Acknowledging the Challenges of Motherhood
I can’t imagine my life without the two enchanting creatures that fill my days with snuggles, laughter and new adventures. I wouldn’t trade my role as a mother for anything in the world. In all honesty, there are some societal trends that have me concerned about the pressures being placed on contemporary moms. Every day I find my jaw agape in admiration of the many ways moms are faced with difficult circumstances and find creative ways to make it work.
One of the ways our society is changing is the ever increasing number of parents in the workforce. Mothers are most often entering the workforce to make ends meet as statistics show us that a decreasing number of families can afford to survive on a single income. In two parent households, dual-career couples have been documented to have less leisure time than those couples who can afford a stay-at-home parent. Single parents often bear the brunt of supporting the family financially and running a household, all singlehandedly. With a disproportionate number of single parent families headed by moms, these ladies are working hard for their families and, despite efforts to improve child support, many still do so without any financial support from their children’s fathers. As sole breadwinners, these women come up against a financial disadvantage as the wage gap we’ve heard about since the 1960’s hasn’t yet been resolved and women still make less than their male counterparts for equal work.
Having less leisure time in general can make it hard to carve out time to play and be present with our kids. Truly, it‘s our attention and interaction that our kids need far more than they need clean laundry or a tidy house. Some reports say that parents now have as much as 22 fewer hours to spend with their kids each week than they did in 1969! That also makes it difficult for a mother to find a quiet moment for herself, which for many of us is a necessity in maintaining personal sanity and harvesting more patience for our offspring.
Our culture is more transient so we’re now less likely to live near loving relatives and benefit (emotionally and financially) from family providing or trading childcare with us. With more moms working outside the home, the challenge to find high quality, affordable childcare is a prevalent, stressful issue for many. I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the challenges faced by mothers with older children. Due to a variety of circumstances, we now have a small army of grandmothers who are raising their grandchildren. Surely signing up for round two of parenting is done at a tremendous sacrifice. Baby boomers are being labeled by some as the “sandwich generation”, as they’re often sandwiched between supporting and caring for their aging parents before they’ve fully launched their own children. And of course there are the struggles moms young and old are facing to afford access to healthcare.
Moms, I hope you’ll take a few quiet moments to acknowledge your accomplishments and triumphs as a loving, hardworking mother. Notice the obstacles in your life and acknowledge the tenacity and dedication it’s taken on your part to be present for your kids! I continue to be amazed at how women finesse their situations by thinking outside of the box – swapping childcare with trusted friends, creating co-housing communities, working furiously from home during naptimes, taking third shift work so they’re available for school runs, etc. It’s not easy but as a group we’re endlessly resourceful. And our happy children are evidence that we’re doing something right!