Summary: Not working outside the home? There’s enough to be done within the home to keep ten women busy (and probably twenty men). Consider the wages...

May 12, 2002

Erma Bombeck writes;

For the first 4 or 5 years after I had children, I considered motherhood a temporary condition -- not a calling. It was a time of my life set aside for exhaustion and long hours. It would pass. Then one afternoon, with 3 kids in tow, I came out of a supermarket pushing a cart (with four wheels that went in opposite directions) when my toddler son got away from me. Just outside the door, he ran toward a machine holding bubble gum in a glass dome. In a voice that shattered glass he shouted, "Gimme! Gimme!" I told him I would give him what for if he didn’t stop shouting and get in the car.

As I physically tried to pry his body from around the bubble gum machine, he pulled the entire thing over. Glass and balls of bubble gum went all over the parking lot. We had now attracted a sizable crowd. I told him he would never see a cartoon as long as he lived, and if he didn’t control his temper, he was going to be making license plates for the state. He tried to stifle his sobs as he looked around at the staring crowd. Then he did something that I was to remember for the rest of my life. In his helpless quest for comfort, he turned to the only one he trusted his emotions with -- me. He threw his arms around my knees and held on for dear life. I had humiliated him, chastised him, and berated him, but I was still all he had.

That single incident defined my role. I was a major force in this child’s life. Sometimes we forget how important stability is to a child. I’ve always told mine, "The easiest part of being a mother is giving birth.... the hardest part is showing up for it each day..."

Mother’s day is traditionally the day when children give something back to their mothers for all the spit they produce to wash dirty faces, all the old gum they held in their hands, all the noses they wipe, and all the bloody knees they "made well" with a kiss. This is the day mothers are rewarded for washing all those sheets in the middle of the night, driving kids to school when they missed the bus, and enduring all the football games in the rain. It’s appreciation day for making your children finish something they said they couldn’t do, not believing them when they said, "I hate you," and sharing their good times and their bad times. Their cards probably won’t reflect it, but what they are trying to say is, "Thank you for showing up."

There have been some great mothers in history. Of course there was Eve; she got things going. There was Jesus’ mother, Mary. We must certainly be grateful for her stand against abortion.

More recently there is the mother of John Wesley. Susanna Wesley is reputed to have spent time every week giving individual attention to each of her 17 children. She spent an hour with each child. That way all of her children felt special. (I wonder who was corralling the other 16 kids while she was focused on one?)

My own mom knew how to make me feel special. There was never a doubt in my mind that she knew all about me; she KNEW ME! Somehow she always seemed to know what was on my mind (good or bad). It was like she was everywhere at once. My mom was like God, omnipresent – she was everywhere; she was omniscient, knowing all; she was omnipotent, my backside can attest! My Mom – I couldn’t hide myself, my secrets or my posterior when needed.

Today full-time motherhood is just about summarily dismissed as wasting your precious time. It is as if raising tomorrow’s generation of leaders, places a woman in some inferior category of less-than-fulfilled womanhood. Moms who specialize in the home are made to feel cheated if they are not being fulfilled in some position in business.

The American workplace is filled with women. That is not bad. As in most churches, were it not for the influence and elbow-grease of women, the doors would have closed long ago. The problem is that we have seen a severe decline in full-time moms over the last four decades. And, it is no small coincidence that paralleling the decrease in traditional families (working dad, homemaking mom), we have witnessed an unprecedented rise in teenage crime, child abuse, underage unmarried pregnancies and divorce.

Now, we cannot lay those facts entirely at the feet of America’s women. Mostly it is our fault – that vague unidentified culprit we call society. Culturally, we have said success means having more – a bigger payday. In the name of materialism we have robbed the cradle of that which it most needs – Mom’s hand.

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