A Mother's Day Cause For Reflection

urlMother’s Day is special for a myriad of reasons. It is a celebration, for many, of perhaps one of the most influential persons in our lives. It is also a day that forces many of us to put our own “day to day” aside to spend quality time with family and mom.

Work/life balance. It is one of the tenets of what we stand for at Tanner Friedman and something my mom instilled in me. And lest you think there were any “free rides” in the Tanner household while I was growing up, think again. I was doing chores—room cleaning, garbage emptying, lawn cutting—through most of my adolescent life. I can still remember the “Work Chart” with all of my weekly duties affixed to the refrigerator door (or was it the back of my bedroom door where I would be sure to see it every morning?). At the same time, we were always encouraged to have fun—to be kids. I learned early on that if I got my school and home work out of the way at the first opportunity, the rest of the day was mine, for recreation and time with friends.

Looking back, I try to recall if my mother was able to truly practice what she preached. She did the traditional cooking and cleaning (along with office work in later years) while my dad served as primary breadwinner and handled the yard work. They both worked far too hard and I recall my mom often saying how much she looked forward to spending their golden years of retirement together traveling, relaxing, with time to talk and enjoy each other. It wasn’t to be.

Not long after retirement, my dad developed alzheimer’s. In November he was placed in a home back in my native Champaign, Illinois, as my mom, 82, was no longer able to care for him on her own. She visits nearly every day even though my dad mostly sits with his eyes closed and head down. I know she feels robbed of that time that they both worked so hard to realize one day.

As I’ve moved up the corporate ladder I know that I too have no doubt worked too hard and too much. My dad’s illness, though terrible, has been a positive wake up call for me to get out of work earlier; to put the computer aside and go watch my daughters play tennis or softball, grab a quick bite out, or enjoy a family movie. 

I’ll be forever grateful to my mom for instilling in me all of the good things about me. I also plan to continue to honor both my parents for their hard work and commitment to family, by doing my best to maintain a proper balance, just like I was taught. Sometimes, it would seem, mother really does know best.