When I reflect on all the Mother’s Days this mom of five has celebrated over the years there is a specific one that stands out in my mind. This particular Sunday was not a day of rest or relaxation. I wasn’t showered with expensive gifts or dinner out. I didn’t escape chores, dishes and other domestic duties. And yet, believe it or not, it was one of the very best Mother’s Days I can remember.
About six years ago, after a long grueling week of work, school, soccer scrimmages, doctor visits and play practices my weekend plans were to entertain out of town guests and their three young children.
Rest and relaxation was not on my to-do list.
On Saturday, the guests arrived, dinner was purchased, prepared and consumed before we were off to my daughter’s final play performance. As the day came to a close I felt good about all that had been accomplished and looked forward with anticipation to Sunday’s schedule of church services, graduations and open houses.
Collapsing in bed I was soon awakened to a faint whimper, “Mom-eeeeeee!”.
As I did my rounds of the bedrooms I checked each sleeping, angelic face one at a time. The clock read 2:30 a.m. when I found my oldest daughter complaining of a tummy ache. I kissed her forehead, tucked her back in and assured her she would feel better in the morning.
The next sound I heard was much less pleasant. It was not faint. It was the violent sound of vomiting. My sweet little actress in the wee morning hours of Mother’s Day was sick. She was sick and she was sick and she was sick again. Amazingly almost like clockwork every forty-five minutes.
Each time I’d get her cleaned up, find my way back to bed and just about fall back asleep when the cycle would start all over again. Up and down. Back and forth. The call and duty of motherhood beckoned me to care and comfort my sick child in her biggest time of need.
And the strangest thing happened; I didn’t mind. I didn’t mind the mess. I didn’t mind getting up. I didn’t mind the sleep I was losing. The only thing I felt in my heart was a swelling of joy, love and responsibility for this little fruit of my womb.
My little girl looked up at me between her tears and said in the softest, sweetest voice, “Thank you for helping me, Mommy. I’m sorry I am keeping you awake.”
I would have moved heaven and earth for her at that moment.
Later that morning when the sun was up, I stumbled around for a hot cup of coffee for myself and cold cereal for the boys, when I was cornered in the kitchen and showered with homemade cards. Reasons why I love my mom were drawn with scribbled marker. A flower from my daughter’s class and a homemade recipe book from my son’s preschool were presented along with a beautiful orchid corsage I wore proudly pinned to my bath robe.
These were my Mother’s Day presents.
My heart was so touched. My kids love me not because of my social status or for the size of my paycheck. They don’t care where I shop or what year our car is. They don’t mind if the house is dusty or the laundry is backed up.
In my children’s artwork I learned they love me because we ride bikes, take walks and swing outside. My kids love me because I spend time with them and in my humble experience I’d rather stay up all night with a sick kid, hold her tight and be remembered for that than any degree I could hang or accomplishment I could acquire.
That Mother’s Day, between vomit and tissue paper flowers, I was reminded that the joy of motherhood is found in one place; through the eyes of her child.
This weekend ladies my Mother’s Day wish for you is not that you would see yourself through your reality but through the perceptions of your child. They think you’re a hero. They see you as their safe place. They don’t think you're inadequate at all. In fact, your kid thinks you're awesome!
So for Mother's Day this year I think you should embrace that truth wholeheartedly. Believe you are as great of a mom as your little one thinks you are. Why? Because you are, because the teenage years are right around the corner and because I’m the mom and I said so. That’s why.
(This article appears as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting series as seen in The Review Atlas, a GateHouse Media Company) To read more of my Practical Parenting series go here.