Around Town

The treadmill that never stops – it’s motherhood

Amy Rosen

When I was growing up, my mother stayed home and my father worked. I depended on my mom to wake me up in the morning, give me breakfast and drive me to and from school. She even picked me up for lunch, took me home, had a hot lunch waiting – which I ate while watching my favorite TV show, “Bewitched” – and drove me back to school.

Sometimes she said she had to leave her shopping cart full of food in the supermarket so that she could be there on time to pick me up from school. Then she went back after lunch to get her groceries. After that she drove me to dancing school, piano lessons, the orthodontist and friends’ houses. My mother made sure we had dinner every night and always had a hot meal waiting for my father when he came home from work later. I was never quite sure what my mother did when I was at school, but I always wished I could be like her because she got to stay home and do whatever she wanted. I felt bad for her sometimes because I worried that she missed me when I wasn’t home.

As it turned out I got my wish. I, too, chose to stay home and raise my kids. And I got to find out firsthand that stay-at-home moms have plenty to do all day, and it’s not all fun and games. When you have babies to take care of, it’s a major job just to get them fed, cleaned and dressed.

In order to dress myself I had to either wake up before them, or if I opted to sleep late, I had to take the baby into the bathroom and secure him into a bouncy seat while I took a quick shower and scrambled to make myself look presentable.

After making the beds and putting on a load of laundry, it was time for lunch, followed by cleanup of both the kitchen and baby, and if I got lucky enough to get us ready to go out, by the time we got to our destination, the baby fell asleep.

When things went well, we made it to the playground or had friends over for a play date. Then there was “Mommy and Me,” “Mardi Music” classes and “Gymboree.” If we didn’t go out, there was a host of chores to do, such as cleaning, laundry, phone calls, bill paying, balancing the checkbook, etc., which were all done when the baby slept (although sometimes it was tempting to make it a double nap time for both of us).

When he was awake, it was playtime, our favorite time of the day. Then there was dinner for baby and eventually for myself, always making sure to have something ready for when my husband came home later. After bath time and reading books, it was time to fold the laundry and prepare bottles and anything else for the next day. With the birth of each additional child came more responsibilities and less time to get it all done. If someone should get sick all priorities changed.

As they got older, there came after-school activities, volunteering in their classes, schlepping drums to band practice, music lessons, baseball, soccer, hockey, religious lessons and friends’ houses. When they were at school, yes, I missed them, but I rejoiced in having some time to get things done by myself. But even when they were in school, I was always rushing to get everything done in time to be home when they got off the bus or if they needed to be picked up from school early to get to the next scheduled activity. My life still revolves around the same things, but my two older sons can drive themselves now.

When my youngest was 8, I decided that I wanted to get out into the grown-up world and brush off the mommy cobwebs that had formed on my brain. I got a part-time job that offered flexible hours so that I could still be there for my kids when they were home. Now I know what it feels like to be a working mom. Take all of the above chores and activities and add a job. The chores don’t go away, they just have to fit into less time. The kids are older so at least they help out when they can (OK, when I scream loud enough) and I still try to have a hot dinner on the table for everyone and strive to eat together whenever our schedules intersect. I sometimes feel I’m constantly running on a treadmill that never stops, but something must be wrong because I should be really skinny by now!

Aside from that little glitch, I think being a mom worked out fine for me. I look back fondly on the days of babies, and I still enjoy the challenges of today. I’m sure one day I’ll miss all the action, but I will always love my family and I wouldn’t want to change a thing if I could. I am proud of what my husband and I have accom-plished so far and my heart swells when I see my boys growing into fine young men.

Becoming a mom made me appreciate how much my own mother did for our family when we were growing up and how she still tries to help us now when we need her. I guess we take our moms for granted when we’re kids. You can’t really understand a person until you walk in their shoes.

Although the demands of moms today are different in many ways, the basic premise is the same. We sacrifice much to raise our children, and in doing so we grow up ourselves and discover that we are stronger than we ever imagined we could be. Good moms put their kids first no matter the circumstances and good kids can pay them back by expressing their appreciation every now and then.

To my mom: This one’s for you with all my love and appreciation. To all moms out there: Happy Mother’s Day – do something nice for yourself.

(To all the dads out there: don’t ever ask a mom what they do all day, if you know what’s good for you. Try telling her she’s amazing instead.)

Amy Rosen is a Greater Media News-papers staff writer.