What husbands and children can do for mom

(Note: I’ve responded to the comments on the I am mommy post (thanks for all the feedback, in comments, etc!). I’ve decided that Sarah (among others) is right in saying I should read the entire book. I’ve got 30 pages to go, and will be posting an update soon.)

As for Mother’s Day, I’ve been wanting to post excerpts from this excellent talk on my fridge. I guess my blog is a good first step.

From M. Russell Ballard, Daughters of God.

I love how he describes his first experience of sitting alone (wife singing in the choir) with his six kids at church. The frustrations of church with children aren’t original, but it’s still music to my ears:

. . . I found myself sitting alone with our six children. I have never been so busy in my whole life. I had the hand puppets going on both hands, and that wasn’t working too well. The Cheerios got away from me, and that was embarrassing. The coloring books didn’t seem to entertain as well as they should.

As I struggled with the children through the meeting, I looked up at Barbara, and she was watching me and smiling. I learned for myself to more fully appreciate what all of you dear mothers do so well and so faithfully!

He then discusses what mothers can do to “reduce the pressure and enjoy your family more.” There are some excellent points in there (he even quotes Anna Quindlen). But Mother’s Day is (or should be!) all about what others can do for mom. So:

What more can a husband do to support his wife, the mother of their children?

First, show extra appreciation and give more validation for what your wife does every day. Notice things and say thank you—often. Schedule some evenings together, just the two of you.

Second, have a regular time to talk with your wife about each child’s needs and what you can do to help.

Third, give your wife a “day away” now and then. Just take over the household and give your wife a break from her daily responsibilities. Taking over for a while will greatly enhance your appreciation of what your wife does. You may do a lot of lifting, twisting, and bending!

Fourth, come home from work and take an active role with your family. Don’t put work, friends, or sports ahead of listening to, playing with, and teaching your children.

The third question: What can children, even young children, do?

Now, you children, please listen to me because there are some simple things you can do to help your mother.

You can pick up your toys when you are finished playing with them, and when you get a little older, you can make your bed, help with the dishes, and do other chores—without being asked.

You can say thank you more often when you finish a nice meal, when a story is read to you at bedtime, or when clean clothes are put in your drawers.

Most of all, you can put your arms around your mother often and tell her you love her.

What works not for me: Gift-giving, and, naturally, a GIVEAWAY!

follow me boys movieIt has long been my ambition in life to not be like Whitey’s drunk dad in Follow Me Boys. Instead I’d like to be the inspirational, compassionate, Boy Scout-leading Fred MacMurray. But when it comes to gift-giving, I am just as inept as poor Whitey’s dad, bringing cartons of melting ice cream late to the pack meeting.

My very generous mother-in-law always tells us to not get her anything for Christmas, birthdays, Mother’s Day, etc. She usually sends a detailed email a couple weeks/months before the holiday, telling us what she has bought herself, and reminding us that her kids and grandkids are gift enough and that we needn’t bother ourselves about a gift for her. Usually I like to follow her admonition. Who am I to argue with someone who is happy to save me time, money, thought, and energy?

But now that we’ve moved far away and she can no longer delight in her (admittedly delightful) grandkids on a monthly basis, I thought I’d put together some sort of birthday package this past February. I bought a bag of Lindt truffles, assorted, and one of those new (to me, anyway) home fragrance oil thingies, the ones in the funky glass bottle with bamboo sticks purveying the fragrance to your gracious home. I put in some cards the kids drew, and a family picture in a clear magnetic frame for her refrigerator. Darn thoughtful, huh?

I think it got to Florida a couple days late (nobody’s perfect), and Nana was gratifyingly appreciative. About a week later she emailed to say that she really liked our family picture, and was sorry she hadn’t mentioned it earlier, but the Lindt truffles melted out of their bag and all over the other items, and in the horrific mess (my words) the picture had fallen under a cupboard, and she hadn’t seen it until now.

Lesson Learned: Do not send chocolate in the mail to Florida, even if where you live it is seven degrees and snowing.

About a week ago we got an email from Nana that more forefully than usual said, “Please don’t get me anything for Mother’s Day. My grandkids are gift enough.” Now there’s a challenge. I could slink away and save myself further humiliation, or I could try again and make an effort to be a little more thoughtful.

Costco made the decision easy, as it consistently beautifies and simplifies my life in so many ways (fresh, cook-yourself tortillas!, diapers in bulk!, 55 cent fountain drinks!). As the girls and I worked the sample tables, I saw a display for See’s Candies gift certificates, 2 for 20 bucks. Hot dog!

I realize that Nana Marian will probably read this before she gets the package that I sent today, but then she’ll just have longer to plan which See’s Candies yumminess she wants to get. And, if we find, when we visit later this year, that she has not used the gift card? We’ll take her to the store and force help her to choose something and MAKE her enjoy it!

So, gift-giving, it’s what works not for me.

And now for the giveaway. A very nice publicist sent me a review copy of Taylor Wilshire’s new fiction book The Book of Mom. I’ll be posting a review soon, but wanted to hold the giveaway before Mother’s Day. Also, I don’t want to give away the book by telling you how much I loved or hated it. Maybe you can guess by reading it yourself? The Los Angeles Review said:

This spiritual novel brims with humor, realism, and the day-to-day struggles of motherhood . . . Its fast-pace, irresistible, candid, and eloquent account of the human condition makes it impossible to put down.

Leave a comment telling me what you’re giving your mother for Mother’s Day OR the best Mother’s Day gift you’ve ever received and I’ll enter you in the completely random drawing for The Book of Mom. (Continental U.S. only, which unfortunately does not include Canada.)




Mommy Haikus

changing diapers in
public embarrass no more
Mom: One, Poop: Zero.


changing diapers in
public embarrasses not
Mom: Won, Poop: Zero.

smell your neck as safe
in your lap, I snuggle, warm
and then I can go.

blood on your mattress
new sister for us. And then
another brother

belly breast and brain
cradle manna character
her Self became me

Your face is the home
barometer. Your wooden
spoon was always fair.

There’s a 1000 dollar giveaway over at RIMD today. I know, makes all those other giveaways look pretty darn skimpy. Deadline is 8 pm CST (those Okies!) to submit your Mom haiku (5-7-5 syllables, usually about nature). If I get a brain transplant (preferably from a non-percocet-abusing person) before tonight and think up some good ones, I’ll update this post. Meanwhile, I am pretty happy to have one poem with an alternate version. Very Emily Dickinson, don’t you think?