What I Wish I Knew Then: Mother’s Day Edition

9 May

As a child, Mother’s day was most remembered by the pointed sense of excitement that only cames from the anticipation of giving. Handmade cards, tissue paper flowers, handprints in clay, necklaces made of rolled magazines. These treasures were painstakingly  labored over, given with pure generosity and pride.  It had to be painted the perfect color.  It had to be crafted ‘just so’. It had to be perfect, just like the lucky woman who was destined to be on the receiving end of all these wonderful treasures. The woman who acted like the pet rock I painted was a newly uncovered Picasso. The woman who pretended the dandelion bouquet I gave her was the most fragrant bunch of wilted flowers imaginable.  Pride in those gifts overflowed my little heart back in those days.  My mother was my world and to make her happy, made me happy.

As  a young adult, hoping to one day have children, Mother’s Day became a day of wistful curiosity.  Seeing the mothers at the park strolling their sleepy babies with cupid-bows lips gave me something to ponder.  Would I be a good mother?  Would I enjoy nursing? Would I go back to work? Could I handle it? Does love come automatic? How bad does childbirth hurt? Life was one carefree party after another back then, and my biggest worry was if the asshole I gave my phone number to the night before was going to call, but Mother’s Day always drove those questions home.  Kind like a once a year check up for my biological clock.

At 25 I gave birth to my first child.  Some of my previous questions were answered, but others followed. I discovered love was immediate, and preceded birth. I found out childbirth hurt like holy hell, and  I could and did nurse. I still wasn’t sure I can could handle being a mom, but I was trying my damnedest. When Mother’s Day arrived that first year I felt a sense of pride like no other. I reveled in my little man, my precious boy, and although it is a cliche, the sun indeed did rise and shine upon my child’s sweet head.  There was never a thing more beautiful than my infant son. Mother’s Day meant everything to me, I was proud, I was relishing in every single ray of maternal energy that God gave me. I had this beautiful child and it was ME showing him off at the park that year. ME who held a baby at my breasts and was enchanted by his coos and laughter. I was a mother, and this was my day to celebrate it.

By the time the fruit of my loins was walking  (running), talking (back) and became more independent (trashing the house) I decided Mother’s Day should be about ME. Really about me, as in time to myself. Mani -pedi, a day spent in the park, by myself, with a book.  Dinner (alone) at my favorite little Mediterranean cafe, where the food was not served  bland enough for a 3 years old’s palette, thus unappetizing to mine. 364 days I had someone sticking dirty little fingers into the cream cheese on my bagel, or waking me up by poking my eyeballs with the ballpoint pen his daddy left lying around the night before. I decide that THIS would be MY Mother’s Day. This was for ME.  Every other day I lost who I was, chiseled away with every episode of Barney and every game of duck duck goose. I spent that Mother’s Day just as I described above, and I want to say I was lonely and hated it, but the truth is, I relished and savored every single second of solitude I had that day. It was great.

As my son grew and entered school , Mother’s Day became less stressful, and I looked forward to spending the day honoring the fact that I was his mom.  He was (and still is) a thoughtful and generous person, so he would make sure to pick my favorite flowers (lilacs), or create for me an awesome painting (to this day still talented in the creativity department). There were exalted handmade gifts: spoon rests, pins for my lapel, cards with clever poems, and yes, even the same type of rolled up magazine bead necklaces I gifted my own mother with back in my youth.  These were, and are, some of my life’s greatest treasures, and certainly the box where I keep them is the very 1st object I would grab in event of a fire.

As my son Ryan grew into a preteen, I found myself as a single mom, and Mother’s Day were spent with just he and I.  The years after I divorced his father (he was 6) he spent as an only child with a single working mom. This meant he was surrounded by adults more often than not, and I frequently dragged him places and exposed him to adult like things such as arts and culture early. He developed a palette for various foods, a keen sense of observation and a wicked sense of humor. He did not mind sitting still for 2 hours at a play or going to a museum.  He preferred to sit at the grown up table during holidays and such.  My little man was growing and our Mother’s Day dinners back then did not have to include places like Chuck E. Cheese.  I enjoyed his company on the many Mother’s Days of his youth, on the cusp of manhood, but not quite there yet.

The years rolled on, Mother’s Day came and went, and I found myself remarried with a lovely stepdaughter of whom we had custody of, and thus in need of mothering. This gave me more reason to celebrate, and I was delighted to have someone to embark on Mother’s Day manicures and tea with.  My own son was growing, and withdrawing a bit, in the natural way that all teenagers do. He was secretive, out with friends, and busy with this or that. I always got a nice gift from my first-born, a piece of Lennox, or some jewelry, for which he saved his own money for, but what I really wanted were those years back when Mother’s Day wasn’t just taking off with friends after a ritual brunch. I remember thinking I would have given anything to get a re-do on the Mother’s Day I chose to spend alone when he was a toddler.

A few years later, we were fortunate enough to have 2 additional children, Darla and Delilah, who I often write about. I know now what a dirty thief time is, and how quickly the years disappear. I know that when you are in the trenches battling this weeks case of impetigo, or arguing with the mother whose son threw sand at your princess, that the little things don’t matter. The house doesn’t need to be perfect and the weeds don’t need to be pulled. So what if I wear the same sweats I had on yesterday? None of it matters. What matters is that ever day is a private Mother’s Day, really. Every day is an opportunity to love and teach and hold on tight because they wont be little for long.  Each stage, each phase, is horrible and wonderful all at once, and I’ll miss it once they outgrow it. Its wisdom that my son gave to me, although he didn’t know he was doing so, and knowing all this is the best gift this Mother has ever got. I know now that I don’t need a day to make me feel special, or to honor my relationship with my children because it’s all right here, every day, if I just look for it.

There will come a day, surely sooner than I think, that my own children will become parents, and will need to spend Mother’s Day to commemorate that honor with their own children, or is my son’s case, with his spouse. My days in the limelight are numbered, I know that. Their dependence on me, and the adulation that comes with it, will soon evaporate like steam on a frosty autumn night. But for now I’ll take time each day to celebrate Mother’s Day and all that comes with motherhood. I’ll Count all the sloppy wet kisses, boogie noses,  and pokes at the eyeballs as precious little gifts that once time takes from me, I’ll never get back. Every night when they lay their sleepy, dreamy heads on their pillows and tell me they love me in hushed tones, I will quietly celebrate Mother’s Day and relish in the fragile time we have together.

So today, and every day, I wish you, Happy Mother’s Day. Hold it tight, my friends, it will disappear beneath your feet before you know it.

Thanks for reading!

Copyright 2011 Livelaughloveliquor. All Rights Reserved.  No reproduction in any medium without prior written consent of the author is permitted.

Edited by Annette Garkowski


22 Responses to “What I Wish I Knew Then: Mother’s Day Edition”

  1. sabrina May 9, 2011 at 11:50 am #

    I love it Christine! Time IS a dirty thief, thanks for reminding us all that every day is a mothers day! I laughed and cried, great job again.

  2. Allison May 9, 2011 at 11:55 am #

    Christine, that was so poignantly beautiful. You are a wonderful mother! I hope you had a very happy Mother’s Day! OXO

  3. carldagostino May 9, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

    Hand made crafts as gifts. So not part of today and people don’t know what they missed. Store bought stuff as gifts _ yuk. And after all the occasions for gifts what are you supposed to get? I am so old fashioned I still like home made fruit cake during the holidays as gift. There are maybe 12 people on the planet that like fruit cake gifts but the rest of the world can have their junk.

    • livelaughloveliquor May 13, 2011 at 9:13 am #

      Carl, I love fruit cake. My mother made it every Christmas, and I can still remember the smell when it was wrapped in cheesecloth, soaked in brandy….mmmmmm! I love homemade gifts as well.

  4. lifeintheboomerlane May 9, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    Absolutely beautiful. I’ve found that my own notion of motherhood has evolved throughout the years. You are lucky that because of your oldest, you appreciate how quickly time passes. I feel like I raised my three in a blur. Now that they are grown and gone, I value every second I get to spend with them.

    • livelaughloveliquor May 13, 2011 at 9:14 am #

      Its so true. My oldest was raised in a blur as well. I feel like god gave me a 2nd chance, and i am so grateful for it! – Which is why they get away with murder! Happy belated Mothers day to you!

  5. Alli May 9, 2011 at 3:07 pm #

    Aww! So true! Written so well! As a single mom of a 3 year old, I LOVE this!! Thanks for putting it in perspective!! I love my little man!!

    • livelaughloveliquor May 13, 2011 at 9:15 am #

      Alli, Happy Mother’s day to you! Those single mom years can be tough, but they are some of my best memories – no lie! You form a special bond with your child when its just the 2 of you. enjoy it – I know you already do!

  6. meleah rebeccah May 9, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    Oh Christine! I think this is the most beautiful story about motherhood, I have ever read!!!

    Happy Mother’s Day, my friend.

    • livelaughloveliquor May 13, 2011 at 9:16 am #

      Thanks Mel, happy Mothers Day. Your a fantastic mom to J. and i know that you can totally relate to feeling privileged to be a parent. its awesome!

  7. Lenore Diane May 9, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

    My boys are 5 and 6. I love, love, love receiving handmade cards from them. I will miss their childish drawings of houses, stick figures and smiles. Thank you for pointing out what is most important … before time runs out.

    • livelaughloveliquor May 13, 2011 at 9:18 am #

      Happy Belated Mothers day, Lenore. 5 and 6 are such precious years for boys, I loved when my son was in that age range. Enjoy every ball game, wayward worm, and farting contest. I promise you – you will someday miss them!

  8. Lisa Har May 10, 2011 at 7:45 am #

    Time is a thief. I got no hand made anything from my oldest this year and boy did that make me sad to know he won’t be my little man any longer.

    • livelaughloveliquor May 13, 2011 at 9:19 am #

      oh Lisa, i’m sorry the handmade stage is over. BUT there are plenty of other great things to look forward too, and you’ll find the older your son gets, the closer you and he will become. Happy Belated Mothers day to you, and thanks for reading!

  9. Renee Mason May 10, 2011 at 8:01 am #

    This morning I found your blog through Myra’s “My Parents Are Crazier Than Yours” post. I thoroughly enjoyed the Mother’s Day post and then began to read backwards. Two hours later, I realized that I HAD to put down the laptop and go pee, OR ELSE! I am totally subscribing; you are hilarious; great job!!

    • livelaughloveliquor May 13, 2011 at 9:22 am #

      Renee, so glad you found me through Myra (LOVE HER!!!) and that you enjoyed reading. I’ve learned thru the years to look at the lighter side of motherhood and let alot more slide than i should! Eventually, everything in life is funny, if you let enough time pass! Hope you enjoyed your Mother’s Day, and thanks for reading!

  10. thedailydish May 10, 2011 at 9:50 am #

    You make me laugh until I cry, and sometimes, you just make me cry. Sweet tears, my friend. Happy belated Momma’s Day. XO

    • livelaughloveliquor May 13, 2011 at 9:23 am #

      Happy Belated Mother’s Day Christy…….you know I think your SPECIAL!!! (still laughing out loud at that, and if you are reading this and want a good laugh, click on Christy’s blog and see what is so SPECIAL about her)

  11. The Logophile May 15, 2011 at 4:45 am #

    Wow. I can’t believe how long it just took me to read this. I needed time and I did not have any to set aside even for this beautifully well- written, touching post. It was so sweet and an important message for me. You are right, every day is mother’s day and we must realize our blessings before they are long gone. Now that I read this, I can’t even make time for your next post because my kids have been waiting for me while I sat in front of the screen looking for a piece of jewelry for myself. They are waiting so patiently and it is time I remembered them. The self-pampering will have to wait.

  12. happykidshappymom May 27, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

    What a beautiful post. I just about cried when I read about the times you spent with your son — just the two of you at a play, enjoying each other’s company. I’ll remember this story for a long time. Thanks for sharing it.

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