We mothers, especially after a full day of taking care of our little ones, often get to the end of a day and wonder why we are so entirely drained despite feeling as though we have accomplished nothing of importance. This seems to be a pretty universal phenomenon. I began to wonder why. Let’s pull this apart and find out.
- You are the main person teaching this little being a language. Think of how much work it takes for an adult to learn a second language. We will often spend several hours a week practicing, learning the grammar rules, and perfecting our pronunciation. These new lives are learning a language from near scratch, in total immersion. No reference points. No other previous words to pair these new thought or concepts with. You are their day in and day out tutor and interpreter.
- You are their Cultural Liaison and teacher. Please. Thank you. Waving hello. How and when to share. These are all new to your little learner (older children often need refresher courses, too). Not only are you helping them figure this all out, you are often the one who smooths over mistakes and misunderstandings.
- On the other hand, a toddler can be one of the best personal trainers out there. Who else can simply say uh-oh and have you dashing the length of your house? Who else can get away with requesting that you do 30 squats simply so that they can feel butterflies in their tummy as they fly up and down happily shrieking “Again!”? Playing hide and seek or tag with a preschooler can seriously get your heart rate up. Family walks or bike rides, backyard games of soccer, driveway basketball, and an hour at the park or the pool are all forms of exercise.
- Let’s face it, their nutrition is a bit of a minefield. The toddler who gags on anything that has a certain texture. The preschooler who has suddenly decided that anything green is poison. The elementary student who declares that she no longer eats anything with a face. Discovering a food allergy. It all requires some kind of workaround. Whether it is a reward system for trying new food, avoiding too many snacks so they are hungry for dinner, or eliminating an allergen from the kitchen, it all takes time, thought, and implementation.
- The word Why. Why does the sun go down? Why can’t I have a pet spider? But, why?… Often the reply to being told that that is enough of the word Why for the day is “Why?”. It can be brain melting.
- As a child’s main caregiver you are their first teacher and their own personal encyclopedia, Google search, and thesaurus. Pulling random facts and pieces of science from the corners of your brain for hours a day regardless of what else you may be doing is quite a feat of mental acrobatics.
- Saying and sticking to the word no for the three hundredth time that day is wearing. Children are master negotiators. Well known for their tactics of persuasion. Holding your ground despite the sad eye treatment and possible crying is worthy of a high five at the very least.
This could be a mile long list if I just kept writing. However, I think you got the point. There are so many things that we teach and do for our children on a daily basis. Yes, there is the physical tired. More than that, though, is the mental load, the time management, the constantly being on call, the million tasks and preparations that go unnoticed.
As mothers, and anyone else who has the exhausting joy of handing over large portions of their time to taking care of children, we often look at our accomplishments after a day of running from a mini crisis to a need to a tantrum to infinity and see nothing of significance. In actuality a lot was accomplished; just perhaps nothing that you would have thought to put on a check list.