How is it even possible to put into words the gift of motherhood? In honor of Mother’s Day, I’m going to try.
I’ll start with the day I gave birth to my now 21-year-old son. The first time I took him in my arms, I got my first gift of motherhood: the feeling that this was going to be the best and most special thing I had ever accomplished in my life. That has proven to be true. That’s not to minimize anything else I’ve done in life, (especially giving birth to my daughter, who I had two years later), but I will never forget that feeling. I now had someone who needed me, who I had to protect and care for, and whose life would be influenced and shaped by his experience and interaction with me. I had never felt this kind of utter, unconditional love. Ever.
Terrifying and wildly exciting at the same time, I embraced motherhood in the first two minutes, and 21 years later, my son is a man, my daughter a woman. These are good, good people, both very different in some ways, and very similar in others. Both are amazing, and both have giant, kind hearts. I look at these two beauties and I still can’t believe how blessed I am for the privilege of being their mother and the gift of motherhood.
Let me state the obvious: Being a mother isn’t easy. Any mother will tell you that. Worrying about your children lives in your core, and trying to forgive yourself for impatience and irritability and frustration they bring you, at times is hard. Learning to accept each child for who they are, and not trying to turn them into who you wish they would be can be hard, too. And the most difficult: trying to shield your children from harm-both emotionally and physically, and knowing there is so much you can’t control.
But overshadowing all the hard work and overwhelming emotions of worry is joy that is more abundant than I ever imagined, and it is never ending. Here are some of the gifts of motherhood. Some are unbelievably great, and some come with the territory. Even though they can be frustrating and challenging and disappointing, and even though they can drive you crazy, they are still gifts because the gift is that you see your strength and you see that you can make a difference in how you handle the situation. I’m sure I’m leaving countless other gifts out, but here goes:
58 Gifts of Motherhood:
1. Just looking at your child, whether he/she is a baby, a toddler, a preteen, a teenager, a young adult, or an adult. Seriously. Just looking at them. Nothing else.
2. Hearing your child laugh and giggle for the first time.
3. Holding your child when he or she is sick and being their caregiver.
4. The first time your toddler takes his or her first step.
5. Halloween (especially the first couple!)
6. Giving your kids baths, putting on PJ’s and putting them in bed.
7. Birthday parties.
10. When your child has a new friend he/she is excited about.
11. First day of school.
14. Wiping your kids’ tears and putting a Band-aid on a scraped knee.
15. Girl Scouts.
16. When your kids make you presents in art class.
17. School musicals.
18. Ballet classes.
19. Basketball classes.
20. Watching your child develop a passion in art or sports or music or theatre. Anything!
21. Baking cookies together.
22. Taking a young kid to a Bull’s game or Cub’s game.
23. Your kid’s face the first time they play in the snow.
24. Watching your kid’s face when you surprise him with the Thomas the Train play table.
25. Vacations that aren’t really vacations, just more of a change of venue. But seeing a kid on a beach for the first time or a plane ride is truly exciting.
26. Seeing how happy your parents are with your kids and knowing they are with the best role models.
27. Watching the kids with their cousins.
28. The first time you see your son in a suit.
29. The tooth fairy.
30. First communions.
31. Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.
32. Junior High drama, and being your daughter’s best friend when all her friends just kicked her out of the group.
33. Helping with homework.
34. Junior High graduation.
35. Watching The Bachelor (which you are only watching because that’s the way to spend time with the kids) and eating popcorn.
36. When you go through a McDonald’s drive-thru and you pay and then forget to pick up the food at the second window and the kids start shouting at you and laughing so hard they can’t even speak.
37. Watching your kids play with and adore the dog.
38. Hugging your kids when you are scared about something, and not even telling them anything.
39. All the family private jokes that never get old.
40. The first time your kids throw a party while you’re out of town.
41. The first time your kid gets drunk.
42. The first time the cops knock on your door and you find out your son was smoking pot at a golf course late at night.
43. High school graduation.
44. When your child gets into college.
45. When you have to figure out how you are paying for college.
46. When your kid finishes her first year with a high grade point average (or one that you can live with).
47. Helping your kids find a job.
48. Not helping your kids find a job and learning that they have to do it themselves.
49. The times you feel like a terrible parent and you learn to forgive yourself.
50. When your kid calls you just for nothing (which isn’t often.)
51. When you see how much other people love your kid.
52. When you still think and talk to your kids like they are 8 years old, but in reality they are in college (and they tell you this.)
53. When your kids make you laugh so hard, your cheeks hurt.
54. When your kids say, “Mom, someday we’re going to tell you stuff we did but we can’t tell you now or you will be mad.”
55. When you run into moms and dads in the community and they tell you how much they love your kids.
56. When you see that your kids are best friends, despite their differences.
57. When your kid gets their first job.
58. Kids as young adults are a riot. They make you laugh a lot, and they think they know everything. They make fun of you but you don’t even care because you know they’re right.
All of these gifts of motherhood only go up to the college years. I can’t even imagine the other gifts that come with seeing your kids graduate, get married, and have kids of their own.
This Mother’s Day, don’t think about your divorce or your ex or his new girlfriend (her new boyfriend) or how bad your marriage was, or anything else but one thing: YOU.
Unlike Valentine’s Day or Christmas or Thanksgiving and other holidays that involve feeling the pressure of being a single mom, Mother’s Day isn’t about couples or even about families. Mother’s Day is about mothers and their children. Married or divorced or single, you are a great mother and you are appreciated and respected by all mothers. We love you. Have a wonderful Mother’s Day!
Like this article? Check out “How to be a Successful Single Mother: Handle It”