I often wonder what my children will remember most about their childhood when they are all grown-up (one already is), and on occasion have asked each of them to share a special memory. I would love to say that their responses are joyful and incredibly tear jerking – but in reality I am greeted with a shrug, a little eye roll and some random experience that I wasn’t even a part of.
When my oldest daughter (now married herself) was younger, I decided to implement some family traditions that she could look back upon with fond memories. I would make a special tea every fall and a special cookie every Christmas with the sole intention of instilling a strong “family tradition.” Not long ago, someone asked her to share one of her favorite family memories (she would definitely have two – the special tea and cookies). She responded without a blink of an eye, “Nope, I really can’t think of one off the top of my head.” Seriously Dana!?!
So, to that end, I will inject a little mother’s guilt to get the ball rolling this Mother’s Day:
To my eldest daughter, Dana- When you told me you were going to quit teaching to find another job, I almost dropped my latte. I secretly thought you were crazy and worried that you were making the biggest mistake of your life, but my psychology classes did not go to waste. I bit my tongue and suffered in silence as I helped you update your resume and buy clothes that were “corporate” rather than “kid friendly.” You now have a job that you LOVE and I have seen you grow by leaps and bounds. You are strong and tough, but also sweet and caring.
I would appreciate it if this year, when I go around the table and ask about a special moment (that preferably includes me), you don’t mention the time I nicked your little ear while trying to save a few dollars on a haircut. You were 4 years old and barely cried, and after the bleeding stopped you didn’t seem to be in too much pain. In case you are carrying an emotional scar about that unfortunate accident, I’m sorry! (I’ve said it before but I’m sure you have forgotten that too!) Here’s a thought…let’s not mention that incident anymore, thanks. You are such a beautiful daughter and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your efforts to come “home” even though you are married and have other obligations. You are a truly wonderful daughter.
Jon – My favorite thing you ever said when you were younger was, “What you been doing mom?” You were the cutest boy in my entire world and always will be. I could never imagine you not running up to hug me or hang on me until you almost made me fall down, but boys turn into teens and at age 15, I’m grateful for an occasional smile and a “How’s it going Mom?” You still are the cutest boy in my entire world and I am so proud of you for the young man you have become. You are nothing if not a fine young man who daily amazes me with your incredible smile, your commitment to your friends, your school work ethic and your ability to make the right decisions. I want you to excel, but I also hope you fail – at least a few times. I firmly believe that your failures will guide you towards your greatest successes.
When dad asks you to say something endearing about me at the dinner table this Mother’s Day, PLEASE don’t mention AGAIN that I occasionally misuse the words “good” and “well.” We have all heard you and I would appreciate it if you could work on something else original that bugs you about me. Thank you in advance for your consideration. You are my cutest son.
Lulu – You are my little red bird and my miracle child. It was a struggle getting you here and a bigger struggle keeping you here those first few months, but you are a fighter with a heavenly spirit. I thank God every day for you. I know you would much prefer I don’t dance in front of your friends, do the wave when I get happy, play on your Wii or breath in your direction at the school dances, but you are stuck with me and you’ll get used to it. It’s unfortunate you grew out of my shoe size before you could borrow my shoes for the high school dances in a few years, because if I do say so myself, I have a great selection. Tough break!
Lu, when it’s your turn to say something nice or funny about me this Mother’s Day, I beg of you to please NOT pull out any ridiculous pictures of me giving birth to you. Oh my gosh, who took those horrible pictures? We know who… I have carefully preselected some pictures that are “mother approved” if you are interested in my assistance. No pajamas, bad hair days or body parts! You are as sweet as a sugar cube most of the time, but this almost-thirteen-year-old thing is making me a little weird. I guess you have to grow up sometime.
This Mother’s Day, I want to thank my kids for the opportunity to be a part of their lives. We are all given opportunities and sometimes we take advantage of them, other times we botch them up disastrously – that’s where the real lessons come from. Moms do the best they can, often under very difficult circumstances. I applaud the single moms who are raising their kids on their own, trying to work, make school functions, keep up with their friends and juggle life. Very few of us have had a perfect childhood, so if you are still harboring ill will about something your mom did or didn’t do when you were young…get over it.
So Dana, Ya and Lu, if anyone asks you what the most important thing your mother has ever taught you has been, please make sure to say something deep and meaningful, like “She taught me to never give up…” or, “She always encouraged me to listen to my intuition.” (BTW, you really should). But, what I really want you to remember is that you should always add cumin to your Mexican food dishes, and that Knorr chicken bouillon always makes everything taste better. Also, don’t wear shoes that make your feet look big, and turn off the &%*# television set while you are eating breakfast.
I may not be a perfect mom, but I love you with a perfect love. If you remember nothing else, remember that I did the best I knew how to do. The greatest job I have ever had is being your mom. The second greatest is being a daughter to a great mom. Happy Mother’s Day.
P.S. Dana, you REALLY have got to let go of that whole ear nick story! xoxox