Before you had children, your Mother’s Day wishes to your own mom (or mother figure) might have run more toward the generic: heartfelt, but perhaps a little one-size-fits-all: “Thanks for all you do for me…”
But now you’re a mother, and the picture has changed. If you’re a fairly new parent, you might be going into this holiday with your eyes just a bit more open when it comes to your mother. Raise your hand if, at various points during your motherhood journey so far, an image of your mom dealing with the same issues and annoyances popped to mind and you thought: How on earth did she do all that?! I can barely hold it together!
She probably hoped you’d one day walk in her shoes. Well, that day has come. This Mother’s Day, we asked some moms what they have found they appreciate more about their mom now that they themselves are mothers, and pulled together their best mom-appreciations:
1. She fed you, every day. Over and over. And over. As soon as one meal is cleared away, another looms, and the week stretches ahead, filled with as-yet- unplanned meals. If you’ve already made the seemingly obvious but somehow still startling realization that these kids need to be fed every day (really?!), then you know what we mean. The realization garners respect for the woman (even if it wasn’t always her cooking and she didn’t always cook from scratch) who made sure there was food on the table.
2. She listened, or faked it pretty well when she had to. She tried her best to answer every question, from where do birds go at night to why doesn’t he like me? Try to think about that the 456th time your toddler pipes up with a “but whyyyyy?”
3. She shopped, sometimes a lot. And mostly before the Internet! If you needed new shoes or gym clothes or a birthday gift for your best friend, what did she do? She put aside work and other tasks to go shopping—at stores. There was no Amazon she could use to stock up on diapers and wipes with a few lunch-hour clicks.
4. She tolerated your phases. Your mom went along with the time you wore your Halloween princess costume for three solid weeks at age 6. She gritted her teeth and let you paint your room (or, okay, just the one wall) deep purple when you were 15. She nodded and sighed through your vegan phase at 17, even if she did—because she’s really quite savvy—tell you it was up to you to shop for and cook your own meals.
5. She taught you things. Some moms shared their knitting skills or how to debone a chicken. Others were the driving instructor, or the one who taught you how to put together IKEA furniture, weed a garden, score a great bargain, or balance a checkbook. Even if she never sat you down to teach you specific things, you learned. Think about it.
6. She laid down the law. Not every mother’s set of rules and regulations was the same (and you may remember that your friends had far fewer rules to follow than poor little you), but chances are she made clear that there were some lines you were not supposed to cross. Knowing that now, as you’re navigating your own discipline principles and rule-setting scenarios, you have to appreciate how tough it must have been to look at your adorably pouty face and say, no, it actually is time for bed.
7. She pushed you harder than anyone else would dare to, or care to. It’s a rare mom whowants her children to reach three-quarters of their potential. The same way you want to see your sons and daughters succeed and live a fulfilling life—however that may be defined—that’s what she wanted for you. If she shoved you a little harder than most? It may be better to reframe what at the time felt like nagging into an extra-fierce dose of love. She believed in you!
8. She was herself. Think about this the next time you feel stressed and guilty about working—or the opposite, when you feel you’re maybe not the best role model for staying home: Are you doing the best you can to be the best possible parent to your children? Chances are excellent she was doing the same and trying, in whatever way she knew how, coming from her own unique background and in her own spot in history, to be your mom but still be herself. Your mom may not always have given you what you wanted at the time, but she likely brought plenty to the table (besides dinner!): a goofy sense of humor, storytelling chops, an uncanny ability to find the missing soccer cleat five minutes before the game, her memory for reciting Shakespeare sonnets or baseball stats, the way she knew when you needed to talk, or preferred to remain silent. She brought herself.
What do you appreciate most about your mom?