Mothers - Unsung Heroes
May 11, 2013
(l. Connecticut blogger Deborah Bohling, mother of four.)
Today is Mother's Day.
A mother's love is the glue that holds the world together.
We salute mothers by posting two short articles by Deborah Bohling,
from her blog "Mothers in the Trenches." Her mother mettle
was tested when one son contracted cancer and, later, a daughter
suffered from a psychological disorder.
"What defines me as a mom are those experiences I have had because of my children. Those sacred moments where the world doesn't exist. In the quiet of the night, when it's just me and my child. What defines me is not what I do, but what I know."
What Do You Do All Day?
Posted on February 8, 2013
by Deborah Bohling
"What do you do all day?"
I used to cringe at that question. It was never asked in a kind, curious way. It was always asked with a sneer. Usually by people who lived in the world defined by the mantra "if I'm busier than you, I'm better than you" and who incorrectly assumed that my life was filled with leisurely strolls in the park, reading romance novels, and taking naps.
Unfortunately, as a young, stay-at-home mom, I had neither the quick wit, nor the confidence to respond to this question. Instead I internalized it and in doing so I gave it power.
I started to ask myself that question. What do I do all day? And if I couldn't come up with a long enough list I would add more. So I joined things. I joined the PTA, and I became a room mother. I sat on the Little League board, organized fund raisers, chaired Vacation Bible School and even became a volunteer firefighter. All of this in an effort to respond to that all important question.
I had a general insecurity about myself as a mom who didn't work outside the home. As though I had to justify my choices and even my existence. After all, in a world ruled by the almighty dollar, what value does a person have who brings in no paycheck?
Of course a great deal of lip service has been paid to the virtues of motherhood and if I add up all the services I provide in a given day, I can calculate what my yearly income would be, but none of that mattered to me.
That looming question was too big and too deep. I just could not answer it as fully as I wanted. So I kept moving. And I kept adding more to my to-do list. I hosted parties, and opened my house to all the kids. I cooked and cleaned. I was a 24-hour-taxi service. I was a frenzy of activity, and all to prove to the world that I did something all day.
But none of that defines me as a mom. Not anymore. What defines me as a mom are those experiences I have had because of my children. Those sacred moments where the world doesn't exist. In the quiet of the night, when it's just me and my child. What defines me is not what I do, but what I know.
I know what it's like to comfort a child who gets pushed into a locker or has to use his lunch money to "pay" for passage in the halls.
I know what it's like to sift through therapists to find just the right one to help a child who can't go to school because her fear of germs is so great she can't put her hand on the door handle.
I know what it's like to get a phone call alerting me to the fact that my son has been in a car accident.
And I know what it's like to hold a child's hand night after night in a hospital room, silently praying for the chemotherapy to work.
These are the unsung moments. The moments that make up a life of mothering, and the moments that only another mother would appreciate. It is in these moments that I've learned to be strong. In these moments I've learned to think clearly in an emergency and I've learned more about anxiety and cancer than any professor could ever teach in a college classroom. It is from these moments that I have learned the difference between knowledge and wisdom.
So don't ask me what I do all day. Because if you have to ask, you have no capacity to understand the answer.
The Mommy Wars
Posted on February 8, 2013
I remember the first time I read the headline "The Mommy Wars" on some magazine at the checkout stand. It was an article about stay-at-home moms vs. working moms and the animosity between the two.
I never thought there was a war between us but upon further introspection I had to admit I was at one time in my life contributing to the dissention. I can recall having a smugly superior attitude because I was home taking care of my own kids, not allowing a nanny or daycare to take the reins.
That attitude helped me deflect what I believed their attitude to be about me. That I wasn't working because I wasn't smart enough, or capable enough to juggle home and office.
I had harsh words to say about working moms who sent their sick kids to school because they couldn't take a day off to tend to them. Or who called me to cart their kids around because they couldn't get out of a meeting and they knew I was home and available.
I wanted to believe that I was doing a better job than they were. That because I was home to greet my kids when they got off the school bus, I was the better mom. But in actuality I didn't believe that. In fact, I envied my working friends although it took me years to admit that to myself.
I envied the clothes they wore, and the business trips they went on. I envied that they carried briefcases instead of diaper bags and that they had something else to talk about besides life with children. I envied their confidence and take-charge attitude. They always seemed pulled together and organized.
So I was surprised one day while chatting over a glass of wine with my friend, a working mom with 2 children, when she admitted to me that she envied me. She went on to say that she often wondered if her choice to work was the best choice for her family. She wanted to be able to provide a good life for them and the dual income helped served that purpose. But there were so many things she felt she missed out on. So much time away from her kids that could not be brought back.
And she felt guilty.
I shared with her that I envied her professional life. That there were days I had wished so hard for someplace exciting to go. That running errands and going to endless soccer games, cleaning the house and carpooling was not always stimulating. I admitted that sometimes I felt bored just raising kids, that I wanted to do more with my life than just be a mom.
And I felt guilty.
And in that moment we truly connected. And we saw each other's lives perhaps for the first time. We realized that she wasn't a "working mom" and I wasn't a "stay-at-home mom". We were just moms. Both of us doing the best we could to be the best we could be for our kids.
And I said goodbye to that flippant attitude I used to have. I softened my heart toward my working comrades and made a conscious decision to support them and help them when I could.
There should be no war between us. There is enough of a war out there. The war on drugs, the war against drunk driving, the war against bullying and the list goes on. We can't fight this war if we are divided amongst ourselves. For if there is ever going to be any change in our culture, it will come from a united group of mothers working together.
See also- "Even Cool Mothers Aren't Cool to their Kids"
First Comment from Linda:
Dear Henry...thank you for posting the article Mothers - Unsung Heroes. I too have been asked "what do you do all day" - a rather unkind and truly ignorant question, particularly when asked by another mother.
I have the college degree, worked in the corporate world and chose, or rather was led, to stay at home with my children and homeschool them. Our daughter has almost completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, our son is almost through his junior year in high school - still homeschooled by mom. I could never, ever quantify the blessings I have received by staying home with my kids - they are two of the most godly and wonderful people I know. They are bright and articulate, they have manners and are gracious to others, they are a treasure to me and their dad. I thank God every day for the privilege to be their mom and care for them. There is nothing the world can offer that could replace the calling of being a mother.
It is nice to see the positive comments to this article from men. I know my husband would wholeheartedly agree with their opinions (Adrian and Al Thompson). My husband is a wonderful and godly man - his support is so important to me. God is good...life is good.
Comments for "Mothers - Unsung Heroes "
Henry Makow received his Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Toronto in 1982. He welcomes your comments at