Today is my first Mother’s Day. (I was expecting last Mother’s Day, but it was early days and in the wake of a miscarriage, we didn’t acknowledge it because we were a little afraid of jinxing it.)
While it’s my first Mother’s Day, it’s my mom’s 30th. And it’s true, once you become a parent yourself, only then can you begin to appreciate the work, love and enthusiasm your own parents invested in you. So on this Mother’s Day, here are some things I learned from my own mother.
- It’s OK to be goofy. My mom used to embarrass the bejesus out of me because she was always so exuberantly, enthusiastically into playing with kids (my cousins, the kids she watched in home daycare, etc.) Now that I see her with my baby, and I see his eyes light up when she sings and plays and points out the world to him, I think to myself, “Seriously, who cares who is looking at you if you can make a baby laugh?”
- Chase your dreams — even if those dreams are different from one night to the next. My mom did a good job of retaining her own identity as a person throughout motherhood, whether she was taking Tai Chi classes or painting or any other of a long list of hobbies and pursuits. I didn’t always (okay, let’s be real, almost never) get into them with her, she was a good role model for not letting her personal definition end at “Mom.”
- You can share half of someone’s genes and be very, very different. My mom and I almost couldn’t be more different. She’s wildly extroverted and never met a stranger; I am leery of people who talk to me in public and am decidedly introverted. She’s really involved in her church and spirituality is not really a part of my life. She’s whimsical and doggedly driven to make sure everyone is getting along, and I’m practical and often blunt to the point of insensitivity. This has been a rough road to travel for a mother-daughter pair, who both likely have carried dreams of giggly pedicure sessions and secrets and long phone calls and other *Gilmore Girl-esque (*never actually watched the show, just assume they’re bffs) sense. But love for your family doesn’t always take the easy, sitcom saccharine form we want it to. We have to accept our differences and love each other in them. This lesson will serve me well as my children become their own human selves.
- The most important skill for motherhood is just being there. My mom and I talked yesterday about what her mom taught her about motherhood, and it was, simply, “Being there for me whenever I needed her.” My mom lost her mom last year (on the day I found out I was pregnant with The Baby.) I know she misses her very much, and today is probably going to be tough for her because of that. While my grandma isn’t here anymore, she was very present throughout my mom’s life — an incomparable source of love and support and acceptance. My mom has been that to me, as well. That legacy of unconditional love is the very definition of motherhood, and is the same lesson my mom has taught me. I will live out my life trying to emulate her in that respect.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.
And whether you’re a new mom, a veteran mom, an expectant mom, a trying mom, a wishing-you-could-be a mom, a so-not-ready-to-be a mom, or a like-a-mom to someone, kick your feet up and eat ice cream for breakfast today. You’ve earned it.