Barry County moms get real ahead of Mother’s Day

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Local mother of 7: ‘You don’t ever turn off being a mom’

Between the work day, cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry, to-do lists, social calendar, schoolwork, birthdays, entertainment, extracurricular events, scraped knees, doctor’s appointments, bills, story-reading, nightly eat-your-vegetables pleadings, sibling rivalry, teeth-brushing, story time, hugs and kisses, counseling sessions and all the details in between, mothers jump buildings in a single bound, working hard to give of themselves to raise good children and to make a house a home.

The saying, ‘A mother’s work never ends,’ confirms there is no punch clock for this job as moms are perpetually ‘on call,’ keeping everything, and everyone, in-line and on track.

For all these reasons, mothers are due some respect — not just on Mother’s Day, but every day, for all that they do.

But what’s most important to keep up with, says mother of two Beth Hudson, one in primary and one in intermediate school, is connecting with your child.

“Most moms work, so you’ve got to balance your work, family and extracurricular activities, but you want to spend time with your kids, not just while you’re driving them to ball practice,” she said.

Hudson feels lack of time is one of the biggest challenges moms face today — time to spend with their children, time for themselves and keeping up with the digital age and children’s safety, online and off.

“Day-to-day, there’s always more to do, and from a life perspective, you’re always a mom,” she said. “There’s a plethora of social media to keep up with, which not all is good. Our parents didn’t have to constantly monitor the content their children were watching on television or online.”

With quilting circles long-extinct, and few face-to-face outlets for women to connect, mothers without support systems are at risk of facing parenting challenges alone, and as popular as Facebook and Twitter may be, they do not satisfy the need for human contact.

“The digital connection is not the same as sitting across from someone,” Hudson said. “It’s not the same.”

Moms may perform Herculean tasks, but they’re also human, so to prevent burnout, Hudson suggests moms carve out time for themselves, too.

“You have do something every day, or every couple of days that you enjoy, whether it’s reading a book, watching a favorite show or sewing,” she said. “Especially with single mothers who have additional challenges, because they’re ‘everything.’ Are the dishes that important? No, they will be there tomorrow, so it’s about prioritizing. Everyone has to find what works for them.”

On Mother’s Day, Hudson’s family makes it special.

“A lot of times, the kids will make me something or draw a picture or make a card,” she said.

For Jamie Morris, mother of seven, ages eight weeks to 12 years, Mother’s Day is cause to celebrate.

“It’s the epitome of celebrating that I get to be a part of my children’s lives and influence who they become,” she said. “That special day they remember that mom’s there and takes care of them.”

Some of her most memorable gifts are not store-bought, but ones her children made.

“I think some of the most special gifts are when they find things they have to give you, or write a special note,” she said. “And just the thought that they want to recognize and surprise me. It’s not from a store, but it’s all ‘them.’”

Whether a mother of one or seven, Morris agrees a mother’s work never ends.

“You don’t ever turn off being a mom,” she said. “It’s a 24-hour job. Sometimes, it’s exhausting. And just remembering you’re a person outside of motherhood, and to keep doing your best be a good parent and give them what you need, after you’ve expended all of yourself, but you still have to be for them. It’s easy to become a mom, but not easy to be on a day-to-day basis, and that’s where the challenge comes, but the rewards, also.”

Morris credits her husband for support.

“I have an amazing husband and would not be surviving without him,” she said. “He’s a huge support because he knows at the end of the day, I need to escape or have a ‘me moment.’ And, I would not be getting through this without lots of prayer and the encouragement of my Christian friends.”

Morris said every mom needs support to help her through, and more opportunities to connect with other moms would be ideal for mothers today.

“Friends, family, a babysitter, or even if you’re single — you need someone to talk to and process stuff, because you will need breaks no matter how much you love your children,” she said. “There’s a lot of difficult days, molding someone into becoming a functional, appropriate, well-mannered adult is not an easy job. It’s very important, but not easy. Kids need a lot of rules and structure. You have to remember that being a mom is a lifetime commitment to give a child your best.

“I think moms don’t talk to each other enough. We need stress relief and moms need to find someone they can be open with. It’s not about how crazy your kids drive you, but what you do with that — whether you overcome it, seek resources and talk to people who’ve raised their children versus just feeling bad and not being willing to talk about it. You have to allow yourself to realize you’re not going to be perfect every day.”

To Morris, any woman can help nurture a child, and the more mother-figures, the better.

“There’s lots of ways to be a mother, and lots of kids out there who could use one,” she said.

On Mother’s Day, she doesn’t worry about the laundry piling up.

“It’s a day I don’t worry about anything else and just allow myself to be with my children,” she said.

Gail Reed, OACAC Neighborhood Center supervisor in Cassville, offered resources for moms, like parenting classes that teach sanity-saving strategies and behavior-modification techniques.

On Thursday, from 1-3 p.m., the center is also offering the life skills class, Summer Fun, which includes inexpensive, fun activity ideas for families over the summer.

In spite of time constraints, Reed reminds mothers to make their needs a priority, too.

“If you find an interest that relaxes you, whether that be adult coloring, a hot bubble bath, or reading, then that’s what you need to do,” she said. “You need to make the time to do that.”

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