This is the time of year when we moms kind of awkwardly accept cards and flowers and breakfasts in bed because, somehow, this is what men and children think moms want. And it is sweet and we love our families and we appreciate their kind words. But we also feel a little silly. Because we are Mom and it’s our job and who knows if we’re even doing right?
No one knows, really, if you’re doing it “right.” But there are some things I do know about you just because you are called mom.
I know that you were surprised by how freaking hard it is to have a newborn. Not only were you sleep- deprived and covered in goo, but you couldn’t figure out how you might ever find your way out of the darkness that is the newborn cave and crawl your way back toward your old self.
And I know that at the same time, you were petrified of leaving that baby with anyone else because even if you had no clue what you were doing, you were also all in and crazy protective of that tiny lump of humanity you made.
I know that you sometimes think things like “I would like just one day where no one says ‘mommy’ 187 times in a row without taking a breath.”
And then, late at night after the kids are in bed and you have chocolate and/or wine, you think of your friends and family who couldn’t or didn’t have children. Or, even worse, the ones who’ve lost a child and then you take back all those frustrated thoughts and maybe even sneak into their rooms just to watch them take one more breath.
I know that when people at work without kids complain about how tired they are, you think, “oh my GOD, you have no idea. If only you could see what my night is like.” But you don’t because you are a grown-up and a professional and it wouldn’t matter anyway. You just do your job with a vague sense of mom guilt and then make dinner and supervise homework and fall into bed.
I know that when your husband comes home from work and you’ve just finished yet another round of Stay-at-Home-Mom chauffer/maid/volunteer roulette, you wonder if anyone will ever respect you again if you only wear yoga pants for the rest of your life. But you don’t ask anyone what they think because you are a grown-up and you own your life choices and it wouldn’t matter anyway. You just take care of your household with that same vague sense of mom guilt… and then make dinner and supervise homework and fall into bed.
I know you mentally berate yourself for your extra-jiggly parts or your deflated parts or the parts no longer in the same place. No one should be aware of fat on their back, right?
But I also know that when your kids were asked to fill out their mother’s day lists they said you were “snuggly” or “gave kisses” or “hugs me.” Which is kid-speak for “you are a soft place to land, to find comfort, and to feel unconditional love.” Not one of them mentioned your back fat.
I know that you cannot let go of that time you yelled at your kids for their behavior in a store or at their grandparents’ house and you worry that they will remember it forever. And they might. But they will probably think it’s funny and only bring it up to mess with your head. Because children are like that.
I know that, logically, you recognize that your kids’ youth soccer ability as having little to no relevance in their lives. But I know that you are also ridiculously proud when they score a goal on the kid who was making a daisy chain.
I know that you don’t really want or need any more school-made cards or ornaments or works in clay. And that you are trying to find a way to dispose of them without breaking anyone’s heart. Except that then you sigh and think of how they will grow up and leave you so you put them somewhere safe where you can look at how tiny they once were. Stupid school crafts.
I know that every single day you love your babies. They drive you crazy and they test your limits of patience and they destroy everything nice in your home. And yet nothing lifts your heart more than a pudgy hug that leaves handprints on your shoulders.
I know that when your child is sick your world stops. And that when they are just a little bit sick, you revel in the sweaty head tucked under your chin and the particular heavy weight of a child who is really, really asleep.
I know that sometimes, when you think about the future, all of the fears and unknowns of their lives almost overwhelm you and you feel short of breath for a few minutes.
I know that you would give anything to ensure their future health and happiness, but that you also know that isn’t possible. And somehow it is all worse that you would gladly lay down your own life for theirs, but no one is ever going to ask you to do so.
I know that there is no one on earth over whom you will ever have as much influence as you do over your children.
And I know that that thought both terrifies and inspires you all at the same time.
I know that you had no idea what you were signing up for when you became a mom, but that you cannot imagine the person you would be without ever having kids. I know that is true even though you have absolutely no problem imagining being alone…on an island…with chocolate…and a drink with an umbrella…for maybe a week or so.
I know that you are trying. Really, really trying to do this whole mommy thing exactly right. Except that there is no right and the fact that you’re really trying is the biggest part of getting it as close to right as possible.
I know that you need other moms--for advice, for commiseration, and just for a break from talking about Jake and the Neverland Pirates. And every now and then, you also need them to tell you you’re doing a good job.
So, here it is from me. You are doing a good job, your babies think the sun rises and sets on you, and you are exactly what your kids need.
Happy Mother’s Day