Moms, ever notice that after you have kids, no one asks how you are anymore? Oh, people will do it in around about way. They'll ask "how is the baby sleeping?" in an effort to discover if you, poor soul, are getting sleep at night. I have even done this from time to time. But why don't people come out and really ask, "so, how are YOU doing, Mom?"
Some people do, bless their hearts, and if the mom is having a really horrible day and has had no adult conversation for a very. long. time, she will most likely word vomit all over the person who asked this unassuming question (usually the little old lady at church). And no one likes vomit very much.
Maybe that's why people are afraid to ask mothers how they are--because motherhood can be such a hard, demanding, isolating, thankless job. At times, of course. And we mothers DO try and focus on the other side of the coin.
I think that's why people ask: "How are your kids?" or in my case "How are the boys/twins?"
They don't want to hear about the ugly side of motherhood--they side where mommy confesses that she is tired, stressed out, surviving-on-coffee, irritated, and feeling invisible. So it is better, safer, much more pleasant to ask about the kids. After all, kids are cute, sweet, and wonderful all the time…right?
No one answers the question, "How are your kids?" like this: "Well, today they were really whinny, snotty, and clingy. My son peed on the couch and my daughter dumped her oatmeal on the dogs head. By the way, thanks for asking how I'm doing."
No, being the socially aware people that we are, we answer, "The kids are great/adorable/learning so much these days. Growing up too fast."
And we smile. We mean our "safe" answer, of course. But often it isn't really how the kids (or we!) are at that moment. And the well meaning person usually never follows up the question with how you, as the mother, are doing.
The thing is, I DO want to talk about the boys--I love talking about my kids. But the gracious hand of "how are you?" is rarely extended to me. Why is this? Though "Mommy" is a role I treasure and proudly display, is not the only "hat" I wear.
So, what is the point in all this? I suppose it is a this gentle reminder: Don't assume that because the kids are well that the mom is too. Being a mother is complicated and it comes with daily challenges and a plethora of feelings.
What if we challenged ourselves to do this: Next time we greet a fellow mom, ask how she is--really ask. She may lie (we all do) because it is hard to be honest about the maternal struggles we all go through. But you will know that you did your part to make that mother feel less invisible, or as "only" the mommy to the adorable children that you admire so much. A mother is first a woman--a beautiful, complicated, intelligent, emotional, sensitive human being who wants to be noticed and known.
And after you've asked about her, don't forget to ask about her kids. She might get mad if you don't. ;)