4 Mother’s Day Lessons I’ve Learned from Over the Years

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When I was pregnant with my first child, the idea of being grandly celebrated on Mother’s Day had some allure. Hallmark, florists, restaurants and other lifestyle companies have effectively marketed this day for decades. Images of breakfast-in-bed and smartly dressed kids expressing platitudes danced in my hormone filled, pregnant head. Then, I had kids. And, the truth of our “day of honor” exposed itself like the layers of Shrek’s complex onion. There are a lot of things i’ve learned from Mother’s Day

This Day – and Kids – Changes

More specifically, then, I had boys. And, as naturally happens, we all got older. We went from our new, blissful family beginning and we moved into each phase of age, growth and change – for both my sons and me. Life shifted from the adorable playdate and Mommy-idolization era and into a zone of living with slightly larger people who possessed their own opinions, interests, and social schedules. Then, life morphed into parenting young adults: driver’s licenses, jobs, people actually taller than me, and ugly, raging hormones.

Somewhere in all that, Mother’s Day changed. Certainly, my now 18 years of Mother’s Days have been wonderful, and I have received those loving platitudes. Yet, I’ve realized concretely that the societal marketing around this day doesn’t reflect the reality of all this change or, really, of life.

Older Kid Mother’s Day doesn’t look at all like that cliche. And it hasn’t for quite some time.

But do not fret, my dear Momma. What is miraculous, is that Mother’s Day simply becomes a whole new (sometimes literal) ballgame.

4 Mother’s Day Lessons

Picture perfect means very little.

My life – and mothering – isn’t about perfectly dressed children, a fancy brunch, or two hours of time that I am “allocated” to do something for myself. (That, Sister, is self-care and an entirely other discussion). For sure, I have these adorable memories of both of my sons skipping across the yard with flowers and screaming ‘HAPPY MOMMIES’ DAY, MOMMY’ – perhaps that is idyllic. But, my Mothers Days for years have been spent doing what my life often involves – driving my sons to double header baseball games all over New England. The day has been spent picnicking with Cumberland Farms snacks and either sweating – or freezing – on the sidelines. It’s our life: it’s a bit dirty, often not as a complete family due to competing schedules, and not at all a Hallmark image. There are often curse words, the occasional tired argument, and sometimes some deep conversations. But it’s glorious, as it’s ours. After all, isn’t it the quality of the time that matters, not the image of the time?

Simple gifts mean the most.

When my kids were little, I received purchased gifts “from” my little boys – engraved necklaces and framed items and an assortment of gift cards. There were also the handmade gifts from school or ones coordinated by others, which I display still and love. But as time goes on, responsibility shifts to your kids to think of and purchase gifts. Now, my son using his own earned money to buy things like my favorite candy and flavoring to put in my seltzer water. Those small gifts are the most thoughtful of all. My kids know me  and have taken moments to observe what I enjoy over time; that is what it’s all about and nothing means more now.

You thank your own mom—and really, really mean it.

Becoming a mom instills deep gratitude in you for your own mother. However, there is nothing like being a mom for many years and life phases to bring this to a whole new level. Years ago, I may have thanked my mom for all she’s done for me. But these days, after almost two decades of mothering myself, my gratefulness runs much truer. Now that I understand firsthand the love, the worry, and the sacrifice that went into raising me all that time. I can’t help but thank her in a way that’s more genuine than it ever could have been before.

It’s not about this day; it’s the long-haul.

I have a huge memory box full of cards from my sons. There’s adorable, scrawled drawings and beginnings of letters. Over time, some transformed into longer, in-depth siliques from older kids. All of these I’ll pull out and read long after they’ve moved out. Yet, let’s be real. I also have a couple cards that one of them began scribbled in pencil, clearly became distracted, and never finished. I’ve had a day where my sons didn’t mention Mother’s Day until about 3pm mid grunt. They’ve been on their phones, haven’t talked on the way home from that all-day double header, or came down half awake at 11am asking me what’s for breakfast. But in these older years, it hasn’t phased me, as that isn’t what matters. What matters is that on Mother’s Day and all other 364, I know that these now young men have my back – just as I’ve had theirs all this time. It’s the long haul that matters, not just Mother’s Day.

I don’t buy into the image that one day a year, my family is obligated to help, cook or give thanks. If my family isn’t saying thank you and making things a team effort all year…. one day won’t fix it.

Things I’ve learned from Mother’s Day?

This day does provide a way for me to gather concrete expressions of their appreciation. But it’s the other 364 days that truly make up what Mother’s Day is and primarily what it becomes as your kids age – the long lasting, day in and out core relationship between a Mom and her kids: the “I’ve got your back” everyday. 

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Hi All, I’m Rebecca! I’ve worked in marketing strategy in the healthcare and wellness industry since college and my MBA for 20+ years (yikes!!). I’m blessed to have combined my geeky professional self with my passions: awareness of and mental health supports for disenfranchised populations and communities. I volunteer in educating the greater community about the real experiences of those in (and out of) recovery from the disease of addiction. I was so honored to give a TED talk in 2019 about removing stigma and shame by simply shifting the language we use, as this is near and dear me. Yet, at the end of the day, my family is everything in my world. I live with my husband Mike and two teenage sons in Lee, along with a crazy cattle dog (Maggie), cat (Leia), fish, 100 snails and soon to be chickens. While a Jersey shore girl at heart, living in MA and NH since the late 90s has fully converted me to a New England sports fan and avid skier, hiker and kayaker. I guess I’m a perfectly imperfect, harmonious, and happy runner, who cares deeply for humans, and Mother Nature. Follow me on Instagram @mommabear5786 to see what life in a house of boys, recovery, loud music, a bit of attitude, and nature looks like!

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