What are the two words mothers need to hear most? Hint: not “I’m bored” or “not me.”
There are a lot of words that describe the motherhood experience: Joyful. Stressful. Chaotic. Hilarious. Rewarding. Enlightening. Humbling. Messy.
I’m sure you can think of more, but most people—at least most people who are moms—can agree that motherhood is a fast-moving experience. One moment you might be cradling your baby in your arms, gazing down at this miraculous little bundle you created, inhaling the magical smell of baby head, and thinking sappy thoughts about the miracle of motherhood.
The next moment, you might be Googling how to remove poop stains from upholstery.
One moment, you might be marveling at the tenacity of your tween. You’ll get that little glimpse of the adult she’s becoming. You feel pride and panic all at the same time. Then she’ll slam the door or call you “basic” and you’ll wonder if 4:00 P.M. is too early to open wine.
Yeah, motherhood is all over the place.
There are a lot of things moms hear on a regular basis:
“That’s not fair.”
“You’re so mean.”
“Where’s my (insert name of object that you are in no way responsible for but are expected to locate)?” And yes, of course your child has looked absolutely everywhere for this lost object before he asked you where it was. Riiiiight.
“Can’t you just (insert whatever undesirable or inconvenient thing you don’t want to do that someone else thinks you have time for)?”
“Do I haaaaaaaaave to?” This one might make you want to say, “Oh no, dear child. I simply asked you to do something because I like to hear myself talk and take great joy in nagging you. No, you don’t have to brush your teeth. Feel free to let them rot. You’ll grow more.”
“What’s for dinner?” Spoiler: Whatever you answer will bring on the scrunched up face or gagging noises.
“I forgot to tell you…” Because everyone likes being ambushed at 11:30 P.M. with something that needs ingredients or supplies that are not in your house.
All of these things are just part of motherhood, right? They go with the territory. We sigh. Sometimes we snap, but eventually, we just adjust our messy bun, slurp some more coffee, handle it, and hope we laugh about it later.
But then there are the things moms need to hear more of:
“You’re doing a good job.”
“I appreciate you.”
“Go sit down. I’ve got this, honey.”
“I’d like to help you with (fill in the blank).”
“Would you like wine with that?”
“I love you.”
“I’m taking the kids camping for the weekend—without you.”
“Mommy, you’re so pretty.” This is especially sweet when the compliment comes when you’re on day four of dry shampoo or sporting a giant zit.
But there are two little words that moms need to hear more often than they do. The two words mothers need to hear most are…wait for it:
You’re probably not going to get “me too”s from your kids or even from your partner, but this is something we can do for each other. Motherhood is often isolating. We frequently wonder if we’re doing it all wrong. We see other moms on social media, at the grocery store, at school, and at the park, who seem like they have it all together. You know the ones. They look like they just stepped out of a Pottery Barn catalog and you kind of want to smack them.
Those moms have clean kids who don’t appear to be sass-talking or throwing a tantrum over the fact that she’s not caving and buying them Captain Crunch cereal. Those moms don’t have that crazed “y’all gonna make me lose my you-know-what up in here” look in their eyes. You are certain those moms don’t have petrified fruit snacks or plastic baggies containing someone’s “accident” at the bottom of their purse. See also: their purse isn’t decorated with grape jelly fingerprints.
Or maybe that’s just me. Maybe I don’t feel like I’m doing it right. Sure, I have moments when I think I don’t suck. I’ve been a mom for 25 years. I’ve raised one human up into a happy, kind adult. The two younger ones I have at home exhibit all the signs of being smart, well-adjusted, all-around good human beings. And no, that’s not me being smug. I alternatively cross my fingers and count my blessings. And hold my breath.
And then I yell too loudly and say “yes” to electronic entertainment because I’m just too tired to engage with, play with, or argue with them. I microwave chicken nuggets and call it dinner way too often. My parenting mantra is “oh, was that today?” and, in spite of the fact that my kids are doing all right—better than all right—that little voice in my head whispers that I’m probably doing too much of one thing and not enough of that other thing. Forgetting something. Just not good enough.
We all need reassurance that we’re doing okay, even when we’re not. We need those “me too”s.
Motherhood is exhaustingly beautiful. Motherhood is also freaking disgusting. Anyone who has had to scrub poop from underneath their fingernails or clean up those little boy pee puddles that don’t quite make it into the toilet knows all about that.
“Me toos”s are validating and reassuring, and they are two words a mother needs to hear, probably more often that she hears them. So let’s commit to “me too”-ing each other on a regular basis. Instead of wishing the other moms in your life a Happy Mother’s Day, why not find some way to tell them they’re not alone? Don’t assume someone knows they’re not alone. Tell them. “Me too” them. We all need to hear that, no matter what stage of motherhood we are in.
If you want 90 minutes of mom-affirming “me too”s, grab the favorite moms in your life and come to the Listen to Your Mother Show at the Carver Community Cultural Center on May 13th. You’ll hear 13 stories about motherhood that will make you feel less alone and make you laugh. Stories of how moms have dealt with big rocks like illness and deaths in the family. Stories of how moms have dealt with lice, inappropriate comments, and that kid who glued his sister’s butt to the toilet seat. Stories of motherhood from the mom’s perspective, the daughter’s perspective, and even the son’s perspective.
You’ll laugh, cry and leave feeling a little less alone on this crazy train of motherhood.
Tickets are $15—roughly the price of a movie ticket—and proceeds go to help Clarity Child Guidance Center, which is a San Antonio nonprofit that works to help children with mental illnesses. So, do something good for them and for you. Come to the Listen to Your Mother Show. We can’t tell you how to get poop out of upholstery or to stop tween eye-rolling once and for all, but we can give you some feels, some high-fives, and all the “me too”s you can handle.
And besides, who doesn’t want to hear stories about how someone glued their kid’s butt to the toilet seat? It’s super funny when it’s someone else’s kid.
Purchase tickets online or at the Carver Community Cultural Center’s box office at 226 North Hackberry, San Antonio TX 78202. The box office is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 A.M.–5:00 P.M.