I sat down to write my yearly Mother’s Day card. It’s not as if I should be short of words for the woman who brought me into this world and, despite the challenges of life, managed to raise me into a decent human. Yet, every year I wrestle with the words, desperate to find a new way to express my greatest gratitude and perhaps a glimpse of understanding that I had not possessed the year prior. As I sat in that moment, that place between thought and pen meeting paper, I lingered. And in that lingering here is where I landed. Happy Mother’s Day Mom! Thank you for all of your inspiration and wisdom over the years, through all your lessons on life, I offer this.
I had always heard that being a mother is a thankless job. I went into the role with the idea that mom is equated with martyrdom. Mothers do what they do, there is no thanks, you just do it. Yet, this is the year that I came to know and understand, that parenting, that being a mother as I experience the role, is greater than any thanks that could ever be expressed. Being a Mother is in all the little and big experiences that go with the role. It is experienced in every bandaged wound, load of laundry, every sandwich left uneaten, every bed made. It’s in every sporting event, doctor appointment, birthday party, visit to the principals’ office and yes in every raised voice, every poorly chosen word, every regretful interaction, yes even there. Being a Mother, as I experience the role, is teaching about life, and life is beautiful, raw, and sometimes messy. Yet it’s real. And being a Mother is preparing our children to face this reality with grace, strength, tenacity, compassion and love with patches of tough skin. I’ve come to understand that Motherhood isn’t about being perfect, or providing a perfect childhood. It isn’t about never raising your voice or making mistakes. It’s teaching our children how to be a human being, fallible, beautiful, gracious, humble, proud, brave, and human. It’s about learning to fall, stand up, and sometimes fall again. It’s learning how to surround yourself with a strong caring community. It’s learning to make mistakes, taking responsibility, making amends and moving on. It’s about loving yourself and others in light of our humanness. And what better way to teach all of this than within the framework of our lives as a Mother, as a partner, as a neighbor, as a daughter, and as a friend. This is how I have come to embrace my role as Mother.
And as for gratitude. The real thanks is in all those small things that happen in life. It’s in the tearful thank you when you finish bandaging that wound. It’s in that little hand held out to you reassuring them as the doctor pokes and prods at them. It’s in the rolled eyes when you remind them how important healthy food is for their body. It’s in that lit up face when they slide into home plate. And it’s in the laughter and delight when they blow out the birthday candles a top their favorite cake. It’s also in that moment when you hear your eldest gently reminding your youngest about the importance of being patient and kind to a friend at school who isn’t being so kind in return. It’s that one morning you don’t have to remind them to make their bed. It’s there, in all the little things, we just have to capture it, take it in, and revel in it’s beauty.
It is also in the big things. Yet we have to be more patient for these. It’s when they begin to come to you to ask you the hard questions. It’s when they tell you that hard truth knowing that they will face the inevitable consequence. It’s watching all that you have taught them come to life right before your eyes. It is in the deliberate act of raising amazing human beings. They will grow to love themselves. And through this love they will make loving partners to the partner of their choice. Should they choose parenthood they will make loving parents. They will also be compassionate neighbors, kind strangers, all in all honorable humans. That’s where the real thanks lives. So on this Mother’s Day I honor the work of Motherhood, and to all that embody that role. Your work is the most important work there is, for it is the breath and heart beat of humanity.
So this year, when my children try and figure out the perfect Mothers’ day gift, I won’t tell them what I tell them every year. I won’t tell them that I don’t want or need a gift, that I only need them. This year I am going to tell them that they are the gift. The most beautiful of all gifts!
Happy Mother’s Day
Remember this life isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. Take it slow and steady, be gentle with yourself and stay hydrated.
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