Happy Mother's Day!
“In my daughter’s eyes I am a hero. I am strong and wise and I know no fear. But the truth is plain to see. She was sent to rescue me. I see who I wanna be in my daughter’s eyes.”
Our jobs in life, the roles we take on, we all wear A LOT of different hats. I got quite a few myself. But without question, my most favorite hat to wear is my MOM hat. Yep, I love that hat. And with Mother’s Day being this weekend and because it just so happens to be MY MOST FAVORITE HOLIDAY I thought - why not talk about Mother’s Day and why it is so important…not just to me but to so many others. And if you haven’t already started thinking about how to make Mom feel special (hint hint my goslings) I’ve got some ideas for you on that topic as well.
What exactly is a MOM?
The definition of a mom varies not just from family to family but definitely that definition changes on a day to day basis as well. She’s a boo boo kisser, a pick-your-room-up reminder, a chaser of bad dreams, a taxi-chauffeur-get groceries driver and a clothes and dishes washer. She’s Supergirl, Invisible Woman and Storm - all wrapped up into one hot mess. Mom is the disciplinarian, the pushover, the whisperer of “Don’t tell Daddy about the new shoes and I won’t tell him about the broken window.” She’s the ultimate Kleenex, the supplier of hugs, the sounding post, the raging wind behind our backs, the woman that is sweet as molasses until you hurt what is hers and then, well you best sleep with one eye open. She is the Alpha, the leader of the pack, the heartbeat of the family. She’s your mom. Pretty amazing…
Different Types of Moms
There are a lot of different types of Moms and to be honest, I could write all day and not even come close to touching on the many different Moms out there. So I broke it down into categories that every Mom in some way shape or form can connect with.
Moms of Newborns/Infants
This is one of my favorites because really you are just coming into the realization of the awesome scary responsibility that you’ve been given. This tiny little being is dependent on you for everything. You’ll recognize these Moms perhaps by the sleep deprived eyes or by the sheer joy they find in their little bundle sitting up all by themselves. Their children are easily recognizable because they will have on clothes that are clean and matching and completely impractical. Moms of newborns and infants are generally constantly smiling because not only are they in love with their child but they have no idea of the torture that tiny bundle of joy is going to put them through down the road. So congrats and Godspeed to all of you new mommies out there!
Moms of Toddlers
Ahhhh…Oh how I remember and relish these days. NOT. I had three that were three and under and let me tell you, it is hard to be the Mom to a toddler. You’ll know her in a heartbeat - not by sight but by her voice. She’s the one that keeps saying “No.” “No No.” “Come back here!” Or some variation of those phrases. She’s the one with a dirty Kleenex in her pocket, a handful of lollipops in her diaper bag and that dazed expression that wonders how on earth her beautiful sweet baby Joey turned into the Whirling Dervish that is pulling every book off the shelf. In someone else’s house. With chocolate covered fingers. Yeah, Moms of toddlers are prayers to the God of nap time and bedtime and typically covet just five minutes of peace. Five minutes. They are worker bees for sure, those Mamas of toddlers and a stiff spine and at times a stiff drink will get you through those years. Keep on keepin on momma bear!
Moms of Elementary Age Children
This is a time when I think you start to see the evolution of whom a Mom is to become. A virtual Charles Darwin transmutation of Motherhood. Moms of elementary age kids start off at the kindergarten stage with tears and shredded kleenex and “I can’t believe that my baby is going to school” and “What am I going to do”. As this progresses into first, second, third grade and beyond you’ll find Mom has evolved from tearful good-byes, following the bus to school and gourmet made-with-love lunches to hurry up you’re going to miss the bus and here’s a frozen Uncrustable for lunch. Since when do you not like grape jelly? Shrug - eat it anyway. Gone are the tears and you’ll see her start to come out of her cocoon and figure out this next stage of excitement and learning for her little cherub and oh the places I’ll get to see you go! Learning to read, learning to do math, learning about playground rules and social etiquette. It sets the stage for the upcoming years for both Mom and her children. I’ve labeled it The Calm Before The Storm….
Moms of Tweens
Oh those tween years (for the record - tween? Really? Ridiculous word but hey - I’m hip with the times…). Those magical years between about the ages of 9 and 14 where our children and their minds and their bodies and their mouths are all changing. And it is NOT awesome for us Moms. Our children become more private, they certainly KNOW EVERYTHING and are not afraid to let us know that they know it all. These moms may be recognized by the constant eye rolling - wait that’s the kids. This is a time when Moms of Tweens are more often heard long before they are seen (Are you listening to me!) as they navigate the channel of their babies stepping their big toe into the pond of adulthood and all the pleasant and not so pleasant accoutrements that comes along with it. Not an easy job for us Moms to be standing on that shore with them, wondering if we gently guide them and hold their hand to check the depth or if we give them a big shove from behind and hope they figure out how to swim. Tough times for us Moms of Tweens.
Moms of Teenagers
I consider myself pretty much an expert on this one because I currently have three teens. Yep, you read that correct. Three teenagers at home. And the best words I have to describe Moms of teens - fearful. I have found there is a lot of fear at this stage. You have essentially started to boot that baby gosling from the nest and the whole time you fearfully repeat the mantra ‘please know how to fly, please know how to fly’. Our jobs as primary caregivers and rescuers and problem solvers in many ways is dying a slow death and it’s that time when we see if all of our nagging found a home. Will they make good choices?Please let her make good choices.Will they believe in themselves?Please let him see all the good in himself that I do.Will they get hurt?Oh how I wish I could take away the pain. It is the hardest time as a Mom in my opinion because you are letting go. And you can only hope, pray, beg with every cell in your body that you have given them all the tools in their toolbox to be great in the next phase of their life. Lots of fear, lots of worry. Lots of Titos…Wait - did I say that out loud????
Moms of Adults
One of the most rewarding parts of being a Mom is when you are a Mom of adult children. Your role transitions somewhat into that of mentor and/or to that of a friend and you connect on a level that is entirely different. You’ll know these Moms right away because they are typically glowing from the inside out as they listen to their adult children say “Mom, you were so right.”“Mom, I wish I’d listened to you.”“Mom, is this what you meant when you said you hoped I had a child that was just like me??? I am so sorry.” These Moms still provide guidance and support, are a voice of counsel and reason and experience and wisdom. But it is a time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. And know that whereas you weren’t a perfect mother you did the very best you could. And to have been blessed to watch the story unfold - well, it’s a gift.
Moms of Children that have Passed
Some of you I know fall into several of these categories. And too many of you fall into this one. And I am sorry. Moms that have had to let go of their children know that IT IS NOT JUST for your children to pass before you. It’s not fair. And these moms have been cheated out of chapters. Moments. Memories. Firsts. Mother’s Day is a bittersweet holiday because although they are still a Mom whether their child is alive or deceased, there is no precious son or daughter to hold in their arms, the missing voice of their child saying “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom”. They have the honor of being a Mom this Mother’s Day but without the gift of their child, the present of their presence to share it with. Whether they lost an only child or they lost a sibling to their children, it is a loss that has a tremendous impact on their identity as a mother.
Honoring Mom this Mother’s Day
There are so many ways that we can honor Mom this Mother’s Day. I’m not talking about spending a lot of moolah because I think for the most part, Moms just want to know that they are appreciated, that you GET what they bring to the table, that you understand that being your mom is the best, worst, hardest, most gratifying, least satisfying, most wonderful gift in the world to her. So take some notes.
1. Write her a letter.
Stop rolling your eyes and hear me out. Hallmark is great but don’t let them do the work for you. Take a moment, ask mom for a piece of paper and pen and write her a letter. Make her a list of 10 things I love about Mom. Put some thought and effort into it and let her know what she means to you and why. I promise you - there is not a Mom out there that wouldn’t treasure your words for the rest of her life. And it costs you nothing but your time.
2. Make her a garden stone.
This is a great idea for dads especially to do with younger kids. They have the kits everywhere from Walmart to Michaels. The kit comes with the mixture - just add water and pour into a mold. I use cheap tin pie plates because you can throw them away afterwards but there are other options available. Let the kids decorate them individually and present to Mom on Mother’s Day. My kids have done these for me almost every year and it’s one of my most favorite things to place around my gardens in the spring time. Cheap, easy and a little piece of you to share with Mom.
3. Do what she does.
Whether your Mom does all the laundry, does the dishes, is the vacuum police, whatever it is - do it for her. Get up early and put the coffee on. Make her breakfast or simply let her sleep in and take care of everything so that she can come down in the morning and just read the paper. Quietly. Let her go for a run, make it easy for her to go for a run. Go get the groceries and put them away the way she wants it done no matter how impractical you might find it. Be like Mom. Showing her that you know what she does shows her that it is important to you. And, if you have to, FAKE IT. As long as the end result is the same, fake it til you make it if it puts a smile on Mom’s face.
4. Clean out her car.
Vacuum under the seats, scrub the mats, throw away the Dunkin Donuts cups, wash it, wax it, make her 2003 Saturn Ion look a little less pathetic. And do it with a smile on your face because grumbling and stomping will only make her mad and defeats the purpose. Do it out of love for your mom because trust me - she’s cleaned up LOTS of your messes.
5. Spend time and reminisce with her.
With all Moms, this is something that is invaluable. Talk about the remember when’s, the good times, the memories that you made together. Especially those that have Moms that are older, this is such a gift. Help her to remember the times that stick out in your mind, times that mattered to you. I don’t care if it’s an hour, a half a day, 30 minutes. Give her your time and your memories.
Giving Back to Moms That Have Lost
Every now and again an opportunity falls in your lap and, if you’re lucky, you are aware enough to take advantage of the opportunity. Not long ago, a non-profit organization called Banner of Love, Inc. reached out to Everlasting Memories about an opportunity. An opportunity to give back to mothers. Mothers that have lost children to addiction. And it got our attention.
A lovely woman by the name of Joy called and told about Banner of Love and how they provide flowers for the children’s birthdays as well as on their date of passing. She explained that they were hosting a Mother’s Day Tea this year. It’s a full lunch tea and it is to be a tea to honor many of these Mom’s. And wouldn’t it be wonderful it they had some sort of commemorative gift to give them in memory of their children. As Joy gave more information she said something that was so humbling and so true - “I believe that regardless of how a child dies is not the issue in this matter, but that a mother has to bury her child. She should never feel ashamed and sadly they are.” And we were fully on board with helping.
Build the Banner of Love First Annual Mother's Day Tea
A beautiful Gem Heart keepsake was selected and each child’s name was engraved on the back as well as their birth dates. 23 beautiful hearts to hopefully help comfort the hearts of 23 Moms whose hearts have been broken. And we were humbled and grateful to have been able to play a part in such a gift.
Mother’s Day in my world
I love Mother’s Day. It’s my most favorite holiday of the year because it’s the role in my life that I feel is the most important. The most thankless and the most rewarding. In my heart, I consider being a Mom both a gift and a curse (depending on the day) and it’s a day that just celebrates Me in our family. I mean - I even share my birthday with my sister so c’mon - give me this day.
My own goslings are well aware of how important Mother’s Day is - trust me. We’ve had many a Mother’s Day that have been epic fails and they have it down to a pretty good science now. There is no fighting or arguing - or I tell Daddy. I don’t do any chores and I shouldn’t have to ask - or I tell Daddy. Everyone is happy and smiling and full of rays of sunshine no matter what or - you guessed it - I tell Daddy. I always have to ‘tell Daddy’ at least once to get the day started off on the right foot but typically after that - well, it’s a great day!
I love cards. Doesn’t matter if they were made by Hallmark or handwritten on the back of the grocery receipt you’d better have one there for me, on the kitchen island, ready to be read, cried over and enjoyed. And I don’t need gifts. I just want time. We may do garden stones, I may get some time alone by myself to do yard work, what have you. But just make the day about me.
This year we happen to be celebrating Mother’s Day at my home away from home - the gym - as they are migrating to a bigger facility. And all my babies will be home, we will be spending the day helping someone that we love. And we will be TOGETHER. And that is the best gift that I could ask for on Mother’s Day.
And my Mom. She’s the best. All 5’1” of her. She is a little dynamo and without question, my role model and one of my closest friends and I love her more than Sriracha sauce on scrambled eggs. I am never with her on Mother’s Day but she always gets a card, we talk on the phone every day and typically I get her a little something. 2017 Mother’s Day - Bissel Steam Vac. She’s happy, I’m happy. Win win for both of us.
This will be my sister’s second Mother’s Day after her son’s death. And I have learned that it doesn’t matter if it’s the first year or if it’s the eighth year, it hurts just the same. It’s not a “Happy Mother’s Day” kind of day for her. But I will most certainly remember her, reach out to her and honor her as a Mom because she will forever be Colton Rohlf’s mom. And she needs to know that her family recognizes that and honors what she will tell you is the most important job title she’s ever had - Mom to Colton.
This Mother’s Day take a moment and truly thank your Mom. I don’t care if it’s the mom that gave birth to you, a stepmom, a guardian, a mother-in-law, a godmother, whomever. Take the time, find the words and celebrate all the many hats they wear and the sacrifices they make for their children. Show Mom a little love and let her know how grateful you are to have her in your life.
“That’s what mamas do.
They raise you, ground you, build their whole world around you…
And they’ll carry the weight of your world too.
That’s what mamas do.”