I recently had a friend share with me a very intimate moment of motherhood and the raw emotion that can come bursting out of us moms with almost no warning. At times, as a mother it can feel almost impossible that our children would not perceive our presence in our home space. We are always there, we are harping on or asking for or comforting with or demanding from or…always something and so it feels very natural to assume that our presence is a given at all times. My friend shared that her daughter, who is in kindergarten, was setting the table for dinner and held the last plate up while looking confused and trying to figure out who the “extra” plate was for. My friend, with absolute forfeiture in her voice reminded her daughter that it was for her, for mom, mommy, mother, the woman standing there, the human who had cooked the meal in the kitchen she had spent all day cleaning.
I recently had a similar experience when my daughter made her list of who she wanted to buy presents for during the holidays and while the dog (and my brother’s dog) made the list, mom and dad were nowhere to be found. I looked at her list, her budding handwriting and her organization of who would be receiving something from her and the pride in this feeling of owning the gift giving. I knew there was no malice, I could see that she was genuine in her desire to give and be kind and share her love and compassion. So why had mom and dad been left off? And why had my friend’s daughter so easily and unceremoniously forgotten that her mother was the fourth spot at the table? The answer came to me so undramatically that I had to laugh at its truth. It is because we are there, we are there day in and day out. We are there for every moment, good and bad and in-between. We are there and our children know we are there. When they think of who is going to be at dinner or who should be receiving a show of gratitude they are thinking of those in their lives who come in and out, those they love and cherish because the moments with them are not dependable but rather scheduled or spontaneous and infrequent.
You moms, and you dads are the ones who are there, we are always there and in the same way you never think to thank your hot water for just being there when you need it most, we are the dependable, stable people in their lives. They don’t remember us because they never have to imagine us not there.
While it never feels good to be “forgotten”, I urge you to rebrand the idea of what it means when you aren’t the receiver of a gift or a shout out. It means that your child never has to imagine you missing. Trust me when I say that one day, your child will think to themselves, as they are frantic in the holiday splendor “okay, what do I need to get mom for Christmas” and “oh crap we need to buy an extra dining chair because mom and dad are coming for dinner and we are one chair short”. These moments will come, you will be named. There will come a time when you re no longer the constant in their lives. So I urge you to wear your forgotten badge of honor proudly, and know that that oversight of your tiny human is a reflection on your stability in their lives.
Have a happy New Year and may 2021 be a year of reflection, observance and acceptance of who we are, where we are and what we are to those around us.
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I am a mother, not a wizard. I share what is hard, what is scary and what is real. The rest I leave to you.