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May 12, 2013

Vasicek: Mother’s Day stresses

Life will be better if we all ‘chill out’ more

For two hours, the lady sitting next to another airplane passenger boasted about her grandchildren, producing a barrage of photographs. She finally realized that she had been talking the whole time, so she tried to make amends:

“Oh, I am sorry! I have monopolized the conversation. I will listen to you now. So please tell me: what do you think of my grandchildren?”

Despite social changes in America, most people highly value family – at least in principle. K. J. Dell’Antonia of The New York Times documents, “In 2011, seven of the top 15 articles shared on Facebook were about family, children and parenting. That wasn’t a fluke. Nearly every news article, every policy and every cultural event can be looked at through the lens of how it affects parents and children — and even when it isn’t Mother’s Day, family comes high on the list of things both men and women are interested in reading and thinking about.”

Dedication does not make motherhood easy, only worthwhile. Surprisingly, mothers with three children seemed to be the most stressed, according to an exclusive Today.com mom survey. Rebecca Dube explains: “Mothers of three children stress more than moms of one or two, while mothers of four or more children actually report lower stress levels, according to the survey of more than 7,000 U.S. mothers released Monday. Call it the Duggar effect: Once you get a certain critical mass of kids, life seems to get a bit easier.”

The survey shows that most moms consider themselves stressed at an 85 percent level. Moms expressed they are stressed about money, work demands and their husbands. Yet three-fourths of moms say they are most stressed about pressures they put upon themselves to be perfect. If only we Americans did a better job of “chilling out” without feeling guilty, how much better life would be for us all. It’s not just moms.

Another Mother’s Day stress we can feel is the stress to visit multiple mothers and grandmothers. Perhaps you have a mother and a mother-in-law and a stepmother (or two) and a stepmother-in-law (or two). If you mix a few grandmas into the equation – not to mention childless aunts – Mother’s Day can become one big ordeal.

Dr. Jamie Yvette (of “Yahoo Voices”) posted an article, “Tips for Honoring Multiple Moms on Mother’s Day.” Sometimes no matter how much effort you expend to please others, one is left feeling guilty and frustrated. Dr. Yvette offers several suggestions, including a holiday “rotation schedule.”

Dr. Yvette writes: “If you have multiple moms in different places, develop a “visit rotation” system as a compromise. You can plan, for example, to spend Thanksgiving with one mom, Christmas with another, Mother’s Day with another, etc. Try to rotate this each year so that you do not spend Mother’s Day with the same mom every time.”

Marylu and I were both fortunate. Our families of origin were not splintered by divorce, so we each had only one mother and one mother-in-law. Although we could not travel to Chicago for all the holidays, we did alternate Thanksgiving and Christmas between both sides. This way no one felt slighted. Since our parents are all gone, we are glad we made the effort — especially in retrospect.

Another alternative – if it works – is to invite your moms (and families) to one large celebration. That could be rough, though, if they are being pulled by other in-laws and stepchildren.

Motherhood is indeed special. Yet not every one of us has been blessed with a good mother. I’ve known a few over the years who were selfish, abusive or simply impossible to reason with. Nonetheless, most readers have been blessed with good moms, and those who were not can still respect the ideal of motherhood; many moms do approach that ideal. So to my readers who happen to be mothers, I wish you a wonderful and blessed day. Happy Mother’s Day. Motherhood gets two thumbs up in my review!

Ed Vasicek is pastor of Highland Park Church and a weekly contributor to the Kokomo Tribune. Contact him at edvasicek@att.net.

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