This year for my Birthday I got the usual birthday wishes and kisses and some super thoughtful gifts. Gifts that my kids for the first time purchased all by themselves without prompting or being given money. Most of them work now so they have their own money. Although I did love the gifts, it was something else that made me so happy. Something that I feel will be the thing I remember about 47. It was what they wrote in the cards they bought that makes me love them even more.
My daughter wrote how happy she is that I am her mom and how much it meant to her that I loved her gifts. I always love them but she thought of them so I imagine it means more because of that. All the firsts of motherhood came with her and that is something only the first child can claim. So many firsts that I tried to make a big deal of and cheer about and encourage. Many hard days had me wondering if she thought I was a good mom even on the days where I was the “Mean Mom”… she did think that and every kiss and every word she wrote in my card tells me I am so lucky that she was my first child. The one who imprinted what mother – child love is and helped me to love my sons like only a mother can. Thank you Katy for being my first baby!
My youngest son wrote how lucky he feels to have me as his mother and how spoiled he feels he is because of what I sacrifice to make sure they are well cared for and yes, spoiled. Sometimes I have wondered over the years if they know how much I try to give in the day to day so they will someday realize as they have children that A) it can be done B) it is a sacrifice made from love. As I read those words I realized, he knows. So much love reading those words that were unsolicited and written in the neatest print with thought and care to each thing he wanted to say. Thank you James for noticing and appreciating and being the best last baby I could ever ask for. You have taught me so much about love and perseverance and being tough. I admire you and I am a better person because of you.
What my oldest son wrote touched me most. He is headed to college in the fall and I am dreading it. I miss him already and worry about him because I won’t be there. Not because I feel like he can’t take care of himself because I know he can and will…I just feel sad that he’ll be without his family and I’ll be without him for days on end…perhaps weeks. What he wrote made me cry tears of happiness because I know he’s ready to leave and be on his own and I helped prepare him for that. The son who still calls me Mama, maybe because he knows I love it so, wrote three things that to me are the foundational successes that you want your children to reach.
He wrote that he is not “scared” to leave because he feels I did a good job preparing him to be out in the world. He wrote that he knows that I helped him be the man that he WANTS to be (not the man he could be) who is as caring about others as he is of himself. Good boy..you make me so proud. He also wrote that although he will be away from his home that he will always come back to his “safe place” and that he knows the door is open always. I just smile thinking about these thoughts that he wrote in my birthday card. He must know how hard his leaving is for me even though I try not to dwell on it. I don’t want him to be sad. Apparently it’s all ok but he knows in his heart and somewhere deep down I think he’ll be sad about leaving me too. I will miss him so. You are my first son Johnny and you have taught me how to never give up and to be strong and have goals. I began running because I knew you would never let me give up and that I should be strong for you and your sister and brother. You came with me on that first mile and didn’t leave my side and helped me finish something that I don’t know if I would otherwise have. You inspire me.
As I think about all the words from my children I realized that I helped to create a home for my children where they feel safe from all the sadness and hurt that the world can sometimes deliver. They know they can come home and find peace from troubles, smiles to replace frowns and well a home cooked meal any day of the week. I have loved my first 20+ years as your mother and I can’t wait to see the next 20 as you travel the road of adulthood. God has been good to me because he gave me each of you who helps me in different ways every minute of every day. There was a time when I wondered if I should be a mom…now there is absolutely no doubt that motherhood is the greatest gift of all. I sang it to each of you from the moment I knew you were coming and at every opportunity I could and now I know that each of you knows that you are truly My Sunshine.
I guess I don’t subscribe to what the world thinks Mother’s Day should be. Some go out to breakfast or lunch. Some plant flowers or go to concerts or go on shopping sprees. Perhaps I didn’t get the memo but I don’t want those things on Mother’s Day. I want something that can’t be wrapped but stays with you forever. I want the one thing that is in short supply…time. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting new plants that I can plant in my yard and I love cards, more if they are homemade. I love kisses and mothers day hugs with wishes for a wonderful day that come with a smile. I don’t want to “do nothing” and relax or spend the day all alone. I don’t care about trips or shopping on Mother’s Day and I definitely don’t want to go to some crowded restaurant to wait for a meal for an hour.
On Mother’s Day I want to see my children for the day. I want to cook for them and sit with them and talk to them about everything going on in their worlds. I want to sit and watch movies all crowded up on the bed that once fit us all so snugly but now is smaller because they have grown so much. I want to sit in my yard around a fire roasting marshmallows or having moments sitting in a hammock quietly with them saying nothing. I want help with the dishes and picking up after we eat without being asked. I want to watch a mean game of ping pong on the porch and I want to be the reason they say no to invites elsewhere on these holidays. I want to bake goodies and have them steal some behind my back/ in front of my face and giggle when I swat them away. I want the thing that is slipping away most…time. I want their time and smiles and laughter. I have been taking care of them since they took their first breath in and this is what brings me the most happiness and it is what I want to do on Mother’s Day.
It’s not about the gifts, it’s about the time. This year I had a day to get my house in order from months of neglect as responsibilities had everyone away from home and busy during the day. This actually was peaceful and made me appreciate their absence. I had moments to just think about how much I love my kids and what they mean to me. I restored order to my world so I can move onto the next thing and then I went for a run and felt happy and healthy too. I ran off the sadness that has been creeping in as I think about my son at the pinnacle of his youth getting ready for senior prom and graduation and going away to college. I know he’s not going far but he won’t be there every day and not seeing him every day will be most hard for me. I ran that sadness right out of me because I hate when it creeps in. I always feel better after a run. A shower later I had an hour rest and then I cooked a great meal for everyone. Cooking for my family makes me happy because they can’t wait to chow down whenever I cook and especially when I bake. My Mother’s Day was lovely and it ended just the way I wanted it to, with me and the kids all crowded on a bed that doesn’t really fit us that well anymore as we huddled together and watched a movie that we didn’t make it through. We were so tired and we dozed off but we were together and my heart was filled with joy and THAT is what Mother’s Day means to me.
I will make an addendum here to admit that I do like presents when I get them, I just don’t want the day to be about that. It’s not about what you get that you unwrap, it’s about love and thoughtfulness and time spent together just to enjoy one another. Anyway, my wonderful Daughter Katy brought me an unbelievable hanging plant and a pretty wind chime with a butterfly that flaps its wings if you give it a little bounce. It made me smile because not only was it a butterfly that has come to be a symbol for my life, but because it made her SO proud to have picked it out and given it to me. It is just like the little candle she made for me one early morning at 4am when she was four which she dragged me out of bed to see. As I grumbled about the hour and how she needed to go back to bed because it was too early to be up….when I got to the kitchen I cried like a baby when she said “I made it for you” and I saw the beautiful little delicate wax bead candle that she made for me for no reason at all other than she loves me. THAT is what filled her face as she gave me those things.
On Mother’s Day I see the candle and the little clay bear that sits on my kitchen shelf that was made with love and given with pride and a big fat hug and kiss and “I love you” by my son. I see the pictures drawn by my second son that hang on the wall like an art museum. These are the things I cherish on Mother’s Day and every day. Jim Croce said it best:
I’ve learned that everyone needs something to hang on to that keeps them from losing their mind. Perhaps you might say DUH! but truly this is a lesson that I have not only learned the hard way but only learned to accept over the last 1,777 days. This something can be anything really as long as it has long, deep tethers to your soul. This is the something that keeps your nose above water, your feet on the ground, your eyes opened and your will to keep going. This something tucks your smile away when you drop it so when you are actually looking for it, you have it. The something that reminds you to take a breath in when you forget that you need to and the something that reminds you that you are human and no one is perfect. The something that brings you back to center when you wobble…and believe me I wobble!
To have that “something” in your life is a gift. I believe everyone has it even if they haven’t discovered it yet. It’s the something that makes you better and makes you keep trying to improve and it’s the thing that must be accepted as needed. I come from many years of not admitting that I need things. I never come first, I will make due with what I have so others have what they need. I would NEVER, before these 1,777 days, admit that I needed anything nor would I ask for help or say the C word- can’t. Can’t is weakness and weakness is a flaw that I choose not to “have” despite the fact that I do have weaknesses and in fact I do need things. I would just never admit it… but there is one thing (ok, three) that I DO need and they are the something that everyone needs to propel them through life.
My somethings are my kids. They make me get up in the morning. I can’t wait to talk to them about everything that happens every day and I miss them terribly when they are not around. My kids are my batteries, they make me go. They are the reasons that I found the courage to run when things in my world plummeted to hell. They make me want to be a better person and they make me want to try harder in everything I do. They lift me up so high and make me so proud of who they are and how amazing and wonderful they have turned out to be, each in their own special and unique way. They are the very breath that I take in and the life in my body. I love them so.
With every step I take on the road, even when I can’t go every day, I try my best to be my best because I would expect it of them and I know they expect me to live up to my own expectations of them. They make me see things in a half full way. I don’t shy away from rain running because it’s just an inconvenience not a problem. I run when it’s cold because fresh air is good for the soul and layers fix chilly runs. I run in the dark because I feel fast and invincible. I run often because my legs work and I can. I run through it when I feel like my legs are lead or I’m struggling for breath because there are those who cannot run. I run in the heat because I sweat more and work harder. I run I run I run because my children are right there with me cheering me on telling me to press on because I can do it. I run because my “somethings” are with me. They dragged me along in my head and heart and soul….not letting me give in when I wanted to quit this funny ride called life. They are ever present and all encompassing to me and with every beat of my heart I fill with joy knowing I am the luckiest person in the world to know such wonderfully inspiring people.
In life we all need a something. People, things or even thoughts that propel us. I have been propelled through jobs, experiences and even half marathons which I remember telling a co-worker that I would never ever do. I have done these things because my somethings were nudging me along. I can do anything with my somethings. With my somethings I am amazingly strong willed and successful. My somethings make me happy. My somethings keep me grounded and they always keep me striving to be my best. Find your something and life will never get you down!