Today, appropriately, I reflect on Mother's Day and the ever changing meaning that day has. Granted, Matt is under the belief that all days should reflect societies appreciation for Moms and all that they do, but he got the message loud and clear when I told him, "I better have something for Mother's Day, if I don't you will be in trouble. Big trouble."
Growing up, Mother's Day was about helping my dad celebrate and honor my mom. He always made sure a good meal was ready and would have some sort of present for her. My sister and I tried hard to make little tokens of our appreciation too. None of those handmade gifts stick out in my head, but I am sure they were much loved at the time. I have the distinct honor of having an excellent relationship with my mom. We have always enjoyed one another's company and often chose to spend time together growing up. We would walk the neighborhood, run errands together, watch "Supermarket Sweep", or read curled up on the couch together. As mother and daughter we obviously spent some special moments together, I love when you recall little moments that are filed away deep in your memory that you haven't thought of recently. My mom loved me in the way that only a mom can and I feel that love each day. I remember telling my mom one day, shortly after Mac was born, with tears in my eyes, "I can't believe it, the way I love her, is the way you love me! That's amazing!"
Joining Matt's family meant taking on another Mother and one I have very much enjoyed having in my life. It is interesting to acquire such an important woman at a later point in life, there is always that bridge that needs to be crossed in learning about one another and how to communicate and show love to each other. Deb has been generous in her time and support of Matt and I. I cherish the times that we share and wish we had them more often. We have very much tried to show her our appreciation on Mother's Day, planning little gifts, special meals, and heart felt cards, we know our efforts have been appreciated.
I think about my friends and other family members that are moms. Moms that parent similarly to us, moms that choose different ways. Moms that limit their number of children, moms that secretly hope for and desire more. Moms that need to work, moms that are at home. Moms that do it all, moms that take things easy. We all weave an intricate web of parenting choices. Often, we pay lip service to supporting one another and disregard the idea that we are all doing our best in the next breathe. We get too caught up in taking the easy road out, rather than recognizing that sometimes, doing the right thing means doing something that is challenging, difficult, or uncomfortable.
I think about my friends who have struggled with becoming a mom. Moms that are expecting and count each day until they see the heartbeat flicker, until they reach the end of the first trimester, until the see certain features on ultrasounds, and waiting for those two terms that are comfort to all parent's hearts "viable" and then later "full term". Moms that have kids and are trying for another. Moms that are debating whether to expand their family. Moms that want more kids but can't due to a number of circumstances. Moms that aren't sure if they want more. Moms that face the difficult road of infertility and health concerns. Moms that are waiting for adoption. Moms that have welcomed children into their home and saw them moved elsewhere. Moms that rejoiced over children in their womb and saw them lost before seeing their little faces. My heart is especially filled on this day for them. I have two sweet friends in particular who have loved children temporarily in their home and have had to say goodbye, losing a part of their heart with children who, according to law, weren't theirs. I hope they know that they are still Moms to those kids, just in a different way. I also think of a dear friend who is moving along on foreign adoption, how much we anticipate that child with them, wondering if he or she is out there waiting for that application to go through a complicated system. We pray with them (and all adopting Mommies) that God's love sustains these children even more and that His "hugs" are transferred back and forth until they can love each other in person.
I think about my kids, who have made me a whole new person.
MacKenzie, the girl who made me a mom, one of my favorite titles in the world. We cherished her from the moment we found out we were expecting her, over four years ago, we were excited about each day we got to spend with her, growing in my belly, and gleefully anticipated that moment she would be placed on my chest. Where I would lock eyes with her and tell her, "Hello little one, I am your Mommy." I didn't know that she would be more brilliant than I could have ever imagined or hoped for. I didn't know how her eyes would shine with pride when she learned something new. I didn't know how her dimple would flash, barely noticeable, when pleased or in moments of shyness. I didn't know that I would fret about doing a good enough job in teaching her, guiding her, and leading her into the person she would become. But the loving her, that has come naturally. The moments of exhaustion in her first months, all fade into memories of snuggles and comforting her in the only way I could. The repetition and methodical learning, transform into new skills that lead to pictures, flowers picked, and statements of love and happiness, reciprocating my love back to me.
Keegan, our bonus child, the one I never knew I wanted until 5 months into Mac's life when I craved to be pregnant again. My sweet girl, who is as fierce as her name implies, but also loves to be loved. The clever little girl who walks around with an air of confidence which was present at birth. The funny one who hides that cleverness until she is ready to reveal it in her terms, who we go back and compare to her older sister and realize she is just as brilliant, it is just lost in that "second child". A child who I loved in a different way from everyone else, obvious by comments of "How did you stand all that screaming?!?" which I don't remember very well, if at all. For all the ways I love Mac, I love Keegan in entirely different ways, the way she nurtures and cares for others, the way she flits around like a social butterfly, the way she grins her impish grin just to make us laugh, and how she wiggles her way into everyone's arms, laps, and hearts until she has completely won them over. As if she really cared, she knows she is amazing and just thinks your life would be better off with her in it too!
Johnny, the boy who has completely stole our hearts. The boy who stirred this Mommy's heart into expanding in a way I didn't think it could, much less would. And while I would do anything for my girls and get completely caught up in that love on an hourly basis, the love I feel for my little man is different, it stirs in a different place, a place deep within, at the bottom of my heart, that almost growls with protection and fierce love for him. A love that will fight battles and break barriers in order to make sure that his needs will always be met. A love that anticipates great things, but also basks in the glow of the smallest moments that probably passed by, unnoticed, with the girls. A love that relaxes into long cuddles on the couch despite a thousand things needing to be done. A love that rejoices over every new accomplishment and works hard to meet milestones that we have deemed as important, rather than a book or guidelines. A love that is proud and defiant, in a way that only others that love kids like Johnny can understand, feeling immensely honored to selected to be a part of his life, and feeling a little sad for those who don't know how good it can be. A love that understands that the struggles and difficulties make the victories a thousand times better and make your heart burst all the more.
For Mothers, past and present, that come in all shapes and sizes, just like their kids, I honor you and celebrate you today. And to the kids who make us who we are, I celebrate you too!