Mothers’ Union?

Just in time for Mothers Day, an article telling us that, if stay-at-home moms got a monetary compensation for the 90-plus hours a week they work, it would average $117,000 a year.

(Ninety plus hours a week, by the way, if she manages to get 8 hours sleep a night–big if–leaves said Mom with 20 hour of free time a week. Many mothers would question if they get that much…)

I was a professional Mom for a number of years when the kids were small, although since my tools included hammer and Skil saw, probably “homemaker” was a more precise term. My husband made a decent salary, and thanks to the garden (plus freezer and canning jars), the sewing machine, and the handywoman skills, we kept outside costs down. In any case, it would have been tough to have a normal job, since as an academic, he figured summers were for travel.

I’m a believer in having an at-home parent, male or female, when kids are small. Kids don’t need quality time, they need quantities of quality time. Obviously, some mothers have no choice but to work outside the home, and even La Leche League (which organization I love, and for whom I used to be a counselor) recognizes that not every mother can stay at home. Other moms find being at home all day, every day a sure recipe for madness, and although a few of those might have benefited by re-thinking the whole need-to-reproduce question early on, kids are tough and day care or nannies can also produce great human beings.

This is my first Mother’s Day without a mother to greet with a flower or some chocolates. So to everyone out there who is, was, or ever had a mother, I say to you: Happy Mother’s Day.

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  1. KarenB on May 11, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    Mother’s Day can be a difficult one for those who had a difficult relationship with their mothers, those who have lost their mothers, and those who are wanting to be a mother but aren’t. For all of you, mother yourself today with particular care and loving kindness.

  2. Laraine on May 11, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    KarenB & Laurie,
    Happy Mother’s Day to you (and all women tuning in here). This morning, as I was systematically pulling weeds and allium seeds from my little garden plot, one person after another went to my landlady’s door nearby (she will be 100 later this week) with Mother’s Day gifts to honor her over-70 years as a mother. Since my mom passed on two years ago and I never succeeded in maintaining a pregnancy, never could afford adoption, I confess to a few self-pitying moments on the edge of tears (note to self: tears and abundant garden dirt on one’s face and hands don’t mix well). Somewhat comforting to note the NPR commentator’s note this morning that the originator of Mother’s Day never ever used the word “Happy” in front of Mother’s Day. Simply acknowledging the hard work and many contributions of moms is all she asked. My mom wasn’t perfect, but she loved me, and I loved her.

  3. Laraine on May 11, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    One other comment: I was somewhat dismayed to read in an earlier post comments that people couldn’t envision you as a hippie, Laurie. I was a hippie and so were many of my still-best friends, most of whom have grown up into completely wonderful adults with many levels of responsibility. To me, ‘hippie’ has always represented someone who was SO GROUNDED that they could step out of mainstream, develop an independent sense of responsibility and values, and remain grounded and realistic as they adapt and contribute to life and community from there on out. That’s different than the few ‘stoners’ or other individuals who for whatever reason persisted in states of drug or other ‘haze’ long after the experimental years. It makes perfect sense to me that you were a hippie, and a very good hippie mom, Laurie. Your books might never have come into being without your wonderfully colorful and independent life.

  4. nkk1969 on May 11, 2008 at 1:58 pm


    I’m sorry you took my hippie comment to mean I thought all hippies (or even most)were stoners. That is certainly not the case, and not at all why I can’t imagine Laurie as a hippie.

    There are true hippies and then there are those who attached themselves to a counter culture movement for the free love and drugs. Here’s why I don’t see Laurie as being in either group:

    LRK, a stoner? One can easily see she has far too many brain cells in tact to have been a long term druggie. Sure, all of us have lost a few bits of grey matter over the years to the causes of parenting, careers, care giving, etc, etc. Big difference between Laurie and Ozzie, though. 😉

    Now, the hippies I know are wonderful folks. Many of them came to WV in the seventies to live in mountain communes and have freedom to practice their arts in peace while being safely tucked away for mainstream society. They had a focus–tree hugging, music, writing, painting, sculpting, gardening, or whatever. Sure, they experimented with drugs, but it was never really about that for them. It was all about their passions and creativity.

    Have you ever heard the Don Henley song, Boys of Summer? There’s a line in it that says, “Out on the road today, I saw a Deadhead (never really been sure if that’s one word or two) sticker on a Cadillac.” This happened to many who called themselves hippies. The eighties came and capitalism got the better of them. It wasn’t that they didn’t still retain their ideals and goals, they just saw they needed money to further them. These are the folks I think of as being hippies at one time, but not being the real McCoy.

    OTOH, I know folks who are still about pure creative energy. Yes, they are fully functioning members of society, not stoners at all. However, they seem to float on clouds above the rest of us, adrift in the stream of art and poetry. One such dear soul saved me from a life of drug addiction and homelessness when I was a teen. She took me in, mentored me in her graphic design business, helped me apply for scholarships and financial aid for college, and even referred me to her friends when I needed work. Despite all that, I still felt like the mother in the relationship, or at least the responsible adult, most of the time. I can’t explain it, but sometimes I wanted to snap my fingers in front of her face and say, “HELLO! Did you just hear what you said?” Or, “Why in the world did you do THAT? Even I know that’s crazy.”

    The point of this is, I can’t see Laurie with her head in the clouds. She’s highly creative, but grounded. Does that make sense?


  5. Strawberry Curls on May 11, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    I have just now gotten off the phone with my almost 89 year old mother and it hit me when I read your blog, Ms. King, that I have a very real dread of my first Mother’s Day without my mother. I know it is coming, it is inevitable, but I will feel the loss so much more on that special day. My heart goes out to you and all those who have lost their mothers. I am fortunate, mine is in reasonably good health and has all her faculties. This could all turn on a dime and I like to think I am prepared, but I know I am not. How is it a 61 year old woman is still a child when she thinks of her mother passing? I believe you are never too old to be your mother’s little girl, that is the crux of the whole thing. I am often the parent now as she needs my assistance, but I am always aware she is the mother and I her child, her youngest and only daughter. It is a bond that is stronger than time and distance. Happy Mother’s Day, Ms. King, and everyone.


  6. nkk1969 on May 11, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    P.S. If anyone is interested in seeing what I mean about the WV hippies I know and love, check out these URLs.

    Colleen Anderson, graphic designer, writer, mentor, free spirit:

    Michael Davis, textile artist:

    Charly Hamilton, art embodied in a lanky frame and white boy ‘fro:

  7. Carlina on May 11, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    Happy Mother’s Day to you too! I haven’t children but wanted to pass my greetings forward. I agree with you about a stay at home parent as well. I have much to say on that topic, but shan’t expound here. I hope you had a great Mother’s Day and greetings to all my other fellow Russell-ites who are moms. I admire all of your patience, love and zeal for ur younguns….

  8. noBel on May 12, 2008 at 12:37 am

    It’s six years now since my mother died, but with the constant in your face commercial reminders this time of year it may as well have been six weeks. This year especially has been emotional, with the recent loss of my father.

    I hope everyone who still can took at least a moment out of their day to tell Mom how important she is. Heck, I hope you do it 365 days a year.

  9. corgimom on May 12, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Happy Mother’s Day to one and all. I was lucky to spend it with my mom and my son…wonder now why we didn’t do one of those three-generations pictures. I was also lucky enough to celebrate my parents’ 56th anniversary with them on Friday night.

    I LOVED being a SAHM for the first year-and-a-half of my boy’s life and hope to return to it again when finances permit. I do spend long weekends with my son as often as possible.

    And I am happier than I can say that the woman I leave my boy with when I must work is a big ol’ hippie!

  10. tangential1 on May 12, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    I had a horrible time trying to think of something for my mom this Mother’s Day. She’s 700 miles north and there was no way I could get up to see her, so a bouquet of tulips and a long phone call had to suffice. Although I was a tad put out when my mom thanked me for the flowers and asked about the “some assembly required” aspect of the gift. 0_o Turns out, the online flower seller I ordered from had them shipped FedEx from out of state rather than submitting the order to a local affiliate shop, as I was expecting, so the flowers and the vase came in separate boxes with a set of written directions on how to put the bouquet together. *sigh*

    When I was young, Mother’s Day was something of a laugh. My aunt’s husband had an annual work trip that fell on Mother’s Day weekend so he was always out of town and thus my dad would take both my mom and my aunt (my mom’s twin, no less) out to brunch. So it was kind of a joke that Dad had two wives for Mother’s Day.

  11. Millie on May 13, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    Thank you Laurie for helping me to make up my mind about going back to work. I have been struggling with this decision (not helped by a very kind husband who says “It’s totally your choice”).

    You’ve articulated how I feel – my kids need me at home with them, not the extras that my income would buy them.

    Thanks again, and belated Happy Mother’s Day!

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