have chosen to work in a role that has been traditionally filled by women doesn’t make me a mom. I’m still a dad. And my wife is still a mom.

My friend that I met at the National At Home Dad Network annual convention last October, Mike Andrews, Jr., blogger at Geek Daddio of 4, put into words very nicely what I wanted to say. Check out his full blog entry, Mother’s Day: A day for moms. Not dads. Here’s a quote from that piece.

We handle every aspect of the house while our amazing wives do what needs to be done to ensure there is food in our mouths and clothes on our backs. But I ask this one simple question, Since when does Mother’s Day mean Homemakers Day?

Exactly…It doesn’t

To me, it seems that by giving an at home dad a Mother’s Day gift you are just slapping both, moms and dads, in the face. You are saying, “Dads, you are not man enough and working moms you are not womanly enough because you don’t stay at home.” And that is just wrong. Moms deserve Mother’s Day. It is their day to relax and forget about their problems while the kids serve them. It is a day to honor our mothers and just our mothers. At home dads have their own day, would you give a working mom a Father’s Day card because she is doing a mans job?

In essence, I’m asking you to help end the tired and worn out stereotyping of us SAHDs. It’s 2014. Not 1950. Mr. Mom is dead. Besides, this holiday is all about celebrating and honoring mothers. Happy Mother’s Day!

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Boycott Mother’s Day?

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It’s that time of year again where we’re all reminded to pay homage to moms. There’s even a whole day set aside in one week to recognize how fantastic and wonderful and perfect and amazing moms are and how lucky we are to have them in our lives. While it’s true that none of us would be here if not for our mothers, I find the whole idea of “Mother’s Day” to be quite ridiculous and contrived. Sure, the idea of stopping and showing appreciation for the countless hours and unconditional love is nice. Maybe it’s even something moms look forward to. I know for sure that Hallmark and Kay Jewelers are among the many businesses that pressure us to show our moms (or wives) how much they are appreciated by showering them with cards and expensive gifts and maybe even a special dinner that mom doesn’t have to prepare. But, why? Why only one day in May? I’m not suggesting that we have “Mother’s Day” multiple times each year. What I’m suggesting is that we show our appreciation and love more than one time each year.

How about instead of buying into the commercial aspect of the day we show true appreciation? Write her a letter. (Email doesn’t count.) Take mom for a walk in a park to look at the flowers while you engage in conversation. Make a photo collage or book and give it to her. Don’t buy her flowers or jewelry now (stores jack the prices now for suckers like us). Wait until some other random time (or times) and surprise her with flowers and a note of thanks. Do make her a nice dinner at home. Don’t overpay at some crowded restaurant. Take her out for dinner some other time. If you must eat out, maybe get it to go and make it a picnic at a park. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on your mom but you do need to spend your time with her. Celebrate her and help her to know how much you appreciate her. But don’t just do it next Sunday and then wait a whole year to do it again. I assure you that it won’t get old if you do it over and over and over…as long as you mean it. Thank you, moms, for all you do. You are loved and appreciated by this guy.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that anyone actually boycott celebrating Mother’s Day. Like most holidays (Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, etc.) it is the over-the-top commercialization in our culture that I’m railing against. Mothers deserve our highest honor and respect all year long and they don’t need a necklace to prove it…just like I don’t need a tie or some other kitchy thing to prove my worth on Father’s Day.

 

Moms-What do YOU think? Did I get it right or am I way off base? Please let me know. I genuinely am interested in your comments.

You won’t believe what my 14 year old posted on Facebook

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Yesterday afternoon my 14 year old daughter made me so proud to be her father that I’m going to tell you about it right now. Call it a “humble brag” if you want, but reading what she posted as her status on Facebook yesterday brought a tear to my eye for not only the truth in what she wrote but also because it’s the kind of leadership that I want for my children to embrace.

Here’s her status:

It honestly makes me so mad when I see people commenting on pictures telling their friends that they look Autistic. It makes me sad what our generation has come to. It’s as if people have no respect anymore for those who really are Autistic. Seriously, just put yourself in another person’s shoes. Think about how they would feel if they saw someone mocking the way they look. Think before you make the comment, because what you say really does hurt people. I don’t care if it was meant to be funny, it’s just not okay. Kids my age are always wondering why adults don’t have as much respect for them anymore, and this is why. Making fun of other people is not cool or funny, nor does it make you any more popular. It just puts people down and makes them lose respect for you. It also makes the many people who can see it lose respect for you. THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK. Sorry about the rant. I just thought it needed to be said.

To those of you with young children I want to encourage you to really think about the message that you’re sending them every time you open your mouth. They’re watching and listening and learning from your example. They’re also watching to see if you stand up for people who don’t fit within society’s awfully narrow definition of “normal”. Perhaps they will be encouraged and empowered to stand up for others in the face of potential backlash from their own peers. I remember a banner that used to hang at a school where I used to teach. It’s message was clear and very applicable to what my daughter did.

Doing what it popular isn’t always right. Doing what is right isn’t always popular.

Unlike many jobs where you can see tangible results of your efforts or your supervisor gives you an annual review, being a Stay At Home Dad (or Mom) requires a LOT of patience. You have to embrace the notion of delayed gratification and have faith that what you’re doing as a parent is going to work out well (or at least not screw up your kid so much that therapy can’t undo it). So, for me it’s a pretty big deal to see my daughter put such a post on her page where her friends can see it. I want my kids to be kind, considerate and compassionate people who are willing to be leaders when necessary. In this case, my daughter saw something written on Facebook and, unlike many of her peers, didn’t turn the other way and keep on scrolling. She stood up for what she knew was right and spoke the truth. Way to go!