If I can be half the mother you were/are to me, I’ll consider myself a raging success. Motherhood is not something I always wear like a second skin — unlike you, who has always been a natural momma, through and through.
Here are some things you taught me:
Take it one day at a time. Laugh at stuff. Be the life of the party sometimes. If your kid is having something at school, go. If one of your kids is pregnant, be at her beck and call. Always tell your kids the truth when they ask about sex, drugs or other hard topics. Give hugs and kisses at every hello and every goodbye. Let your kids know you. Talk. Listen. Listen. Listen. Don’t judge. Don’t get too fussy with your house – if your kids are taking up the whole living room with a Little People village that they just made, let them leave it out overnight so they don’t have to set it up again in the morning. Take your kids to the beach. Know that your kids have their own journeys that sometimes have nothing to do with you. Let your kids help you cook and don’t freak out when they eat the batter and make a spectacular mess. When you put your head on the pillow at night, sleep. Invite all your friends over, sit around the kitchen table and tell ridiculous stories — and let the kids pull up chairs and soak it all in — it is this way that they learn about friendship, conversation and how to tell a great joke. If you see a friend in trouble, help. If you see a stranger in trouble, help. Every now and then, ice cream for dinner is totally appropriate. When your kids grow up, call them every day. Listen. Listen. Listen. If your kids have to move away from you, let them go without guilt that they’re leaving you even though your heart is breaking. Grow, change, evolve. Share your journey with your kids. Read everything. Admit that you don’t know it all. Let your kids teach your stuff. Be hopeful. Honor your mother — she’s an honorable lady.
Dear Meg and Ben,
I’m so proud to be your mother. I’m honored to share your lives with you and to have you share in mine.
My little darlings, here is what you have taught me:
The biggest love I have ever known.
That when you were babies and people came over to hold you, I felt like I was passing my heart around the room as you got passed from person to person.
Patience almost always pays off, when I remember to use it.
People need to be hugged and told they’re loved after they get yelled at for something.
Yelling really doesn’t help anyone.
Sometimes you have to let Kid Justice prevail — he who wallops sometimes needs to get a wallop in return.
iCarly is actually hilarious.
Technology can be the enemy of family time.
Bugs and worms and dead, stinky things are really fascinating sometimes.
You don’t feel the cold when your clothes are wet on the beach if you keep busy building a sand castle.
We don’t have to wait until next time to rent bikes and ride them on the boardwalk, we can do it right now.
Kitchen dance parties are never not fun.
Eating dinner together at the kitchen table grounds all of us.
Daddy and mommy aren’t together anymore, but we can be peaceful and we can all be in the same place at the same time.
Letting you do things yourself is important, even if it takes you forever and you make a mess.
You already know things about my iPhone that I haven’t figured out yet.
Hermit crabs dance at night.
Stuffed animals like to watch TV.
Anything involving butts, booties or farting is really, really funny.
A couple of pots and pans, some water and a sunny day are the best toys ever.
Sometimes, it’s good to not get what you ask for.
A good belly laugh is totally contagious.
And here, my sweeties, are some things that you need to know about mom:
I’m still figuring this motherhood thing out. I’m not always great at it. I don’t know that I’m a natural. I’m a flawed person. I’m not always patient. I’m not going to volunteer to do every little thing comes up at your schools. But I’m interested — I want to know, as much as I can, what’s going on in your little heads, what your days are like, what you’re worried about and what you’re excited about. I will laugh with you. I will always answer your questions — even the hard ones. I will let you be who you are, without putting expectations on you (as long as you’re not doing anything illegal or too incredibly dangerous). I will always look in on you while you’re sleeping and feel the backs of your necks to see if you’re too hot or too cold, even though this gets on your nerves sometimes. I will make sure your faces are clean before you leave the house and I will shut the heck up about the fact that you insisted on wearing mismatched clothes because you wanted to put all your favorite things on at the same time. I will nag you about brushing your teeth, washing your face and putting your clothes in the hamper. I will talk to you about world events. I will pack you up in the car and take road trips with you. I will give to others and, while doing so, will involve you in it so you learn the joy of extending a hand to a fellow human being. I will give thanks before dinner every night and teach you to say your prayers before bed. Spirituality and religion are very personal things and I’ll answer your questions as best as I can, but honor your own searches as well, without the thought that you must believe what I believe. I will take care of my body so that you will learn to take care of yours. I will surround myself with great people so that you can see what real friendship and love look like. I won’t waste my energy with people who don’t treat me well, so that you’ll learn to respect yourselves. I won’t have an endless parade of men coming in and out of your lives and I promise to gently, carefully and slowly only introduce you to a boyfriend after I’ve determined he’s a quality person. I will always do my best to get along with daddy, even though we’re not together. And when daddy finds another woman to share his life, I will embrace her as another adult in your life who can hopefully be a loving role model to the two of you. I will let you know me as much as I can. I will work hard and be responsible with money so that you’ll see the value of this as well. I’ll say I’m sorry when I’m wrong, so you’ll learn that it’s not a sign of weakness to admit that you’ve made a mistake.
I think Mother’s Day really is a celebration of all women. We’re all mothers, whether we have children or not. We fret over people, we love big, we care deeply, we fuss over the little details of life that make things warm, comforting and special. We take on kids who are not our own and fold them into our hearts, protect them and guide them. (Yes, KCF, you are a beautiful example of this!)
So mommas, even though I know most of you will not spend your day with your feet up — you’re probably cooking, loading the dishwasher, changing diapers, getting people dressed, breaking up fights, shuttling people back and forth to grandmothers’ houses — I raise a proverbial glass to you. In my mind, I’m presenting all of you with bouquets of wilted dandelions, a proud smile upon my face because I know that you’ll graciously accept them and put them in a glass of water in the middle of the dining room table.
Motherhood is the only sorority I’ve ever been in. Girls, I’m proud to be your sister.
Lots of love from me.