Thanks a Million, Mom

On my first Mother’s Day as a mom I wrote something for my mother about all the little things I never realized I should thank her for until I had my own child. After having spent the last year caring for another infant those words still ring so true that I thought I’d re-post them:

Over the years I’ve thanked my mother again and again for all the support she’s given me in life, for all the chorus and band recitals she sat through, for the birthdays and holidays she made special, for pushing me to be my best, for allowing me to do more and be more and experience more than she was allowed to do and be and experience as a kid.

But until this past year, I never knew enough to thank her for the less noticeable “mom” stuff, the stuff I don’t remember or couldn’t understand until I experienced it firsthand.

So thank you, Mom, for enduring the anxiety and discomfort of pregnancy, and the pain and uncertainty and exhilaration and terror of labor, to bring me into the world. Thank you for all the nights you got up from your bed to come to mine and soothe me back to sleep. Thank you for the million tiny prayers you sent up on my behalf, every day, even now, whenever you read or saw something about a child being sick or lost or hurt or, God forbid, killed. Thank you for all the times you surrendered yourself into fits of silliness, making funny faces and blowing raspberries on my tummy and dancing around the living room to make me giggle.

Thank you for wondering “Is this right? Am I doing okay?” about a thousand times in quiet moments right before you fell asleep at night. Thank you for overcoming your frustrations when I was clingy or whiny or overtired or sick to keep caring for me with tenderness even when you felt like your mother’s deep well of tenderness had surely run dry. Thanks for putting up with every diaper change I squirmed through, every bit of food I threw at you, and every time I spit up on a clean shirt you’d just put on.

Thank you for giving up your free time, surrendering your privacy, and setting aside some of the dreams you had as a woman to make room for all the new dreams you carried as a mother. Thank you for all the warm baths and bottles, all the practicing you did with me to say “Dada” and “Mama” and “milk.” Thank you for holding onto my chubby fingers and helping me take my first steps. Thank you for all the hugs and kisses and smiles you showered me with in that first year, and know that those tiny acts of love created the foundation of love and independence and happiness on which I built my life.

Mom, I always appreciated you as a mother but I couldn’t fully understand who you are — who you’ve been — to me until now. Now I get it. Now I realize that all those years when you hinted and asked and practically begged me to tell you whether I was ever going to “start a family,” it wasn’t because you merely wanted to be a grandma. It was because you desperately, secretly wished for me to experience the same blessings of being a mom that you’ve experienced.

I’ve learned this past year that parenthood sucks up your time and money and patience, but in their place it leaves this warmth and richness that is quite indescribable until you feel it yourself, from the bottom of your heart to the top of your soul. I hope when I was a baby, and a child, and perhaps even now, I added some of that warmth and richness to your heart, Mom. It’s the least I could do, for all you gave to me.

And because I am now mothering two children, I have a few more “thank yous” to add:

Thank you, Mom, for my siblings. Thank you for finding within yourself the ability to love all of us equally yet differently. And thank you for instilling in us respect for and allegiance to one another.

Thank you for working so hard to put food on the table for every meal, every day, even when it was met with complaints or downright refusal to eat it. And thank you for all those times you found yourself on your hands and knees picking up the food that was so carelessly dropped, spilled or thrown.

Thank you for enduring the exhaustion that comes with caring for more than one child in diapers. Thank you for all the juggling and cross-checking that took place just to get us out the door, or into bed. Thank you for dealing with all the extra splashing and water and chaos that comes with bathing two children at the same time.

Thanks for folding laundry at midnight because that was the only free time you had to do it. And thanks for giving up whatever it was you would have liked to do with that precious free time in favor of making sure your kids had clean clothes to wear the next day.

Thank you for bearing the days when the whining and fussing of multiple children seemed enough to send you running for the hills. Thank you for the sacrifices you made to be home with us as much as you could be, even in those tiny secret moments when you wished to be somewhere — anywhere — else.

Thank you for forcing us to share, but for never making us feel like there wasn’t enough of you to go around.

Thank you, Mom, especially for the laughter, the love and the lullabyes.

Something tells me I’ll have more to add to this list every year. Happy Mother’s Day to every mom out there — but mostly to mine.

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