Hi there, hardworking mama,
Happy Mother’s Day! I hope you can catch a break from the blood-curdling screams filling the serene morning and the muddy footprints on your just-mopped linoleum. I hope you feel cherished and appreciated for all of the unconditional love you give and hard work you do behind the scenes.
But, if you’ve been dreading Mother’s Day—if you’re more likely to get brushed off by your teen than breakfast in bed, or to hear “I hate you” and “I can do this on my own” paired with the sassy arms-folded-across-the-chest move than to receive a tender “I love you” and hug—I want you to know the unappreciated devotion you pour out is never wasted. Even if you feel neglected on this holiday, the one day dedicated to you, and even if a pit grows in your stomach when you see the glittering Instagram smiles from other mamas and their totally well-behaved little ones, listen close: never give up.
I know how easy it is to see the moms at the library or in the break room or at the PTO meetings and compare their supposedly perfect relationships with their children to yours; you can’t help but feel like a failure. I know you pour over parenting magazines and listen to well-meaning friends’ advice but feel like you are the exception to every rule because the “how-to” articles just don’t seem to cut it with your stubborn sons and diva daughters. But I want you to know, dear mama, that I see you, and your persistence will pay off. It might just take some time—and a change in perspective.
I know this because I was the spitfire daughter who made my own mama question her parenting, from the time I was in diapers until I left for college. Being a mom had been her life’s dream, but even though she followed the best mothering advice to a T, my aggressively independent self never quite appreciated her tender, constant love.
That is, until I left for college last year. Luckily, being three hours away from home drastically strengthened our relationship. I look back with regret at all the years I brushed off her wisdom and care, but remembering our rocky years gives me sweet appreciation for the close relationship we have now. There wasn’t a magical moment when our healing began, but I can pinpoint three points of my college experience that have hit me over the head with “Man, I really love my mom.”
A few months into my freshman year, I found myself curled up on top of my dorm’s washer, phone pressed to my ear as I sobbed to my mom and begged her to let me transfer to a community college. My mama knew best, of course, and told me to wait it out (and I’m so glad I did), but that conversation was the first of many moments I craved and truly cherished her comfort and wisdom.
Then, I remember opening a care package from home and going door-to-door down my hall, sharing the homemade cookies and gushing about just how much I missed and appreciated the chef behind the treats. I remember thinking, “I’ve always been so frustrated with those girls who say their moms are their best friends. Mom and I always fought. But now, I get it.”
Just a few weeks ago, I called my mom and asked her to visit—just because I missed her. As great as my college community is, I honestly wanted to spend an afternoon playing Scrabble and watching The Crown with her
instead of hanging out with crazy twentysomethings.
I wish I could hop back in time and crawl onto my mama’s lap and tell her I love her, or make her breakfast in bed with heart-shaped pancakes. But all I can do now is give her a phone call when I think about it (not just when I’m panicking in the laundry room) and tell you, dear mama, that you’re doing a great job. The hard work and love you’re pouring into your littles is never, ever, wasted.
If my mama would have given up on me in all of my stubborn, sassy glory, I wouldn’t have one of my best friends.
So, from me to you, Happy Mother’s Day. Even if it happens years in the future, the love you’re giving now might one day pay off in phone calls and cherished afternoons. Just because your relationship isn’t perfect doesn’t mean it’s not precious. Your love is priceless: don’t give up hope that your children won’t one day acknowledge it.
All my love,
A former teen terror who’s now Mom’s biggest fan