Easter Way Back When

If you were a little girl in the late 70s and early 80s, there is a great chance right about now you are an “OVER IT”  mom. And by “over it,” I mean you’re over just about every aspect of childhood being hijacked by commercialism and marketing. Halloween merchandise  starts appearing in August, Christmas soon thereafter, and even birthday parties have gotten insane with the idea that stuff, stuff, and more stuff is the norm. Well thank God Easter was still safe. I mean, it’s a holy day. It’s kinda like, sacred. It’s special, and yet simple. It’s an uncomplicated spring day, with kids skipping around the backyard looking for eggs,  then maybe a drive to Grandma’s house to eat a spiral sliced ham, and eagerly bite the head of that chocolate bunny behind the clear cellophane. 



Easter, like every other holiday, celebration, and manageable childhood party, has been hijacked. Taken over by aisles and aisles of things. Big things. Little things. Shiny things. Wireless things. Now, it’s not enough to give the kids a little straw basket with jelly beans and cream filed eggs. According to a TV commercial a large retail giant is currently airing, my kids should wake up on Easter morning to brand new bikes. B-I-K-E-S. And iPads. And baskets overflowing with Lego sets, dolls, and DVDs. 

What the marshmallow peep is that all about? 

I cannot be alone in thinking all of us moms are overwhelmed enough. Are feeling ‘guilty’ enough. Are feeling ‘less than’ enough.  Are chasing a picture of holiday perfection that for the average family is just unreachable. And then the guilt with it? Don’t even get me started.  Not gonna go there. 

How about we just do Easter like how we were brought up doing it? What was so wrong with that? My parents put nickels, dimes, and quarters in plastic eggs and hid them around the house. Finding and then snapping open an egg with three quarters in it was the biggest thrill. And if you got the egg with the one dollar bill in it? Score! As little girls we wore matching dresses, bonnets, and gloves, went to church and stayed after in the hall to eat glazed donuts and drink OJ out of tiny cups. After, we went through our pink (un-monogrammed GASP!) fake straw baskets, digging under the lime colored easter grass, looking for chocolate coins, jelly beans, and if we were lucky, a chocolate bunny and maybe a  plastic bracelet or necklace we could wear for the day. We would head to grandma’s house, where we would swim all day with our cousins, between shoving candy in our mouths and waiting on the huge dinner she was preparing. At day’s end we were exhausted,  content, having had a taste of what our laid back summer would be like. Our parents  did nothing over the top special, no Pinterest perfect crafts, or hundreds of dollars spent. But yet I can recall a day that took place over 30 years ago with perfect clarity. 

Easter Day involved family, not things. Being together for a brunch, not getting on new bikes. And somehow, we felt loved and special without the excess. What a concept. 

This Easter, I will not buy into the buy everything culture. We will do our own simple thing- hide some eggs, open some candy,  go to mass. We will visit Nana, have dinner together, and let the kids play with their cousins. And we will leave the TV off, because I'm sure there is a car company airing a commercial where the Easter Bunny leaves a $65K luxury vehicle topped with marshmallow peeps in the driveway Easter morning. 

That Time a Man Told Me His Time Was More Valuable Than Mine

**This is not a male bashing piece (although said ignorant comment spewed forth from the mouth of someone of the male gender, stupidity does not sex discriminate.) This is not a feminist rant about women’s equal rights. I believe God created all humans equal- take that anyway you wish.  This is not a social commentary on income equality, or job equality. It is not about unbalanced or unfair educational opportunities for females (if I remember correctly I took the same SAT as the boy sitting next to me.) 

This is basically an opinion  (OPINION!) piece about the unbelievable ignorance a person can express in one single sentence.  

In this case, I believe it was ignorance of the value of motherhood. 

But before we get into that, let’s just choke on swallow the fact that ignorance comes in all shapes, sizes, races, ages, and of course, genders. Again, a woman could have just as easily shared with me these same thoughts. It just happened to be a man, in a most belittling tone, who wrote said ignorance in an email to me (which of course I find amusing, as I await him addressing me with that same statement face to face.) 

He wrote, “His time was more valuable than mine.” 

Let’s just let that sink in for a sec. 

His time is more valuable than my time. Period. 

The only causation being he is a working male, and clearly I am a bonbon eating, soap opera watching, school volunteering, Target shopping mom with a knitting habit. What could I possibly ‘know’ about real world things? Is my time mopping less valuable than his time career-ing? Where is the value in my thoughts of, ohhh, the cost of ground beef this week? There can't be any, right?

Now since a statement like this absolutely reeks of stupidity and classlessness, it also does something else.  It tells me he has neither a perceptual concept,  nor is able to compute, the actual societal value of motherhood. And also, that he is an idiot. I could go farther and say his statement has belittled an entire gender, but it did not. It actually belittled both.  See, there’s these wonderful things called stay at home dads. And now that I think about it, I wonder if he would have told an unemployed male peer that his time was of no real value? Now, let me ask, is it because I made a decision to ‘just be a mom’ that my time has suddenly lost societal value? Have I lost being able to address someone in, say, the business technology field? Talk about larger world issues? Have something credible to add even though I am not being paid for it? Is my time now actually less valuable simply because there is no monetary subsidy tied to it? Or perhaps  my OB/GYN delivered my brain right along with my baby’s placenta. Maybe this working professional, with his years of adult wisdom, could enlighten me with his breadth and grasp of real life problems. I shall wait with bated breath his reply- in my yoga pants-whilst holding a latte, cupcake,  and soccer ball in my hand. 

Unfortunately, I fear there are scads of  mothers seeking full time employment after years of being 'just a mom,' who will be forced to work with men like this. I am certain there are moms who spend their days at the office having to go the extra mile just to validate, over and over again, their actual  value, simply because their ‘mile’ is perceived to be longer, as motherhood took them off course for a bit. And I know for sure there are women like me who meet men like this -who in a flash- can make them doubt their own personal value as a woman and mother.  After all, we just take care of kids, right? A man who was able to make me, even for a few seconds, entertain the thought that maybe his time WAS more valuable than mine. Well, is it?

It is not. No one person’s time is more valuable than the next. 

Because true value is measured in your character, not your W-2. 

It is measured in your work ethic, not your work paycheck. It is the hospital janitor making minimum wage, so the surgeon can operate in an OR not littered with trash. It is the school teacher, grossly underpaid and working well past their contract time, just to ensure that 'one' child can read. 

It is all the invisible, intangible, and forgotten contributions so many mothers make to society that we are neither compensated nor praised for,  but still remain of immeasurable value. 

Our time. My valuable time. Sir, it is equal to yours. 

For me, it is measured in the care and time and years I spent wiping bottoms, not calculating bottom lines. It is my internal struggle to remind myself that my only true, unfettered, and objective validation comes from my spouse and my sons. And while I may often be tempted to look outside of that circle for my value,  I should refrain from going down that road of subjective judgement. That road, its course, its detours, the other drivers on it, they do not know me. They cannot put value on my time. I will not allow it. 

William Wallace, a patriotic poet living in the mid 1800s and raised without a father, wrote one of the most celebrated, endearing, and oft controversial lines in poetry ever.  An accomplished lawyer and writer, he still struggled to find validation amongst his peers. At one point, his dear friend Edgar Allen Poe even had to vouch for his friend, reminding mutual peers of their “failure to recognize any merit but their own.”  I know how he feels. Meanwhile, Wallace wrote eloquently and infamously of the value and merit of MOTHERS.  

You may even recognize that most famous of lines.  

“For the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”  

Now how do you value THAT?