To be honest, this holiday didn't stand out much when I was younger (wicked child am I, I know). In my earliest school years, we would create some craft for our mothers, often involving cut-out colored paper hands, markers and glitter. I remember one craft in particular which lies somewhere in a bin of my school accomplishments (my sister and I have one each which my mom has kept) that includes a pink heart and some sort of frills. I was maybe five when it was made and I'd bet it was another idea one of my school teachers had.
As I became older and my schools decided such things were juvenile or activities we could accomplish on our own, I turned instead to my mother. "What do you want for Mother's Day?" I'd ask. I'm sure she'd think to herself, "You know that's kind of like asking someone what they want for their birthday. If you're going to do something, you should just do it." But she would always respond, "Nothing." or with something I thought ludicrously silly: "A vacation."
After my sister was born, she went through the school projects, but I can't remember really doing anything of our own volition. Aside from flowers passed out during church (the pro of Mother's Day being held on a Sunday), the day would go by fairly unnoticed. Perhaps our dad would want to take her to lunch, but it still then was never fancy.
That is something that strikes me today. If anyone wants a job which requires long hours and a variety of skills, earns no vacation days and receives almost no thanks, become a mother. People will be thankful for you, but they won't always say it. People will appreciate you, but they won't always say it. People will love you, but they won't always say it.
This Mother's Day is more of a shock to me than usual as I think, "This could be the last Mother's Day that I am not the mother," and that half totally freaks me out and half makes me believe my mother is an absolute superwoman whose powers of strength, perseverance, forgiveness, protection and love know no bounds.
At this time I feel selfish. How do I learn to be selfless? At this time I feel unprepared. How do I learn to be prepared? At this time I feel incompetent, restless and reckless. How do I learn to be capable, calm and sure? How do I learn to always love someone more than myself? How do I learn to love my very flesh and bone outside my body?
How do I endure all the unknowns? Will he be healthy? Will she be kind? Will he be intelligent? Will she be faithful? What if there are complications? What if I become incredibly ill? What if they become incredibly ill? What if I can't help them? What if I lose them? What if I'm a really bad mother?
The questions and what ifs could continue. What finally brings some peace is knowing that I am not the first to have questions and I have an excellent model of motherhood in my own mother. She exudes calm even if inside she isn't. She has answers for my worries (even if it's only the very direct and seemingly unhelpful, "You just have to deal with it." Mom, keeping it real). She has been my biggest supporter since the very beginning, and I know the beginning wasn't the easiest time for her.
She has been with me through first pregnancy surprise, through my six weeks early arrival, through living kind of in the middle of nowhere, through tantrums at daycare, through first days at school, through family turmoil, through changing houses and schools, through frenemies and teasing boys, through peanut butter obsessions, through "What is this incredibly noisy thing you said is my sister?", through cross country moves, through final grades anxiety, through late night Harry Potter book releases, through piano recitals, through sibling fights, through broken friendships, through first relationships, through friend drama, through early "I need coffee before I even say hi to you" mornings, through friend deaths, through family deaths, through dog deaths, through first generation university applications, through moving away by myself, through homesickness, through "Do I belong here?", through "I can't do this," through "I miss you," through "I met a boy," through "I'm marrying this boy," through more moves, through "I don't know what I'm doing," through "I'm not good at this," through "What do I do?"...
She has been with me through everything and oftentimes knows me better than I know myself. She sees my mistakes but does not pass judgment. She sees my successes but does not overly praise me (much, anyway. She is a mom after all). She keeps me grounded when I'm too flighty. She raises me up when I'm in despair. She defends me against anyone or anything that could do me wrong. She works tirelessly to support me and my sister. She has been with me through everything and I've rarely thanked her.
This isn't a colored paper hand print inscribed with "Mom" and doused in glitter. This isn't a pink frilly heart. This post can't be found in your big blue bin. But it is a thank you, for everything you've given me. It is an I love you, for everything you are. It is a please teach me to be like you.
Thank you, Mom.
I love you, Mom.
Please teach me to be like you, Mom.
If I'm half as good a mother as you, I'll be just fine.