Have you ever taken the DMC, “The Domestic Math Challenge”? It’s very simple really. You basically count how many thousands of times your kids call out “mom” per hour, multiply it by the number of chores, calls and errands you need to run, divide it by the square root of how much you need a minute to scream, plus 0.078% of the number of times your husband actually fulfills his hollow promises to help out, minus the radius of your humongous career-oriented dreams that went down the drain with your new cell phone. (Kids need to explore, you know!) First award for winning the challenge? Colored macaroni necklaces and a cardboard tiara on Mother’s Day!

My tendency to exaggerate aside, being a stay at home mom can be very exhausting; physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting! Plus throughout the years, your facial bone structure changes from all the painful jaw clenching you do when someone tells you “Awww raising the kids and maintaining the house is a full time job! It’s the best, isn’t it?”

Let’s get one thing straight! Being a mom is NOT the same as having a job! You don’t wear pantsuits and sit behind fancy desks. There’s no gossiping with coworkers over lunches that don’t involve funny straws and spit ups of puréed vegetables, and ummm hello!-you don’t get paid!

Even though we complain about it, and keep reminding everyone who’d listen how motherhood requires being a driver, a cook, a maid, a doctor, a teacher and an entertainer, it’s still part of who we are. Almost every woman on the face of this earth dreams of holding her baby in her arms at some point in her life. But it’s not a job you apply for; it’s a responsibility you willingly take upon yourself. An overwhelming 24 hours a day responsibility that devours your whole being and yet…Yes, here it comes: it’s one of life’s unique kinds of joy. (Wait, don’t nod and plaster a fake smile on your face yet! I’ll show you why.)

The Hidden Joys of Motherhood

Imagine when the first day of school magically coincides with an important staff meeting you can’t get out of, and your little son gives you the sad puppy-dog face and trots off, scared out of his mind he’s facing the world for the first time without you. Imagine missing talent shows, sports days and school plays with your child’s head popping out searching for you in the crowd. Your kids coming home excited or even frustrated, with so many stories to tell, but no one to tell them to because Mommy is at work. Or, pretending you need to use the bathroom when your boss wants to discuss reports and numbers, but instead you sneak off to call your daughter who stayed home today for some unheard of international vacation! Then there’s having someone else watch your baby giggle while you’re watching a video about the company’s annual review of blah blah blah.

We take them for granted, but those gasps of first steps, the cheers for first soccer goals and the thuds of backpacks dropped on the floor when the kids come home hungry and tired are the sounds that quench our emotional thirst. And once you miss them, they’re gone forever.

The Obvious Truth About Mommies

Now I know a lot of stay-at-home moms who never stay at home. They actually make it a point to schedule their hairdresser’s appointment the minute the school bell rings! I also know just as many working moms who are the best homemakers. They make sure they’re home by the time the kids come from school. And obviously we have the career women who know nothing about their children and the dedicated housewives who know absolutely everything, including their son’s teacher’s pet’s name! I think the difference between the four types isn’t the job, but rather the commitment and care given to the kids and the vow to put them first. Some moms work because they need the money, and they secretly envy you for having the luxury to stay at home. Some women feel having a stimulating and fulfilling career makes them better mothers, and others have the talent, and the time and/or the energy to do both! It all boils down to the feeling you have at the end of the day.

If you’re frustrated all the time and taking it out on the kids, then maybe you need to change your life and find something you’re passionate about.

If you feel guilty because your job is sucking you up, then perhaps it’s time to set your priorities straight.

If you’re bored or feel unappreciated, then maybe you’re focused on the quantity of time spent with the kids and not the quality.

But, if you’re happy tending to your kids’ needs, making use of the time they’re away and enjoying the time they’re at home, if you consider your biggest achievement is in how much you’ve invested in loving, disciplining and teaching them, and when someone asks what you do, you simply say “I’m raising the leaders of the next generation! What about you?”, then I personally think that makes you a ‘Supermom’. (And yes, we all hate you because we’re bitterly jealous.)

So tell me again, have you ever taken the Domestic Math Challenge? It’s very simple really. It’s the number of times your kids run to you when they need a hug. The mornings you spend praising and encouraging, the evenings you spend helping with homework, preparing lunchboxes or just spying on them when they’re out with friends. The nights you stay up with spiked fevers or panic attacks about tomorrow’s exams. The amount of joy that fills your heart when they receive awards and certificates, the ‘I love you’s and the tickle attacks, the movie nights and hopping in bed to talk about all the school drama, multiplied by the number of times your heart beats; the heart that cherishes every milestone and memory.

First award for winning the challenge? Pride and joy that no words in any dictionary can describe, and a genuine gratefulness for never missing out on any of it. And those macaroni necklaces and cardboard tiaras? Well, they’re on display in secured glass boxes in the museums of our lives, and we’ll guard them like priceless treasures for as long as we live.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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