The day to celebrate mothers nationwide, including ourselves. And for good reason, right? I mean… let’s be honest. We do the lion’s share of the work. We shuttle our kids to doctor visits and dentist appointments. We commit to carpools that can be more soul-sucking than watching Frozen twice-a-day every single day until the new Disney hit takes its place. We trade date nights for sleepless nights because our perfect little miracle won’t. stop. crying. We dress up like Pilgrims for a hundred first graders wearing grocery-bag Indian vests for an all-day Thanksgiving Feast. We help teachers cut out construction paper flowers, butterflies, and hearts for holiday parties. We scout Pinterest for hours looking for never-seen-but-totally-adorable cookies and cupcakes for every possible event. And, somehow, we (usually) manage to make it look easy.
Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so.
Personally, Mother’s Day is more bitter than sweet. In 2001, at the age of 59, my mother passed away from ALS. It had taken only 16 months from her to slip from diagnosis to death. For the first three or four Mother’s Days after losing Mom, I’d lie in bed, watch old Miss Texas pageants (her life!) and drink wine (“The doctor said it’s good for my heart, Lara!”).
I felt so cheated. To be honest, I still do. You shouldn’t be motherless at 32. Period.
Over time, different people began filling different “mother” roles in my life. I celebrate these women, not only for what they’ve done for me, but also my children.
My parents divorced when I was 18 and I had no desire to get a stepmother. Of course, my dad did marry again and, while my stepmother and I weren’t best friends, I did value her role in my father’s life. He was happy, largely in part to her place in his life. For that reason, as well as the many things she did for my children and me, she deserved to be honored.
YOUR MOTHER-IN LAW.
Mother-in-laws get a bad rap. Some of it may feel justified but, in truth, they’re simply mothers. Just like you. Just like me. All mothers share a bond of similar experiences; in fact, that’s the precise reason we visit Austin Moms Blog. Regardless of your relationship with her, your husband’s mother is important. Not only is she important in the life of your husband, she is an important part of your child’s life. Celebrate your mother-in-law. She did, after all, raise the man you fell in love with.
I had very nontraditional grandmothers. Mom’s mom (a/k/a Grandma Lee) was born grumpy and never outgrew it. When she met our son for the first time, she literally scoffed. “A boy? We don’t have boys. We’ve never had boys. We have girls.” *eye roll*
She finally accepted that our baby had a ding-ding, but it’s a good example of her general temperament. It wasn’t exactly warm cookies and bedtime stories.
Dad’s mom refused to let us call her grandma, nana, granny, mimi, or any other variation that alluded to her being old enough to have grandchildren. She insisted we call her by her name, so we grew up calling her Doris and it fit. She was a 4’11” firecracker and hardly fit the All-American grandma mold.
I loved both of my grandmothers immensely and honoring them was important. Celebrate your grandmother. She raised your mother or father and, without them, you wouldn’t be here.
My sisters are my rock. We each play certain parts (as all siblings do), but my older sister has been a pseudo mom for as long as I can remember. I’ll always remember the letter she sent me from UT while I was still in high school. I’d sent her a letter about problems I was having with my boyfriend. The letter she sent back was long and jam-packed with motherly advice, a nice (and necessary) dose of scripture, and ended with these wise words: Live in the fast lane, die in the fast lane. My little sister is as close to perfect as they come: she’s unbelievably sweet, never says an unkind word, a strong woman of faith, and one of the most genuinely loving women I’ve ever known. She has talked me off the ledge more than once and a constant reminder that a gentle spirit is crucial when parenting.
When my mother died, they became my fill ins and never complained. They are the strongest role models of what it means to be a mother, not only by example in how they raise their children, but how they are second parents to my own children.
Aunts are cool, right? They grew up with your mother, which means they understand how annoying she can be. It’s hard to match the gift of a “cool Aunt.” You can tell her what you would never tell your mom but still need motherly advice on. There really isn’t anything you can’t tell her. And she will stop at nothing to make sure you’re safe, happy, and well-dressed. Give her a call. Meet her for drinks. There’s bound to be something you want to tell her.
I’ve had the same best friends for 35 years (yes, I’m old). There is nothing we’ve been through that hasn’t made us stronger or closer. There are three of us. Well, there used to be four, but our sweet Rhonda died unexpectedly. She was a single mother and I can’t recall ever wishing her a Happy Mother’s Day. You can bet I tell my other two besties I love them every single I time talk to them. We call each other sisters because that’s what we are. In my eyes, they deserve to be celebrated every single day. That’s especially true on Mother’s Day.
And, for me, the most important of all….
YOUR CHILD’S BIRTHMOTHER.
This may not apply to you, but even if it doesn’t (or maybe, especially if it doesn’t), you can appreciate the sacrifice made by a birthmother to place her child, her heart, into the home of people she may know little about but must trust anyway. We were present when our son was born and have had a close relationship through the years with his birthmother. She placed him for adoption and built a life for herself that can only be described as fabulously successful. She’s doing something she loves, has a loving husband, and a beautiful daughter she gets to homeschool. We met our daughter’s birthmother more than a dozen times, but after the adoption was finalized, we lost contact with her. I send an updated letter about our daughter to the adoption agency every year. I never know if she’s picked them up, but I have to believe she knows how much we love our daughter.
I pray for both of my children’s birthmothers every day. Without them, and their belief that I would be the kind of mother their child deserved, I wouldn’t be a mother.
Embrace the love and gratitude shown to you on Mother’s Day. You are every wonderful thing people say. And more.
Bathe in it.
And maybe, if you’re lucky, an old Miss Texas pageant on TV.