When I was about 17 I thought I deserved a car. Once you have your license a car just follows – at least, that is what I thought. I think I probably dreamed about coming home from school to discover a car of my very own in the driveway. That dream never really came to fruition.
Can you imagine the devastation when I came home from school one day to find a Kirby vacuum sitting in the living room? The injustice of it all stunned me into silence. I cannot drive a vacuum to school or to my part-time, minimum-wage job! Why did my mom buy a new vacuum that has financing options available? Why now? Didn’t she know I needed a car?
I detested that vacuum because I believed it stole a car from me. Who cares if it sucks dirt out of the carpet that has been there for 5 years. What’s it to me if it cleans the mattresses? My mattress is just fine. I also was not impressed to hear about how the Kirby would help with allergens and dust mites. The Kirby and I ended up getting acquainted as I would often have the chore of vacuuming the floors. However, we never became friends – I simply tolerated the Kirby while my mom embraced her new tool with gusto.
As I look back on this story now I am embarrassed that I reacted the way that I did. Now that I have the experience of being a mom for 10 years I know how hard mom worked at home, at her job as a nurse, and that she gave so much in order to love us well. She was often tired, typically going to bed before the rest of us. And now I know that the Kirby made her work at home just a bit easier. And knowing what I know now I would’ve given her 10 Kirby’s if that made things simpler for her – or I would have simply changed my attitude – that would probably have worked too. Yet back then, if it had been up to me, I would have chosen a car for me over a vacuum for my mom.
Today, this is what hurts my heart – I was willing to keep from my mom something that made her exhausting work as a mom, less exhausting. Even now, this whole Kirby thing pains me. She poured herself into my sisters and I. I remember countless moments of her infusing our lives with joy. She was and is our number one fan. She encouraged us to be ourselves. She took time to chat and she was at every performance or game we were in. I could go on and on. And yet I didn’t think she needed a new vacuum that would make her work more tolerable, enjoyable, and efficient.
Today, what makes me sad is that I realize I make some of the same decisions today. The Kirby Principle is still something I wrestle with. I withhold from my mom still to this day. And I aim to do better. What my mom needs from me is different than what she needed when I was 17… or maybe it isn’t? Then and now, she needs to know she is needed, she needs to know she is loved, and if there is something that she needs that I am able to give – then I should give it. I am not talking only about Kirbys or gifts, but time and conversation.
To give moms what they need may indeed cost us something. We may need to look beyond our selfishness to in order to acknowledge and appreciate our mom in a way that speaks to her. To let her know you see her. Maybe it requires you to be silly with her, to read a book with her and discuss it, perhaps it is taking a class together or going to a concert with her. Maybe it is as simple as calling her at the same day and time each week. Perhaps it is taking her out to dinner – which can be done if you are age 10 or 60.
I don’t think we realize how the little things we do can embolden a mom’s will or encourage their hearts to continue the work set before them. I don’t think we realize how withholding from our mothers may make them question their role in our lives and whether their work makes an impact. The point is that moms need to know they are appreciated and to withhold that or keep it to just one or two days a year robs a mom’s spirit. Sons and daughters: don’t withhold from your mom. Husbands don’t allow the Kirby Principle to steal from the mother of your children, make sure they know they are valued today and every day.
A mother’s work is vital and so your acknowledgement and support of their work is also vital. When this happens in community it is a beautiful thing. If your mom is no longer with us, there are moms in your community that would do cartwheels to have lunch with you. If your mom is far away or if there is an emotional distance, there are moms in your community who would welcome a hug and a heart-to-heart. If you are a mom and you notice another mom needing encouragement and have the capacity to give to her – then go ahead and do it. If there are single moms in your community struggling – meet them where they are so that they can be the mom their child needs.
Encouraging mothers is not an optional endeavor. Celebrate your mom and the moms in your life this Mother’s Day in a way that costs you something – whether that is money, vacation days, energy, or time. And then do it again next week. And next month. Be lavish with your praise, generous with your encouragement, and speak your gratefulness so that she knows her work has value more than just one day a year.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!