My oldest child is seventeen. Seventeen years of Motherhood. In all of those Mother’s Days, I remember my first Mother’s Day as the happiest. The pure joy and excitement that I was experiencing with my new son, and the joy of having my mother and grandmother with me to celebrate my new milestone.
As the years went on and I had two other children, Mother’s Day became a day where I felt a subtle sense of disappointment-- like when you are done opening presents on Christmas morning. I think I expected to feel pampered and appreciated, but with three small kids, the day was pretty much the normal chaos. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED LOVED LOVED all of those homemade cards, and I still treasure every one. But on Mother’s Day, I never felt the love and joy that somewhere deep down I felt like I should be feeling. I remember being sad because church was so important to me on Mother’s Day, but my husband never wanted to go. On that day, I wanted him to go just because it was important to me. Since he wouldn’t, I would go with just the kids, and find that church on my own with three small kids was not exactly the peaceful spiritual experience I was hoping for.
Time marched on though, and although the the kids got older, my marriage disintegrated. I’ll never forget my first Mother’s Day after my separation. My children were 13, 9 and 5-- too young to plan Mother’s Day on their own, and it wasn’t a priority to their dad to remind the kids to acknowledge me on Mother’s Day. On that day, at our typical Sunday dinner with all of the aunts, uncles, and cousins, an avalanche of flowers and candles were passed among the women, with hugs and kisses and I love yous. In the midst of the exchange, my mother handed me a box and a card. It was a gift from MY kids, that my mom had purchased for them to give me. She had them sign the card. It was one of the sweetest, most touching moments of my life that she loved me enough to think to do that.
But this past Mother’s Day, the kids were old enough to take matters into their own hands. I got beautiful, thoughtful, homemade gifts from all of them. They didn’t spend money, but all day I could feel how important it was to them that I felt special. It was the first time as a mother that I really felt that they were CONSCIOUSLY trying to make me feel appreciated, and it was awesome. As I was tucking my little guy in to bed, he pulled a final surprise out from under his covers for me. It was a beautiful card with appliqued construction paper flowers. It had a beautiful message scrawled inside in his 9 year old handwriting, but it also had one of those worksheets where you had to fill out your favorite details about your mom. Once I stopped laughing at the part where he said my favorite food is “everything,” and my favorite drink is “wine,” what he wrote made me feel like a superhero. When he wrote “my mom always says be loving, caring, and kind,” and “she is super because nothing gets in her way,” I felt such peace that everything is going to be okay. My 9 year old is already an amazing young man, but I’m so happy that he remembers all the nights that I’ve whispered in his ear how loving, caring, and kind he is as I kiss him goodnight. I pray that he carries that sweetness into adulthood and my gift to the world can be these three amazing children who are loving, caring, and kind. Maybe that’s all that a mom really wants on Mother’s Day-- just the reassurance that all the work, all the tears, all the love, will have a positive impact on the world.