Today was Mother’s Day and without you, I wouldn’t be honored on this day. So, first off, thanks for being born so that I could experience motherhood.
Everyone says motherhood is hard and it can be. And I think too many times, we honor our mothers because they work hard for their families. I’m not saying that is in no way honorable, but I would hope that we would want more out of our mothers than clean clothes and good meals and getting from school to doctors or extracurricular activities.
And yes, motherhood can be hard because parents (both moms and dads) are trying to shape young people into responsible young adults. That to me, more than the free maid service, is the real challenge.
But here is the great thing about motherhood. Because of you, kiddo, I have been forced to take a long look at myself. I’m forced to confront my own hypocrisies. I’m forced to live a cleaner life. I’m forced to grow up myself.
I’ll give you a few examples:
1. I cleaned up my eating habits and started running. When you were seven, I found myself going up a pants size. Well, I decided if I was going to buy new pants, dammit, they were going to be smaller. But as I joined Weight Watchers and started to change the way I ate and think about the reasons I wanted to change, I realized I had a young girl at home that maybe I wasn’t setting the best example. So I included you, dear daughter, as a reason to shape up. Suddenly it became more about fitting into a bikini (although at 46, I’m still damn proud to do so.) Suddenly this became about teaching you how to eat by setting an example. I was proud to hear you refer to me at church as a good chef. Now you are nearly 12 and the two of us are going vegetarian together. I would have never had to courage to do it without you in my life. As for the running, I could have just kept doing Jazzercise, which certainly kept me fit. Last year, you and I ran in a little road race, then a second one. So I started running because I thought we could do it together. Now you aren’t running (yet) but I still am, because I found that I got benefits from it that I couldn’t at Jazzercise. Plus, I found a whole other cool community of people to share my new passion. I also found it to be a huge stress reliever. As much as I adore Jazzercise, it can be hard to think through the challenges of work or life or whatever with music blaring. Now I have both in my life. One day, you will too.
2. I give back more. I only started attending the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Clemson because of you. I didn’t need church in my life. I could sleep in! But then you came along and my biggest fear was that you would get to be about 15, have no basic understanding of any religion and you would end up with a group that I was not pleased about. So, when you turned four, I started dragging you to church. And, it being a small church, they needed teachers and so I started to teach. Eight years later, I still participate in teaching. Boy, have I learned a lot about religion! Nothing like explaining spirituality to children to force you to think about it for yourself. Now I’ve learned a lot about church and politics too, so it hasn’t always been pretty. I almost walked away at one point. When I voiced this, you cried. I’m so glad we stuck it out. I have important friends there (especially the ones under the age of 13) and so do you. I also started to think about the kinds of charities we gave to, and we gave more. Relay for Life was for many people, but watching you tear up on the luminary remembrance lap made me realize that we have raised a sweet and caring young girl.
3. I think more about my interactions. I figured out early on that if I used a hammer for all my interactions with you, we weren’t going to get very far. So I was forced to change the way I dealt with you, so that our relationship could get stronger and we would be less frustrated. I realized I was the adult in this situation and I could try a different tool to reach you. Guess what? It worked. You were happier, things got done and we developed a stronger relationship. So I try to remember to try different tactics with everyone in my life. I try to be much more empathetic. By seeing things from other viewpoints, I can better understand situations and find solutions.
4. I try new things. New foods, new trips, new restaurants, new activities … not only do I want you to experience everything life has to offer, I want to do it with you and Dad.
So thank you kiddo. Thanks for making me experience life better. Thanks for making me be a better person, both inside and out. And thanks for being the best daughter a mom like me could want.
Here’s hoping we have lots more wonderful Mother’s Days together.