Contributed by Jody McVittie, MD

This Sunday, May 13th, 2012 is Mother’s Day. Growing up I remember one of the things my mother wanted on Mother’s Day was “time off.” It always confused me. Why did she want to celebrate being a mom by taking a day off from being a mom?

As a mother myself, I now have a deeper understanding and a lot of compassion for her. My mother grew up in an era when it was her job to take care of everything at home. When I look back to the magazine ads and early television of the 1950’s the messages to women were pretty clear. Your job is to keep the house in order, the children happy, cook all of the meals and still be fresh to greet your tired husband when he came home. Your job is to be self-sacrificing – and like it. Your wants and needs come second – if at all.

Of course, every family is different, but not all women thrived from these messages, some of which have subtly been passed down through generations. Sixty years later our culture has shifted in some ways and in others – not so much.

As a mother you may still do a big share of the household organization, shopping, cooking and generally making sure that the “operation works.” It is behind the scenes work that can be exhausting. It is often invisible, under appreciated and yet critically important. Of course you stay up at night with a child who has a fever or can’t breathe. Of course you worry when your teen stops talking, comes in later than she promised, or brings homes friends that don’t seem to treat her respectfully. And it makes a difference.

As a mother you may be contributing many hours to your children’s school, your community or you may be working one or more job’s – for the sake of your family’s well-being. And it makes a difference

Mom, take a moment to notice the impact you have had. You make a difference.

Here are some Mother’s Day ideas for Moms and the people who love them:
• Each time you hear an appreciation really let it in. You make a difference.

• Make a promise to keep nourishing yourself all year. Plan some “time – in.” What brings you joy? Is it dancing, art, hanging with girl friends, listening to music, shopping, a hobby, exercise or something else? Being a mother is who you are – but not all of who you are. Ask your family to help you make sure that you make time for yourself. You’ll be modeling (for your children) how to take care of yourself so you can make a difference for others.

• Take a moment to think about your own mother. If she is still alive are there unspoken appreciations that could be shared? Does she know that she made a difference to you? It wouldn’t hurt to tell her again.

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