You may or may not know this, but in addition to raising 6 kids, running a house and blogging I'm a freelance writer. Mostly I write how-to articles for various well-known websites. (I was explaining this to someone today and he squealed delightedly, “Oh, I get it – you're BOB NEWHART!” Lance was totally bewildered but I understood it completely – if you do, too, then you're probably at least as old as I feel.)
Today I accepted an assignment with the title “Mother Appreciation Ideas.” Next week sometime I will come up with 500 polished and professional words on this topic, but when I first read the title I had only one: Encouragement. She wants some encouragement!
Whether she's a 24/7 stay-at-home-mom who sews her own diapers and cans her own corn or an Executive Mom who makes a point of being home every night for the bedtime story, a Mom gets very little timely feedback on how she's doing. It can be argued that if her kids aren't running naked in the street (as Bill Cosby said, “chasing cars and biting tires”), she's doing okay, much of the time we're playing it by ear. SAHM is lucky even to get a “great dinner, Hon!” once a month. Executive Mom will get employee reviews and bonus checks at work – or employee reviews and probationary status, if all isn't going well – but she won't really know how she's doing at home until the kid is grown.
By then, of course, it's too late to change her approach.
If you want to show some appreciation for the Mom in your life, there are two ways to do so. One is by letting her know that you see her. A single comment such as, “Maggie, your kids are so smart, and so well-behaved in public – you're doing a fantastic job with them” gives her the positive feedback that lets her know she's on the right track. Joy's preschool teacher listened to her read and said, “It's obvious you've worked with her a lot.” A little thing, but . . . well, that kid is 24 years old now, but you can see that I'm STILL running off that compliment.
By the way, this is especially important if you're the Dad to her Mom. The two of you know these kids – and all the flat-out work that goes into raising them – better than anyone else in the world. If you think she's a great Mom, tell her. If the kids are always clean, if they're smart, if they're funny, if she manages a schedule that would make an air-traffic controller weep – let her know you see her prowess and you're awed by it! Conversely, if Dad reads a mean bedtime story, keeps the laundry caught up, or teaches 15-year-olds to drive without ever raising his voice – thank him. Tell him what a good job he's doing. You know the 15-year-olds aren't gonna do it.
The other thing that shows Mom how much you appreciate what she does is to dig in and do a little work. Wash the dishes. Pick up the toys. Go get the bread, milk, eggs and yogurt on the grocery list. Take the cranky baby for a drive so Mom can get a nap. A helping hand is Motherhood's highest denomination of currency.
Of course, handprint plaques and potted marigolds and crayoned hearts that say “I lov yuo, Mom” are pretty darned good, too.