As the day is winding to a close, I am reflecting on what it means to be celebrated as a mom. It’s a day to be the center of attention, to be pampered, and to be thanked for our never-ending dedication and hard work. Because we know, parenting is HARD work. No matter how rewarding we say it is, no matter how much we say being a mom is our number one and most important role, it is hard (and usually thankless) work. So on a day like today, where we smile, sigh, and focus on the positives of parenthood, relish the sweet notes and hand-drawn cards from our littles, are sent out to be pampered or given time at home alone sans kids, or we get dressed up in our prettiest of spring outfits, do our hair and makeup (maybe for the first time all week), and we head out to brunch proudly holding onto and leading the tiny little hands that brought us to motherhood, that brought us to this journey, this role, this forever identify. Once you are a mom, you are forever a mom. How do you celebrate what has rocked you to the core and changed you and your life forever? Is it by thanking your own mom for being so wonderful and always being there for you and molding you into the person you are today? Or perhaps your significant other helps your kids make special crafts like a heart made out of their footprints. Do you receive flowers, chocolates, breakfast in bed, a home-cooked meal, jewelry, thoughtful cards with handwritten notes? What happens when your kids are too young to really know what’s happening or what the day means or little else than that you’re their mama, their protector, their ENTIRE world? How do you feel when no one is there to give you a pat on the back and say “good job, lad?” Are you less celebrated? Do you feel less good about yourself and your role as a mother when no one thanks you for everything you do or if they don’t thank you in the way that you want or need to be thanked? Asked another way, do you only feel valued and appreciated and celebrated when someone is there to say it to you the way you want to hear it?
Because whatever is said to you, whatever is done for you, it doesn’t change the fact that you grew a human inside your body, or inside of your heart, in the case of adoptive parents. It doesn’t change the fact that you spent countless nights pacing the floors with a fussy newborn or countless hours rocking a baby to sleep or watching your baby sleep. It doesn’t change the fact that you have been consumed with worry over parenting decisions, both big and small. Or that you have read every parenting article and book, wishing to be the best parent you can be. Or that you immediately ignored what you read and listened to your gut and your heart leading you in the direction you need to be. That you give and give and give until you are deflated and then you miraculously find another pocket of air tucked away and you give more. That you run on fumes and half-eaten protein bars because your time is focused on meeting the needs of little people and not on yourself. That every fiber of your being is filled with so much love for another human soul, that you might actually burst. And in the same minute, you cry because there is no longer room in your body for tears. Tears of bliss, of exhaustion, of wonder, of delight, of worry, of fear, of complete and utter PERFECTION. Because to be a mom is to be many things in your own life while contemporaneously being EVERYTHING in your child’s life. The sun rises and sets with you. Being there, next to them, reading books, holding them, protecting them, kissing them, smiling and laughing with them, keeping them safe and loved and cherished. Sure, we all have our moments when our patience gives out, when we could have put the phone down sooner, or when we need to refill our own buckets.
But the giving, the loving, the all-consuming nature of motherhood, does not change based on this one day. Your actions do not mean more than what they meant before because someone stopped to thank you for what you do day-in and day-out. The impact on your own life, on your little’s life, and on the greater energy and movement of the sea of mothers around the world, does not change based on how you are celebrated today. I did not become a mother to be thanked for being a mother. And while it does feel good to be thanked, it feels even better that when I lay my head on my pillow at night, I know that I did my best that day, that a warm little body was comforted by my presence while she snuggled to sleep, that the big little kid needed my words and perspective to process feelings, and that they are my greatest accomplishment and contribution to this world. And for that, I thank them.
However you were celebrated and thanked today, know that everything you do does not go unnoticed, not even for one minute of one day, by the people you do them for. Every day is Mother’s Day.
Much love and kudos and confetti and fist bumps and hugs and high fives and cups of tea and coffee to all of the mothers out there! You are loved and noticed and appreciated every day. <3
And I leave you with a few of my favorite mom images from the last year. . . .