The boys took me out to Nina for lunch yesterday. We love it there. They had a lovely prix fixe Mother's Day menu with complimentary Mimosas. Yum. Both Chris and I got the Eggs Benedict, Milo got Blueberry Pancakes and Quinn had pasta with butter. It was delicious and I loved the speed and efficiency with which they were serving. It was busy, but when you are at a restaurant with kids, you don't want anything to take too long. We had a really wonderful time. Quinn is perhaps old enough now for more restaurant meals!
Milo and Quinn were so well behaved that a beautiful women complimented us when she was leaving, saying it was a pleasure for her to be dining right next to us. For a mother, there is nothing that feels better than a stranger complimenting your kids for good behavior. Our secret this time though? My iPhone. Quinn happily played a game in between the courses, while we were able to keep Milo occupied with conversation and a trip to the kitchen.
What do you think of my Tom Ford sunglasses? Too big? Just right? They were a gift from the boys and they are to replace the brown ones that I had for the last four years and lost recently, but they are black and slightly different. I think I love them, but they are just a tad bigger than my old ones and I can't decide if they look good or if they are too high on the top. Tell me what you think!
Thanks to my dear Christopher, for making Mother's Day special with the kids. After lunch they dropped me off at home for a massage while they went to the park. Did you hear that? He had a massage therapist come to the house for me! Nice one my dear! However, his real score today was the gift that he and the kids made for me. It made my teary at just how thoughtful and well done it was. He he printed out pictures of the boys onto card stock with their initials, had them draw on the back and had them laminated. Then he made a trip to the craft store and picked out matching yarn and charms for each one. Aren't they beautiful bookmarks? I will treasure them forever.
And to my own Mom in Canada: I love you dearly, miss you immensely, and look forward to seeing you soon. Here is a photo of my Mom with three month old me. Isn't she pretty? Much of what we learn about mothering is influenced by our own mothers. The things that they did for us are emblazoned in our heads and our hearts and as we begin to mother our own children, we want to do for them some of those things that we loved. Often for me, the blissful things were unplanned moments like the sun streaming in the window as she folded clothes, the feeling of her hand stroking my face while I fell asleep or when she defended my backyard from the neighbourhood kids. It's these moments that remind me of the things that I want to do for my own children, create a quiet and peaceful home, taking the time to help them fall asleep, honor and protect their feelings.
I see my mother differently now that I am a mother. I understand her struggles, what she was challenged with and why she did those things that I resented as a child. I appreciate her in a way that you can only when you have walked in someone else's shoes. Thanks for everything Mom.
Being a mother is something that happens from the moment you decide to have children. There is a shift in your brain as you begin to do things for someone other than yourself completely selflessly. It's not the same as doing things for a partner, for whom we expect the same care in return. Becoming a mother is a choice to do things that may not be the best thing for ourselves, but will be the best thing for someone else. And so, to my sister, you are already a mother. These things that you are doing and planning to do to become pregnant put you squarely in the mother category. You are already caring for your future children and I wish you all the best of luck and love and baby dust in the coming months. Happy Mother's Day to you too.
Here are some past Mother's Day posts on Lights and Letters:
May 15th, 2008: Mother's Day Every Day
May 9th, 2010: I Love My Mother Because I Do
Around the web there were also some fantastic posts about issues related to mothering. Check out my favorites:
Can genderless parenting exist? Andrea Ducet at PhD in Parenting asks "Are you still the mother?"
Katie Granju reflects on a "Village of Moms" while her 18 year old son Henry was in the hospital with critical injuries last year. Sadly, Henry died a few weeks after she wrote this but this Village will help support her and her family through their grief.
Liz Grumbiner wrote Love Letters from My Mom detailing all the fabulous things that her mother has written to her in emails over the years.
To Mama With Love featured on Shutter Sisters. I just learned about this project, but I might have to purchase one of the photos in the print sale. All proceeds will be invested in the dreams of these four inspirational women changemakers who create hope in our world.
Brooke Reynolds explains how to make Mother's Day Portraits with kids on Inchmark Journal.
Finally, last week, Milo's Mother's Day Tea at preschool was super adorable and sweet. They sang songs, made us flowers and drew pictures of us. They were asked what their mother liked to do and some kids answered, "play with me" or some said "take me to the park". They believed that their Mother's favorite thing to do was to take care of them. Isn't that sweet? Milo answered that my favorite thing to do was "work, work, work." Now, this would be fine if I had a job, but I am technically a stay-at-home-Mom, so in a way, this answer hurt a little.
I think though, on reflection, that I am fine with his answer. It reflects Milo's unending empathy. He's right, my favorite thing to do IS work on my own projects. And in the last year I have increased the amount of time I have been spending "working". Work is the word that I use for time that I spend by myself. When I paint I am working, when I am taking pictures or writing, I am working. For me, work equals time not only time I spend by myself, but time I spend ON myself. It's very sweet that Milo recognises that, but I wanted to know if it bothered him. One could read his answer and think that maybe he resented all the time I spent working lately. When I asked him, he simply said no, that it doesn't bother him that I work.
So there you have it. It took a five year old's observations for me to recognise that I am, in fact, a working mother. That kind of made me gasp. Despite the fact that I am not currently being PAID money for any of this, I do work. And I enjoy it. And that's ok.
When I talked about it with my friend she said how it wasn't so bad and that it could have been worse. At least he didn't say that my favorite thing to do was "drink" or "kiss the mailman." Another friend's son had said one mother's day that his Mom's favorite thing to do was "nap". Funny and she admitted, true. But still, as a mother, don't we want our children to think that our favorite things to do are to take care of them?! What if it's not always, what if they see through the curtain and realize, like Milo does, that my favorite thing is to take care of myself? Is that so bad? Will it teach him to also value his own needs too? Ah, all these tricky issues from a simple question to a five year old. Of course we love to care for our kids and of course we love to also take care of ourselves. Finding the right balance for each person is the key to being a happy mother.
I suppose the bottom line is that mothering is not always what we think it is. Those obvious stereotypes only scratch at the surface of being a mother. It's a complicated role that can be filled with a plethora of actions, behaviors and emotions. We can feel differently about it at different times and we can be good at it one minute and suck at it the next. It's a role that can also be filled by different people at different times. It doesn't have to be us all the time. All we can do is try our best to love our children as much as we can and know that we have many, many chances to be good and to do good and that if we missed the chance today, there is always tomorrow. Hopefully in the end, for our children, the good moments that they remember are greater than the rough ones. That we mostly fulfilled their needs and taught them important things and helped them to grow up to be independent, healthy people who love and live a happy life.