Ah, Mother’s Day. The gifts started to roll in at 2:00 am when Silas woke up saying his pull-up had leaked and we needed to change him as well as the sheets. So he ended up waking up in mismatched pajamas. Polar bear top and monkey bottoms. The next gift came when Emerson woke up an hour early. His very first Mother’s Day gift was a massive amount of spit-up all over himself, my hands and my lap. Poor little guy! I just sat there laughing with my hands full of puke not really sure what the best way was to clean things up. Time for yet another wardrobe change and it wasn’t even 7 am yet. Now we all three had mismatched PJs on!
I can’t think of a more appropriate way to start Mother’s Day though. My Mother’s Days have always been mismatched from the ideal. My relationship with my own mother was complicated. Our relationship just never matched the ones you read about in the Mother’s Day cards. Then, I had fertility issues and every passing Mother’s Day without a child of my own was like going to a funeral. Now, I AM a mother and I am ecstatic about celebrating the day. Yet there is a cloud hanging over it because of sour relationships between the families of my siblings and my parents.
My mother has an auto immune disease and was sick a lot growing up. We also have a lot of mental illness in our family so she was sometimes depressed. I am a strong-willed person so there was a lot of arguing among us growing up, more than your average teen-parent relationship. As a mother now, I see how hard it is to do the job well even when you are at the peak of health. The lesson I learned from my mom is not in any Hallmark card, but it is sage advice for any mother: find people, groups or activities that can make up for your weaknesses. Invite them in and make them a steadfast part of your lives. I’d like to thank her for having the strength to recognize her own weaknesses and find ways to provide safety nets for her children. She always made sure we had supportive and nurturing activities to engage in. She also had her own umbrella friends who sheltered, not only her but, her children too. Until a certain age, she wisely picked the things that surrounded us, keeping us safe, strong and loved.
My mother is the one who taught me to love reading. It was something I had trouble learning how to do, but she worked with the school to have a reading specialist, and I went on to earn a degree in English (as well as a Master’s degree later on). She taught me to value education and to work hard at learning. An invaluable gift which I think I can safely say saved my life. My education brought me knowledge about psychology which helps me understand the mental illness throughout my family tree. I can recognize the symptoms of depression as they rise in me and know how to cope with it to live a fulfilling and happy life. As an adult, I see our complicated history as a bruised fruit. Some might take one look at a bruised fruit and throw it away. With the gifts my mother gave me, her own as well as the safety nets around us, I have learned there is much value in that fruit. I choose to cut away the bad parts, throw them away and enjoy the fruit which remains. If you hold onto those bruises they can ruin your life but if you cut away the bad parts there is much sweetness to be had.
So, this year, Mother’s Day was good. I found the perfect card, we spent the day with our boys and both of our mothers. My boys gave me the most extravagant gifts: smiles, laughter and love. The kinds of gifts that come from the heart. The gift God has given me, in addition to my boys, is that my own mom is still alive for me to enjoy her as more than just a “mom.” I get to see her as a multifaceted person now and that is nice. I accept my mother for who she is rather than what she’s not. I love her for what she did rather than did not do.
Yes, we are definitely okay with mismatched pajamas in this house!