A thank you is never unfounded

Penguin kisses. This is a devoted dad who knows how to take care of his son.Last weekend, I was away for almost four days to attend Blissdom Canada. While I was away, I left my son and husband to fend for themselves. I did next to nothing to prepare for my time away, partially because I know my husband is capable of taking care of Brandon without me needing to run around prepping food and clothes and all that stuff ahead of time. The other part was because I’d been sick for over a week by the time I left, so I wasn’t much good for helping get anything ready anyway.

At varying times during the conference, I saw tweets thanking the people back home for looking after kids - most of the time, the person being thanked was a husband or partner.

At some point during the conference, someone either said or tweeted something to the effect that there wouldn’t be so many tweets thanking wives at a “men’s” conference. I don’t know who made this observation and I don’t remember when they made it, but I take issue with the message behind it.

Saying thank you is an expression of gratitude to another person for something they’ve done - regardless of the motivation. Yes, parenting is the job of both parents, but when both parents are participating in the day-to-day life of a child, it can be exhausting to take on that job alone. I am the one in my relationship who has spent more time away in Brandon’s lifetime. Matt has been supportive of each of the trips I’ve taken and I do feel very grateful for that.

And I should. My time away at Blissdom Canada was hard on Matt for more reasons than just looking after Brandon. He wasn’t feeling well and when he came home from work sick, he ended up not resting, but taking our cat to the vet. Pile on top of those things a lively three-year-old and I had one very relieved husband when I finally showed my face late Sunday afternoon. Yet he didn’t complain even once about the extra work. He just did it and encouraged me to enjoy myself, even as we were texting back and forth about the cat.

When Matt goes away without us at some point, I hope I handle it with the same grace that he did (though not without some good-natured ribbing as payback). I didn’t tweet a thank you to him while I was away, but I did say it to him - several times, in fact. I don’t care if Matt tweets a thank you to me when he goes away, but I know from past experience that he will show his gratitude to me. 

When I saw Krista’s post the other day about the give and take in her relationship with Willy, it spurred me into action - I really needed to get this out, because that comment bugged me a lot.

Thanking your partner for helping, even when it’s part of their job as a parent, is the right thing to do. We all need to know we’re appreciated and not taken for granted.

And that’s why those thank you tweets were a good thing to see.

Awesome moms deserve recognition - Happy Mother's Day, ladies!

Mother’s Day – like every other holiday – has become marketed and commercialized to death. The pressure for sons, daughters and husbands to commemorate the day in a way that truly shows the appropriate level of gratitude and appreciation seems to increase each year. The more money you spend or the bigger the gift, the greater your appreciation. What an unfortunate perspective our kids are being exposed to these days!

Generally, I’m low maintenance when it comes to birthdays and Christmas. I grew up in a family that didn’t do much for birthdays, and Christmas wasn’t about presents though we did exchange them. We always acknowledged birthdays, but it was unusual for us to make them into a huge deal with parties and lots of gifts. I had a whopping 2 birthday parties growing up. One when I turned 6 and the other when I turned 16. In my family, birthdays were made special, but not necessarily huge. As an adult, I don’t expect or want much for my birthday or Christmas. 

Mother’s Day was a slightly different story, though – at least to me. I always wanted to make the day really special for my mom. We got her sweet gifts some years, silly gifts other years. I think we hit Dad up for money to help us buy flowers once or twice. We often cooked meals for her or took her out for a special treat. I was and still am very grateful for my Mom. I liked having a day set aside to specifically and purposefully show her what she meant to me. That gratitude gets easily lost in the day-to-day comings and goings of a busy family, especially as children get older and rely less on their parents.

After moving away from home, I must admit it got harder and harder to do something truly special for my mom because “special” was usually something that involved spending time together - hard to do from 1,500 miles away. So, I’d order her little things online that I knew she’d like but also find practical and convenient. Mom and I had very similar taste so it was easy to please her. Sometimes I’d send flowers, but I didn’t like to do that every year – it doesn’t take much effort or thought and I like thoughtful gifts. But the flowers were something nice that Mom always genuinely enjoyed as she didn’t get them very often.

Since having Brandon, I have to admit that I like the recognition of my newish role in life. I’ve wanted to have children most of my life and I waited a very long time to become a mom. I’m thrilled to be a mom and I try hard to be a mother who is deserving of some measure of gratitude. I want my son to grow up with an appreciation of motherhood in general so that if he has children with a future partner he’ll cherish that role she plays to his kids. If I fulfill my role to him growing up, it will give him a good foundation of respect for mothers and motherhood.

Mother’s Day shouldn’t be about getting an expensive present or making a big deal – though that’s how some choose to show their mother what she means and there’s no harm in that. I want my son to learn that it’s about making your mother feel special for her contribution to your life. It’s not about buying cards or anything else. It’s about taking a day to show specific and purposeful gratitude, because so often we forget to do that on a daily basis with the people we love who have such a huge impact on our lives.