In gratitude on Mother’s Day
Happy Mother’s Day.
Those are three awesome, loaded little words. Why? It’s too big. It’s too much. There’s no possible way to fit all the things that “Happy Mother’s Day” means into one day. That would be one ‘Mother’ of a day. I have an idea: why don’t we start using the rest of the days of the year? Yes, that sounds good. Let’s do that. If only it were that easy.
My first awareness of Mother’s Day involved presenting some picked flowers and a crayoned picture to my Mom. Growing up, it just became the day that we should appreciate, pamper and spoil Mom. It later became clear to me that this sacred day of thanking our Mothers had evolved into a marketing ploy by greeting card companies and florists to sell more of their product – cynical, I know. Sure, sounds easy enough – put celebrating our Moms on the calendar so we remember to do it once a year – check. Ugh. Despite my frustration with this commercialized Mom-opoly of a holiday, it was still worth buying into, saying thank you to the woman who raised me and greatly shaped the person I am today.
So, how do we celebrate Mother’s Day? Of course, companies tell us what we should do or buy for Mom. Other people influence us, too. Some ask Mom directly what she wants for Mother’s Day. There are as many answers as there are Moms, and that’s ok. Some will take what the advertisers suggest. Others might keep a running list of ideas handy – breakfast in bed, a cook & maid service for a day, to be queen/star for a day, someone to remove her entire family from the premises for a day so she can simply be left alone to garden or do whatever else she pleases in blissful silence without being interrupted – no, I’m not (necessarily) dropping hints here. Is there a box to check all of the above, please? That would be great, thanks. I’ve found every Mother’s Day experience to be different from year to year. Personally, I like a nice surprise once in a while. Because I’m the Mom, I’m the default Cruise Director of this Love Boat. I organize it, line it up and knock it out of the park – well, it’s a decent average on most days, anyway. On Mother’s Day, I list several activities as options I would like, then hold on and enjoy the ride.
Gratitude and Appreciation for our Mothers
I don’t know any Mom who will say becoming a Mother has not altered their outlook on life in some way. It certainly changed my perspective on so many things, including how I saw my own mother. I now better understand her words and actions, her motivations and decisions. And I am so grateful. Mom’s words don’t always sink in, especially when you’re seven years old and certain that absolutely every kid in the neighborhood is getting a treat from the ice cream truck EXCEPT you because Mom said no. Or when you’re 15 years old and know for a fact (complete with ‘tude and eye-roll) that you are perfectly capable of living your day, your way, without filling your parents in on the details, yet you are mulling this over in your room while serving a week-long grounding from Mom that feels like an eternity. Well, if I didn’t before, I finally got it. She would say, “Someday you’ll understand, maybe it won’t be until you become a Mom, but you’ll understand eventually.” She was so right. I also freely admit to wishing I could fire a shotgun in the air each time an ice cream truck drives through our neighborhood blaring its incessant, cringe-evoking music through mounted bullhorn, requiring yet another explanation to my oldest child why their product is not worth buying or eating.
Gratitude and Appreciation from our Children
It occurred to me that even my youngest children, twins who are just over a year old, already know how to say ‘Thanks Mom, I love you’ if I listen carefully enough. At any age, these messages are not always conveyed with words but sometimes instead with gestures, like the recent gesture of gratitude and appreciation from my son. One day after finishing a usual breastfeeding session, he sat up with the goofiest, milk-dripping, emerging-toothed grin on his sweet little face, gave a contented sigh and exhaled with a squeak, ‘gah-gaaaahhh’. At this point, my entire being was a puddle of sappy, adoring mush. And then I looked down. On my nursing bosom, he had left an impression of his little hand, an outline of his firm grip on a delicious snack. As if his smile wasn’t enough, I took the handprint as an overt symbol of his gratitude and appreciation for me, for his mama. I know: ‘it’s the milk, stupid’. You’re thinking, ‘ow, doesn’t that hurt?’ The answer is no, not really, it’s usually gentle and makes the milk let-down faster for him. I am blessed that he has always been a happy and eager nurser, but this time it was different somehow. I took it as a little bit of awesome, so kudos and happy early Mother’s Day to me!
Gratitude and Appreciation from our partners and family
Adjusting to life with a baby can make anyone appreciate the primary person (usually a Mom but sometimes a Dad – one love, yo) who keeps baby healthy, happy, safe, warm and quiet. Yep, I said it – quiet. Among other things, Dads miss sleep. A lot. They are grateful when the sleep starts to return after welcoming a newborn into the family. Don’t get me wrong, Moms miss their sleep too, but women have a (hormonal or other super-natural) ability to be more easily conditioned to less sleep for the care and well-being of their offspring – at least this is the theory in my house, aside from the superhero cape with a giant ‘MOM’ on the back. Yep, I said that, too. Dads and partners are grateful for sleep and much, much more. We hear about it when they say thank you for all the things they notice, big or small. I’d say appreciation from partners falls into that ‘doesn’t-just-fit-into-one-day’ category. Friends and family are also sources of support, gratitude and compliments for our hard work as Moms. ‘Your son is so considerate!’ from a girlfriend or ‘Your daughter is so helpful’ from the preschool teacher or ‘You are such a good mama!’ from the neighbor – all of these should be translated as ‘Lady, you rock. Have an awesome Mother’s Day because you are an awesome Mom!’
Gratitude and Appreciation for Ourselves
My own transition into Motherhood offered a whole new view for me on this Mother’s Day thingy. On my first Mother’s Day, I blushed when people wished me well. Baby in arms, I beamed a proud smile and let the compliments come. I had arrived! I was part of the largest sorority in the world and rush week was spread out over nine+ months, with the Grand Hazing crammed into a 27-hour induced labor – woohoo! Despite it all, I had made it; I finally belonged to this amazing sisterhood. I now appreciate all I do for my family in a whole new light. Who could have explained to me in advance, the tide-like swing of challenges and experiences Motherhood would bring? From the ‘seemingly-impossible-how-will-I/we-survive’ times to the ‘this-is-so-awesome-I-love-being-a-mom’ times, I have learned to appreciate myself and my family, not to mention a startling variety of my cunningly adaptive coping skills.
Gratitude and Appreciation from Other Moms
There is gratitude and appreciation that other Moms, even complete strangers, show us every day. The support we find in each other is a form of gratitude and appreciation. I will never forget an older woman who approached me while I wore my baby on a front pack in the depths of my 4-week-old, post-partum ‘what-now-blurry-eyed-silent-tear-fest’ I had going in front of the iceberg lettuce display at my local grocery store. She said with a grandmotherly arm squeeze and smile, ‘You are a good mama!’ Oh, the tears of relief! Finally, someone said good job – and they don’t even know me! Apparently, I needed that appreciation. So many of us do, and we deserve it.
Listen Sister (as in, sister of that awesome sorority, Nowa-Baby-Momma): if you aren’t grateful for the amazing woman and Mother that you are, it’s high time you started showing that chic in the mirror some love. I appreciate and am grateful for you. You are helping shape future citizens of the world, people my kids will grow up with, maybe befriend or become neighbors with, go to school or work with. It’s not just very important work, it is critical work. Now if only society-at-large, mainstream media and the commercial sectors would catch on.
Until then, we may just have to give ourselves and each other that gold star every day, be ready to see gratitude and appreciation in the littlest things, and to enjoy one adventure-filled day at a time. I celebrate Mother’s Day because I am grateful for my Mom, grateful for my family – the reason I am called a Mom – but darn if I don’t love receiving some flowers and a crayon drawing from my little ones.
So, thank you, Moms. I hope you have a very Happy Mother’s Day.