Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mother of the Year

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I thought I'd let the dust settle from Laura's post a little before posting again. Some because I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to say, but mostly I wanted her to get the limelight for a while. She doesn't get it much these days. Laura doesn't get much public or direct recognition for this incredible thing she is doing, this  complicated and stressful raising of our son. Mostly she gets work and I get the glory.

I'm out in the world more, have more time to be connected to the internet, etc. I'm the one who gets emails and has people tell me to my face how much they love our blog, how inspired they are by what "we" are doing, how amazing they think "we" are. Each time, I try to stop and remind them how much of the credit goes to Laura, but it doesn't erase the fact that I got to hear it first.

And it's just not right.

Laura has many admirable qualities, but shameless self-promotion isn't one of them. That's where I step in.

Laura has an insane job. She typically works from 6 a.m. to 8-10 p.m. Without breaks. Without feedback. Without coworkers. Without pay. In hazardous conditions (heavy lifting, toxic waste, psychological distress). Without workers comp.

Her job duties include social work, nursing, pharmaceutical distribution, advocacy, chauffeuring, complicated mathematics (to determine calorie counts in blended food), operating heavy machinery, operating highly specialized medical equipment, preparing a specialized diet, translating medical information into plain English, occupational therapy, feeding therapy, physical therapy, medical research, precise time management, cleaning...I could go on for another 3 pages.

And she still finds it in her to be an amazing and present wife, sister, aunt, friend, daughter, niece, cousin, daughter-in-law...

Why does she do this job that none of us would ever voluntarily choose?

Because it needs to be done.
And because she loves us.

I don't know about you, but I think I'd start to crack up after 3 years of this. Laura, however, is maintaining her sanity better than anyone I could possibly imagine in this situation.

But we need help.

I need (and Laura too, though she'll never admit it out loud to you) for people to give her affirmations. Specific ones. Not, "you're such a great Mom". Like, specifically what she is doing that is making an impression on you. It can be here in the comments section, in direct emails, next time you see her, little voicemails, notes in the mail. It can be related to how she's taking care of Simon or it can be what she brings to this planet as an individual.

And I'm not talking about this being a one-time deal. This is what we need on an ongoing basis. More than food, more than birthday presents, more than any of the other things you can think of that you might try to do to help.  Focus on Laura. She might squirm and try to shift the focus away from herself as the humble, slightly shy person she is, but don't let her get away with it. Hook her with a tractor beam of love and get her good.

When you're with her, ask her how she's doing. And listen. Encourage her, in whatever way you can, to talk about how SHE is doing, not how Simon is doing. Doing something almost 24 hours a day makes it hard to remember that you exist outside of whatever it is, or that you're good at anything else. Reminders of what those are would be great.

Sometimes it feels like she's this bright, bright light hidden under a bushel. Sometimes the bushel is mounds of laundry and bags of blended food and fist-fulls of syringes. Sometimes it's the errant wave of crushing depression that comes with the territory we live in. I know the song says that she's supposed to "let it shine" herself, but as someone who adores her, I think it's also my job to help the process along a little.

I'd like to vote Laura Mother of the Year and I'd love to hear why you agree with me.

p.s. If you hear of any opportunities to really vote her Mother of the Year, especially if there's a fun trip she can go on or feature story of her or some other totally over-the-top reward, by all means, share :-)

A few of my favorite pictures of my dear wife

In repose

Hunka hunka burnin love

My personal favorite.  She looks demented.

Just about the sweetest thing ever

Just sort of says it all, doesn't it?