Happy Mother’s Day!… a little late. If you know me, you know I’m well acquainted with being late. In fact, it took me a while, but I finally figured out the true meaning behind Mother’s Day which I’m sure many mothers have discovered long before me… better late than never. You see, my first Mother’s Day was in 2002 when I was about 6 months pregnant with Alice. When that significant Sunday morning rolled around, I felt like I had joined an elite club and that I was entitled to some type of special treatment because of my soaring hormones and protruding abdomen – maybe a nice dinner out (preferably without kids once they were born), a bouquet of flowers, etc. The majority of Mother’s Days since and including 2002 have passed without such special treatment, and I soon learned that it was better for me not to expect these things to come from my husband mainly because they didn’t. I don’t blame him and am not trying to put him down. Gift giving is NOT his love language for those of you who buy into that trend of thinking, which I do—lucky for him. (This also makes the gifts that I do get from him very special!) In fact, Daniel would claim that with regard to his own mom and childhood, Mother’s Day went by relatively unobserved. So – let’s be real here – why should I expect a 26yr old habit to die just because I became a mother? (For those of you starting to feel sorry for Daniel’s mother, from what I can tell, her Mother’s Day celebration has evolved as her kids have grown older and have come by their own independent financial means.) As for me, I learned not to expect gifts or cards, but to relish Daniel’s words when he tells me I’m the best mother for our kids and also to enjoy the yearly excuse to eat out some random Sunday after Mother’s Day with kids in tow telling Daniel “you owe me one” with a knowing smile, to which he quickly agrees. It works for us.
However, over the course of this past year, my perspective on Mother’s Day shifted when I read about a mother who decided Mother’s Day wasn’t about celebrating herself – expecting special treatment or accolades, but it was about celebrating the fact that she is a mother, which meant celebrating her kids. In fact, for Mother’s Day this particular mom’s tradition was writing each of her kids a letter about the past year – putting the spotlight on her children, not herself. For without her children, she obviously would not be a mother.
This Mother’s Day I decided to adopt her way of thinking – going against how Hallmark and FTD would like me to regard the holiday. Instead of spending the day feeling like I should be celebrated for my hard work and dedication as a mother, I decided to celebrate the fact that I am a mother in a world where there are many women who desperately long to be mothers but cannot due to a host of unfortunate and seemingly unfair reasons. Thus I decided to celebrate my motherhood and the joy it brings me. I did this by spending the Saturday morning prior to Mother’s Day devoted to my children.
The first item for the morning was to express our appreciation of Daniel’s mother. We drove to a nearby store “bright and early” (Ok so it was almost 10a by the time we got there…. this is what I mean about being late), and Alice picked out a basket of yellow begonias which we delivered to Grandma’s front porch on the way to my grade school’s annual auction. Once at the auction, the playground was the first stop, and there we found the playhouse I used to play in during recess when I was Alice’s age, a mere 27 years ago. (I can’t believe it’s still there! Nostalgia rush like none other!) After wearing out the playground, we slid down the huge blow-up slide for 25cents a ride – can’t beat that! Next we headed inside where I watched the kids play carnival games such as plinko and ring toss, the kind of game where everyone is a winner. (While we can debate the merits of what this teaches our children, one morning of “everyone is a winner” is not going to spoil their sense of fairness or self esteem for the rest of their lives.) Face painting was next. Fireworks for Alice, and Ian got a moon with stars. (I couldn’t believe how still he sat – unbelievable!) And finally, if you must know how I celebrated me, I treated myself to my second chocolate milkshake in less than 24hours time. (I did have a significant amount of help on the milkshake from my small boy.)
And in the midst of all this excitement and activity, I enjoyed being Mom… kissing a boo-boo at the store, holding tiny, sticky hands while walking through the crowd, lifting my small boy up to the water fountain, putting shoes back on after the bouncy slide, finding the potty ASAP, opening ice pops and other delicious prizes for watering mouths and excited eyes, wearing the stickers that Alice wanted to share, holding my boy on my lap, and then carrying him when his legs where just too tired to walk anymore.
But as I think about it more, I celebrate Mother’s Day every evening when I climb into my Ian-boy’s bed. I sing him two songs while he puts his little arm around my neck as I lay beside him, and he holds me tight. “No, don’t sing Jesus Loves Me,” he tells me every night because he knows I leave the room after that song, so I stay a little longer, snuggling next to him. I don’t need cards or flowers or expensive dinners out to tell me I’m loved; I hear it every night. Happy Motherhood to me! I’m so blessed!
If you’re a mother, I hope you enjoyed the day – not because someone showered you with flowers, cards or chocolate, but because you have the privilege of being a mother.