The Mom in Me

I remember the first time I received breakfast in bed for Mother’s Day. My older girls were probably 4 and 2 years old, and obviously my husband was the mastermind behind the operation: scrambled eggs, toast with jam, coffee and orange juice. The girls were so excited, and after I had opened my card and their handmade pictures, they all just sort of stood there next to the bed, waiting. Apparently they hadn’t actually expected me to eat my breakfast in bed, and I ended up at the table with the rest of them because, in their world, that was where I belonged.

During my early years of being a mom, I had pretty high expectations for Mother’s Day. I wanted it all: a card; a thoughtful gift; a delicious meal prepared by somebody else (like a chef from Pappadeaux or The Cheesecake Factory); and some sort of handmade expression of love from my children. I would hope that my husband would remember that our kids couldn’t read a calendar or drive themselves to the store, and just in case he might forget, I would always give him a few friendly reminders. But what it really came down to was appreciation. I wanted to hear, “Thank you. You are doing a great job.” Words that most moms seldom hear but long for just the same.

Over the years I’ve noticed a shift in my perspective. Before I had kids, I pictured what it would be like to have babies, but I never knew that these babies would grow to be such extraordinary people. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to parent a 5, 10 or 12-year-old. And I certainly never expected that raising my girls would in many ways undo me and mend me at the same time. My children, without even trying, have unearthed various character flaws in my life, as well as calling out the very best parts of my true self. Being a mom does not define me, yet it fills up every square inch inside me, like water does not define the pitcher it is poured into, but fills up every available space within it.

For me, Mother’s Day has become less about being celebrated and more about celebrating. I have come to see motherhood as a gift of immeasurable worth─a gift I can’t adequately put into words, but one that gives deeper meaning to every part of my life, connecting the woman I am now with the girl I was decades ago. It explains why, when I dropped my 12-year-old daughter off for her first day of middle school, I was certain that the knots in my stomach were as tight as the knots in hers. It’s what motivates me to step into my 10-year-old’s world and be silly, speaking in different accents to make her laugh. And it’s the reason why I can’t bring myself to throw away over a dozen notes written by my kindergartener. Notes that say,

“I luv my famulee,” and “I luv you Mama Baudouin.”

Of course, my husband and girls know better than to blow off this special day, and I do look forward to getting breakfast in bed and then eating it in the kitchen with the rest of my family. I love the cards and gifts and going out to eat. But I make sure to let my girls know what an incredible honor it is to be their mom. Some years I write them a letter, other years I take a few moments with each of them to tell them how treasured they are, and how I’m growing right along with them. Being a mom is not a right that every woman automatically receives; it is a privilege ─a high calling─and as a friend of mine told me many years ago, “the hardest job you’ll ever love.”

~Becky Baudouin lives in the Northwest Suburbs with her husband, Bernie, and their three daughters. She blogs regularly at beckyspen.blogspot.com
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