It’s a thankless job but millions of women do it daily
Written on May 4, 2014 by Sandi's Ow
An employment agency was looking for applicants for an unpaid job– 24 hours a day, no benefits, no days off. It helpfully mentioned that billions of people already did it.
Twenty four people applied. They had nothing good to say about the position until they discovered what the job was.
A greeting card company came up with the idea to remind people to thank their mothers on May 11, Mother’s Day.
Yes, it’s a hard job but millions of women do this job gladly, even with an added burden of Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Fibromyalgia or other auto-immune problems that make life harder.
I don’t have children for many reasons, but one was the thought of a toddler with her hands up, crying and wanting mama to pick her up and not being able to, was more than I could stand.
I do have many nieces, nephews; great-nieces nephews; and my children’s friends who still call me Aunt Sandi. I can gauge my weakness by what I was able to do with each.
In my 20s, I could run and play with my brothers’ children, pick them up, hold and cuddle them for hours.
In my 30s, I could take them places where not a lot of walking was involved and I had to be sitting if I wanted to hold the younger ones.
It got really bad in my 40s. I had to be sitting to hold those babies, and I could only hold them for a few minutes before my shoulders and wrists would begin to hurt. I had to cancel a lot of play dates with those children because I was simply too tired to do anything.
These days, I have to keep children at a distance or I will come down with whatever cold or virus they’re carrying. This is definitely the worst, because all those children I love are having children of their own and I have to really choose my time to visit them.
Still, I’ve done my share of mothering children by listening to their successes and failures, giving advice when asked, being the person they could talk to about anything. I’ve dispensed hugs, given small loans, read stories out loud, had slumber parties at my house.
My job allowed me to spoil all the children in my life. I’ve taken children backstage at concerts, to movie screenings before it opened to the public. One niece has an autographed poster of the band Hanson after spending time with the trio at an outdoor show. Everyone has some kind of movie memorabilia. One nephew has a tape of Jim Cummings, the voice of Tigger who told my then 3-year-old nephew to mind his parents, say his prayers and remember to bounce.
The tug at my heart when I hear “Aunt Sandi” can’t compare to how being a mother must feel, but it’s something.
I am able to bow out of practically anything with a phone call and a brief explanation of what’s going on.
It is hard to imagine having to get up, stay up, ignore the pain and swelling because your child needs you more. I don’t know how mothers in a flare can stay on their feet or stay awake the long hours that are sometimes required.
How do mothers deal with side effects of a new drug, or find time to get a biologic infusion? How do they continue with a necessary routine day after day when their body is telling them to sit down and take a break?
I admire all the women who have children of their own and can tell stories of coping with the pain and fatigue that comes with our disease. I’m betting those same mothers wouldn’t change a minute of their time with their children.
I don’t know if the greeting card company who created the job description for mothering was Hallmark, but a recent Hallmark movie included a commercial of a young woman giving a Mother’s Day card to her childless aunt.
I like that idea. But maybe there also should be a card for mothers who must continually fight their disease so they can be the mom their children deserve.
To all those women, and to those who are perfectly healthy, I hope your Mother’s Day brings you happiness and great memories.