Let’s be honest. As a kid, Mother’s Day feels like a big, splatty serving of guilt pudding. Thank your mom for …everything. Your mom works so hard for you. She cooks and cleans and does your laundry. She packs your lunch and fixes your hair.
It’s not so much about thanking her, as apologizing to her for ruining her life. Did it feel like this to you? You must ask forgiveness for being such a burden, to someone who does everything you can’t do for yourself.
I bristled at this. I felt like, Hey, I didn’t ask to be born!
When we brought home a puppy, we didn’t expect her to thank us for feeding and walking her, or picking up her poop in the yard. It was our choice. We picked her out at the pet store and brought her home. So, directly or indirectly, we chose to care for her too.
I approached Mother’s Day like that bewildered puppy, head tilted to one side. I tried to impress my mom by appearing thankful. I think I pulled it off. I mean, what Mom isn’t a sucker for a handmade card with doilies and glitter. But at that tender age, I began to feel the authentic guilt, but not gratitude for my mom. So, I continued my puppy-like ways of jumping up, running around and pooping, and cute, but in my heart the authentic gratitude was nowhere to be found.
But, when I became a mom, Mother’s Day took on a whole new meaning.
You’re guessing that after experiencing the hard work and sacrifice of being a mom, I suddenly understood, and instantly became thankful to my mom. Nope. Wrong. (That is a more recent, and very important development. I can’t brag about this pace. In that respect, I’ve been a very slow student.)
But, but, but!!! But, when I was a new mom, I suddenly felt the bliss of Mother’s Day! Aha, this is what the fuss is about. I felt that I was so, so, so lucky to be a mom. I was struck to the core with the miracle of being a mom.
And that awe-struck feeling continues to this day.
If we limit the discussion to simple biology, it is the parents that choose to have a baby. I always felt this responsibility. So, I never felt like they owed me any ‘thanks for your sacrifice’ vow. So, in that respect, they didn’t ask to be born.
But on a more celestial level, maybe they did. In the past several years, I’ve come to accept the idea that before a child is your child, she is pure spirit. And that she chooses her parents. I’ve read that a kid picks their parents based on what the kid needs to learn. Yeah, okay, I have no idea if that’s true.
From the other direction though, I do see something. I see that the kids might be choosing the parents based on what the parents need to know.
That makes so much sense to me!
My kids have been my most constant and brilliant teachers. They have taught me things that I have not learned anywhere else.
Their sayings are engraved in my mind, like “Mom, you don’t have to apologize or make excuses, if you are simply saying what is true.” “It’s okay to say No, mommy.” What?! Nuggets like this were news to me.
And in answer to how often should I call you now that you’re in college, “Call me however often you want Mom. I have caller ID.” Guilt-free living, stress-free relationships like I never knew before.
How did my kids teach me about sweetness and sassiness? They taught me how to have confidence in how I expressed myself, in my looks and in my fashion. They taught me how to organize my things and my life. They taught me about forgiveness and humor. They taught me how to love, and laugh; to hold on and let go. They taught me how to love without guilt.
To me the miracle of motherhood is that as a mom, you get to have a teacher. Maybe a custom-selected teacher that you have unequaled access to: a teacher that is there for you in a crash course 24/7 to begin with, and eventually as a limited access, distance course. There are few relationships in your life where you can spend as much time together as a parent and child, and especially have the physical closeness of mother and child. Really, how many other times do you have someone climb on your lap and be happy to just be there? Puppies yes, but people?
So, on Mother’s Day, whether or not a kid ever asks to be born, who knows? For me though, I continually feel grateful for these pint-size teachers that arrived on the scene and rocked my world. And I still have lots to learn, and lessons to look forward to.
Certainly, Mother’s Day is a day to appreciate our moms. As we grow older, we can let down our defenses and do this with a more open heart. I am learning to do this better, year by year.
But, toward my daughters, and all the kids in the world that are helping their parents learn, grow and evolve, I feel the guilt-free, Hallmark-card-free zest and zing of Mother’s Day.
It is my chance to say without guilt or hesitation, Thank You. Happy Mother’s Day!