marlitha asks: My parents are separated. My mom is always busy at work, and when she comes home she never has time for me. She never asks me questions about my life (except to ask if I have homework). Everybody else in my class says that they love their moms because they always take time out for them. What should I do?
Hi marlitha –
There was a period of history when most mothers stayed at home and spent their time taking care of the household and raising the children. For many reasons, that time has largely shifted to a new age when many women have to work outside the home. It’s good in some ways, and kind of lousy in some others. And probably the worst of those is that those women often come home tired and stressed, and aren’t as able to give their children the love and attention they otherwise would (they don’t walk the dogs as much either, lots of the time, which really gets under my collar!).
Of course it would be best if your mom could spend more time with you, and I’ll bet she’d love to. But the most important thing for you to do is to know: This Is Not About Your Worth. She would be there more for you if she could. In fact, you are the reason she goes out and does all that work: to pay for your food, shelter, and care. So while it’s very frustrating and unfair that she can’t give you the attention that your friends get from their mothers, please know that she’s showing just as much love as those women are, just in a different way.
Now, having said that, I also agree with you that she should find more time for you. And in particular, she should find more fun time for the two of you. Hey, I’m sure she doesn’t like your relationship being about homework any more than you do! So how can we encourage that to happen?
Well, here’s one idea. How about if you suggest to her that you two have a fun day together on a weekend. Maybe you could go to an amusement park, or a beach, or whatever is near you that you two would both enjoy. And if a whole day is too much, maybe it could just be dinner and a movie. But here’s the deal: your offer should be this – that if she’ll pay, you will, before that day, make sure that your homework is done for the whole weekend, the house is clean, the dishes are washed and put away… everything that she normally has to worry about when she comes home. You’re saying that you want time with her so much that you’ll do extra work for the days before it. And you have to promise that, if you don’t get all that done, you’ll tell her the truth about it, even if that means the date gets canceled.
Doing this for her will show her how unbelievably responsible you are now! It will probably make her so happy and proud that she won’t even know what to do. And who knows, maybe then she’ll help you out a bit with that cleaning, just to make that week easier for you. And why? Because she wants that day as much as you do, maybe even more!
Now will this mean that every day changes, and she suddenly has lots more time for you, like your friends’ mothers have for them? Sadly, probably not. But it might shift your relationship with her a little, to where she starts trusting you about your homework more, and feels more able to talk with you about your life and hers. Who knows, it might get you two on the road to being better friends than even your friends and their mothers are!
Anyway, it’s worth a try. But even if my idea completely doesn’t work, if she doesn’t like it at all… just try to remember that all she’s doing is for you, and out of a deep love that you’ll never quite understand until you become a parent yourself.