As Mother’s Day approaches, I think about the person who taught me how to be a mom- my own mother, and I think about the two people who allow me to celebrate this holiday every year- my two sons.
I can honestly say that I am so lucky to have the mom I do. I’m nearing forty years old, and the older I get, the more I appreciate her. Of course, I appreciate her for all the things she has done for me over the years. The support she has provided me, and all the fond memories I have of her as a child. My appreciation has grown and expanded over the years though, beyond what she has done for me. I have developed an understanding I have not always had, known, or fully realized.
This is the understanding of the incredibly bittersweet emotions that come along with raising children. I now get it, fully understand it, and appreciate it.
I see and feel on a cellular level, what my own mom experienced as she raised my brother and me all those years ago. The feelings she felt as she watched us grow and develop from the infants in her arms, to the toddlers on her hip. The tears she fought back as she waved goodbye to us as we went to school for the first time. All the nights she helped us with our homework and fixed our favorite meals. The summers she spent with us and took countless pictures because, “one day we’d look back on that picture and be glad she took it,” (even though we complained with eye rolls and heavy sighs at the time). The trips to the mall as she helped us shop for the perfect attire for homecomings and proms. Boy, I remember all the long hours we spent trying to find the perfect sequined dress for these occasions! The college goodbyes (which involved many tears for me), to the wedding which was the final departure from her nest.
With each passing year I remember at certain times, particularly in times of transition, I’d notice a specific look on my mom’s face. I would see that her face looked different in these moments, compared to what I saw every day. As an adolescent and even teenager I had no clue what was behind these looks.
Was she happy? Was she sad? Geez, I didn’t know. I might just label her “quiet” or “emotional” in my mind. I can honestly say it’s taken almost four decades to truly grasp what this look was and is all about.
I get it now though; this is a look I know my own children see on my face at times. Like me, they probably don’t know what it is or why I do it, other than to say, “Mom cries easy.” Ha-ha the simplistic description from an eleven- and fifteen-year-old. They won’t understand it for years to come. Like me, they’ll have to experience it firsthand.
What is this look? It’s the look we moms and dads have when we experience the bittersweetness of parenthood. It’s the emotion that takes over when we are beyond happy and proud of our children as we watch them reach milestones. It’s also the same emotion as the realization hits us, that they are growing up way too fast. This pulls on our heart like nothing ever before. Parenthood in a nutshell, is absolutely the most bittersweet experience you will ever have. You most likely are a parent yourself, and I need not elaborate here. You get it 1000%. Nothing tops it.
The older we get and the more experienced as parents we become, the more this understanding of the bittersweet reveals itself. The more it sinks in.
I didn’t get it when I was a new mom. When I was just trying to figure out how to get a tiny human, I was now fully responsible for, to eat and sleep at the right times. I didn’t even get it as my kids got older and began to go to school. When they were in their early years, I naively told myself that I had all the time in the world with them. That the years wouldn’t go that fast, and that somehow, they would be this age forever.
As a mom of an almost sixth grader and sophomore in high school, I am seeing that is the farthest thing from the truth.
Have you seen that parent quote? The one that says, “The days are long, but the years are short.” I don’t know of another quote that is quite so accurate. This is literally so true. It goes by in a blink of an eye.
All of this has raised my awareness to what my own mother has felt over the years. Dad, you no doubt felt this too, but it’s Mother’s Day so I’m just talking about mom here (don’t worry, next month you will get a blog too 😊).
I have tremendous appreciation for my mom and what she done for me throughout my entire life, but I also have something more now; a great respect, appreciation, and admiration for what she has felt as a human being, all these years, as she has carried out her role as a mom.
Mom, I appreciate you so much, but I also have something more to say now- I relate to you. I understand the bittersweet emotions of parenthood, to my core, just like you do. I know the feeling of the heart strings being pulled tight, and the tears welling up, that you desperately try to blink away.
I also know what it’s like to wish they were still small enough to hold in your lap. To watch them finish each school year with success, and be immensely proud, but also be sad as you know you have one less year with them now. I know what it’s like to drop them off at school and cry as you leave the parking lot because you realize that soon, they’ll be driving on their own, and they won’t need a ride anymore. And I know what it’s like to want to hold them as close as ever, but to know the best thing you can do for them, is to begin to let them go.
The bittersweet of motherhood…. I know what it’s like. It’s a love and a pain all at the same time. So, this Mother’s Day, my tribute to all the moms out there is to acknowledge this.
These human beings that we were given, that we are blessed to call our children, they are the best gifts of all and one day, they will get it too- the bittersweet. They will finally understand the look we got as they drove off, had their first serious girlfriend or boyfriend, graduated, and eventually got married. They will understand the tears that go hand in hand with all the smiles. They will understand it because they will experience it too, with our grandchildren.
The bittersweet is a repeat through the generations, and it will never stop. It’s a pain that I wouldn’t trade for the world, and I know you wouldn’t either.
Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, and to all the amazing moms out there. We are doing the hardest, best, most rewarding, highest sacrificing, and most challenging job we’ll ever do, all the while, our hearts being pulled in a million directions. I’d say that definitely deserves a Sunday in May dedicated solely to us. 😊
And to my boys I love you with all my heart. You’re truly the BEST kids I know. I am beyond proud of you. You are simply the best part of me. Thank you for giving me the invaluable gift of motherhood. I love you both…. forever.