10 Things Moms Really Want for Mother's Day
With Mother's Day just around the corner, you're probably looking for deals on flowers, chocolates, cards, or, if you're feeling ambitious, a knick-knack or pendant with some sentimental scribbling. Well, it turns out, you don't know moms. While roses are nice, and it's technically the thought that counts, the stuff that moms really crave can't be found in stores. From fair pay to recognition for the little things, here's a look at a real-life wish list for moms.
According to Salary.com, the average stay-at-home mom would make $143,000 a year if she earned fair market wages plus overtime and benefits. She doesn't. Instead, she has the same lot as NFL field goal kickers. She does her job perfectly a thousand times in a row and no one notices -- until she makes a single mistake.
Some experts recommend getting eight hours sleep per night for peak mental and physical performance. For new mothers, that's like recommending they find a giant pile of diamonds. It sounds nice -- and it's also never going to happen. In fact, research shows that nearly half of all new parents get painfully little sleep -- around one to three hours uninterrupted on average. This crush of sleep deprivation strikes just when moms need sleep the most -- while recovering from having a baby.
For mothers lucky enough to get pregnant and have children in the developed world, employment and income are among the few things they don't have to worry about. That's because every single one of the world's wealthy, industrialized countries guarantee paid maternity leave -- all except for one: the United States. As of 1993, U.S. women have been entitled to 12 weeks off to care for a new child -- but that time off is unpaid. Compare that to 43 paid weeks off in Greece, 20 weeks in Poland, 26 in Ireland, 34 in the Slovak Republic and 58.6 paid weeks off in Bulgaria. It's one of several benefits common in other countries but which are scarce here.
With no paid maternity leave, millions of American moms are denied paid time off to care for their kids. That means they have to pay someone else to take care of their kids so they can continue working and paying the bills -- which now include the $8,606 average annual cost of childcare.
Even when moms can afford to foot the bill, they often find that childcare is a loosely regulated industry governed by a confusing patchwork of state laws that are often terrifyingly permissive. In 16 states, for example, lead teachers in childcare centers aren't required to have a high school diploma. Just 21 states -- fewer than half -- require caregivers to have any child development training.
From dishwashers and latex balloons to bath seats and the very bedding in a baby's crib, new moms soon learn that their houses are filled with death traps that can choke, fall on, and poison their kids. In fact, purses, cords from shades and blinds, power windows, bath oils, and even the family dog all cause countless injuries and many deaths every year.
The disposable diaper revolutionized baby changing by letting parents toss used diapers in the garbage instead of washing them, reusing them, and occasionally impaling their babies with giant safety pins. The tradeoff is that with every diaper tossed, a new one must be purchased at an average cost of 20 cents per diaper. With 2,700 diapers soiled per kid in the first year alone, that's an annual cost $550.
Pregnancy, especially in the later stages, forces bad posture that strains the lower back, which is further taxed by the natural weakening of abdominal muscles during pregnancy. Changes in hormones loosen ligaments and joints, which are then put under extra pressure by the weight gain that naturally goes along with the process. The result? Moms everywhere suffer in silence as their backs scream in agony with every movement -- and sadly, it rarely stops when the pregnancy ends.
In a recent essay, parenting expert, blogger, and super-mom Katie M. McLaughlin wrote about a chore known as "kin keeping," which she called "the invisible burden that leaves moms drained." Kin keeping is the stressful, crucial, and never-ending job of maintaining relationships, appearances, and emotional connections. This critical task affects the whole family, but the responsibility for kin keeping almost always falls on Mom. It includes everything from sending thank-you cards and choosing holiday gifts to remembering birthdays and making sure the kids wear the outfit that Grandma bought when Grandma visits.
Moms have been receiving unsolicited advice and even criticism about their parenting for as long as there have been busybodies who are sure they know best. In the age of shares, likes, and retweets, however, it's grown into a monster known as "mom shaming." According to Reader's Digest, mean, vindictive, and public mom shaming can target the clothes your children are wearing, the time of night they're out, or the amount of suntan lotion you put on them. You're most likely to get it online, from other moms, from complete strangers or, sadly, your own mom.
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