Last week my six-year-old daughter asked me if I had “flowers with a vase.” I said yes. She then asked me if I had a “tray.” I said yes. Then she asked me, “What do you like to eat for breakfast?” while she tried her very best to list everything down on a piece of paper, double-checking to see if her spelling was right.
By this time, I guessed at her elaborate plan for this year’s Mother’s Day celebration, but I kept silent and played along.
She thoughtfully listed down as best as she could:
- pancakes with butter and syrup
- sunny-side eggs
- egg omelette
- whole wheat toast with butter
- granola and/or bran cereal with skim milk
- and coffee, triple-triple
Later she conspired with Daddy and her older brother on how they could help to execute her plan. I could overhear her dictating her plan-of-action and the excited, yet serious tone she had with the “boys” in our family:
“Daddy, you need to wake up extra early and cook breakfast for Mommy, okay? This is what she wants for breakfast. I made a list. I can help you.”
Daddy is no expert on making pancakes, but to deny his wife, the mother of his children, and his somewhat demanding daughter with her expectant and hopeful face would be almost blasphemous. He couldn’t do anything, of course, but agree.
“Cuya, we need to wake up at 8:00 a.m. so we can help Daddy cook! Mommy will wake up at 9:00 a.m. so we have to be ready!”
My 11-year-old son shrugged his concession to his younger sister’s decisive authority like a trooper.
And I smiled to myself at my daughter’s thoughtfulness, organization, and brave tenacity. I could not have been more flattered, nor prouder of her. My girl took a leadership role with great initiative—on my behalf.
While I’ve never really been overly excited about Mother’s Day in the past, my daughter’s sweet gesture stirred up an unanticipated thrill in me that was finally met Sunday morning.
I woke up, went to the washroom, washed my hands, and jumped back into bed well aware of my Mother’s Day “surprise!” I could hear my children speaking in hushed tones, my daughter busy orchestrating the course of action. There was a lot of running back and forth down the hallway, as well as clanking of the dishes, so I could only imagine the havoc in the kitchen. Poor Daddy.
But, I lay there, content to wake up to the noise of my family—the daily rumblings of their routine; their small voices yelling loudly (which when unchecked usually give me migraines); their clumsy hands quick to drop juice on the floor; their eager legs running up and down the stairs; their toys carelessly scattered all over (and I mean, all over) the house; their doodles slapped across my desk; their crayon stories scribbled on documents that shouldn’t have scribbles on them; and their articles of clothing that magically grow in mounds on the floor.
There was a gorgeous irony in my happiness.
Everything I usually work so hard to “clean-up” or “control” during the course of our daily routine as a family was haphazardly dismantled in a mad rush to do something that was, in essence, supposed to please me.
On any other “normal” day, I would be anxious and stressed out about the mess, somewhat annoyed or frustrated with the perpetual expectation that the “burden” of most of the work would eventually rest on me in my role as a mother.
But, on Sunday, the messy chaos of my family actually reminded me of the deep value of what I have in them: an extremely loyal, responsible, and considerate husband and life-partner whose sacrifices are often done out of a sweet tenderness, and a deep love, and devotion to me and our children; and two, gorgeous and gregarious children whose humility have often accepted our health and/or financial difficulties as a family with grace, understanding, and little complaining.
I am graced with a family who, for one day at least, made an extra-thoughtful attempt to celebrate who I am as a person, even though I could not be that person without them.
So, Sunday morning I allowed myself to sleep in without guilt or the rush of worry. I sprawled underneath my warm blanket and indulged in the idea of being spoiled by my family with breakfast in bed.
My breakfast routine usually consists of granola cereal with milk and a side of yogurt and fruit, but for one day I allowed myself to enjoy a little more food than what I’m used to eating. You know—for the sake of the children and all their hard work.
The food was not only delicious (notice how good food tastes when someone else makes it for you?), but it was wonderfully presented, too. The omelette had a perfect mix of green pepper, onion, and tomato, while the bran cereal was still crisp in the bowl, and the pancakes’ shape, all perfect circles. I was so impressed with the pancakes, I doubted that my husband actually made them, but suspected they were the frozen pancakes sold in a box. I was, however, reassured that Daddy did work hard in the kitchen and the “perfect” pancakes were indeed his.
After having my fill and offering as much as I could to my little ones with my daughter ecstatic to oblige (she chomped down those pancakes with glee), I was escorted downstairs to a small package wrapped in yellow tissue paper, taped with a homemade card:
I love you, Mommy.
You are the best Mommy.
You are a very nice Mommy.
I love you the best.
These are the words a mother is honoured to hear. And I certainly was, in seeing and reading my daughter’s six-year-old, careful script. I was especially touched that she thought to draw me as one of my favourite and beloved characters, a mermaid:
That’s me in the drawing! She depicted me with gorgeous, long, and red hair, red scales and fin, and a green bodice. And look at those thick waves, rich in movement by my daughter’s imagination!
Forgive me for posting a photograph of myself while in a nightgown, an unmade face, and crazy, tousled, bed-hair, but not only did I just wake up, but the photo tells the harsh truth about what I look like on most days as a “mother.”
But, as it’s said, looks can be deceiving. While I appear disheveled in a periodical state of busyness, stress, or worry, the joy of being a mother is far more attractive than what any makeup or fashion statement can ever try to conjure up on the runway of my daily life…even on a good day.
Happy Mother’s Day to every mother who has ever known what it is to love and raise a child. To birth mothers, adoptive mothers, foster mothers, single mothers, and stepmothers. You know who you are. Know you are loved and appreciated by your children in a way that no one else can.
And to those who love and miss their own mothers who have passed away, or those who don’t necessarily have a good relationship with their mothers, to those who have lost children, or may have a strained relationship with their children—may you find forgiveness, solace, and healing in your heart on the day that honours its mothers.
And love to all the mothers who cry tears of joy at the sight of their children, tears of laughter at the silliness and awkwardness of them, the way they bewilder us with their intelligence and creativity, their innocence, and their unabashed, brutal honesty, the tears of worry at each bump, bruise, and illness they have ever endured, and the tears of love and awe in watching them grow each day with…or without us.
May we always be reminded of the life we helped to create, raise, and hope the best for, each and every Mother’s Day.
I hope yours was as happy as mine.
How did you celebrate Mother’s Day this year?
What is the fondest memory you have of your mother?
If you’re a mother yourself, what is the fondest memory you share of your child(ren)?