Commercial holidays such as Mother’s Day often bring with them an unwarranted level of expectation. Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of the meaning of what’s being celebrated.
At my 5-year-old daughter’s Mother’s Day celebration at Trinity Parish Nursery School last Thursday, I was given a card that simply read:
“I love my mommy because I just love her.”
Lauren’s message was so simple, but it warmed my heart and touched me to the core. Her message was one of unconditional love – loving someone “just because,” without limits.
And then just a couple of days later, Lauren helped to create one of those simple moments that has a way of sticking with you for many years. Before breakfast on Sunday – in between flowers and cards – as we snuggled in bed together, my Lauren told me that Sunday was going to be just “my” day. This may sound silly, but we had looked down to her toes at one point during this conversation and we both noticed how chipped the purple nail polish looked on her little toes, so I offered to fix them up for her. Lauren said with conviction: “No, Mommy. This is your day. You shouldn’t do anything for me.”
I have no idea where she learned that message, but her words and the feelings behind them made me pause in gratitude. It was then that I looked into Lauren’s blue eyes and told her that doing for her is the best thing I could have ever imagined I’d want in life. She then hugged me, but still declined the toenail touch-up.
This moment made me stop and realize the hard work of motherhood is rewarded in so many ways – with cards like Lauren's, with smiles and hugs from little ones first thing in the morning. It is also rewarded when adult children and their mothers have deep lasting friendships. My mother is my truest friend.
Perhaps I took special notice this year, but several times over this weekend I was witness to a simple yet profound familial bond in so many different places. What struck me so much was that these were the simplest of occurrences taking place between mothers and their children.
Standing in line at Dairy Queen on Post Road Saturday afternoon, I saw a mother and her 10-year-old son coming from volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. Both were dirty, sweaty and covered in paint – but clearly they had just shared a wonderful experience together. I watched the two of them in admiration, and thought what an important lesson this mom just taught her son. For all I know, they may work on volunteer projects every weekend, but it was the simplicity of the experience, and the humbled nature of mom and her son – working together to help another family – that caused me to reflect on the gift of motherhood some more.
With my own little family of three Sunday afternoon, we brought sandwiches to Southport Beach and enjoyed some sun and sand at lunch time before gathering with our extended families in the afternoon. I saw many moms walking in the sand with their kids, finding the perfect spot to play or just sit and relax.
A short time after arriving at my parents’ house in Fairfield, my 16-month-old nephew and Godson, Patrick, was as adorable as ever, but obviously not quite himself, nor was he giving his mom (my sister), Rachel Anderson, much time to sit and relax. Patrick had been under the weather for the past several days, and at one point on Mother’s Day, Rachel and her husband dashed out for a quick visit to Patrick’s pediatrician, Dr. Richard Freedman.
Rachel received a Mother’s Day card later that afternoon wishing her an “easy, breezy” kind of day. A simple and sincere wish that made Rachel chuckle – because clearly nothing was easy or breezy about this day for her, managing a sick baby and an almost 5-year-old who continued to test her patience.
As I sat back for a moment and took in the chaos of three children, chattering adults and gift opening, it struck me again. We don’t usually associate “relaxation” with motherhood or anything else that doesn’t come easy, but it is truly a gift unlike any other.
In the words of Sofia Loren, “When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.”
If I were to complete this thought, I would simply add that, for me and countless other women, motherhood brings with it a profound sense of gratitude. Even when we are tired, short on wisdom or reason – there can be nothing more powerful.