Tomorrow is Mother's Day, a day rooted in peace activism, but commercialized beyond recognition. Gabe was upset he didn't win me a cake at school on Friday and I told him that was fine, if he never bought me a single thing for Mother's Day, only remembered to come by or phone and say hi, I'd be ok with that. He was relieved. At not even nine years old he's already feeling the pressure of capitalism which pisses me off as you can imagine.
I used to want a lot of recognition on Mother's Day. Motherhood hasn't come easily to me; for a long time I didn't even know if I wanted kids (Gabe was a happy-ish accident) while Ryan knew forever he wanted to be a dad. Gabe and I's relationship got off on the wrong foot, to put it lightly. Flowers and a nice card, a quiet day, a pat on the back, some recognition for all the work I've done, and do, as Mom, isn't unwelcome, it's just not necessary any more. As a parent I'm doing a good job; my kids are happy, well adjusted and for the most part, polite. They know they are loved not just by their parents, but by their grandparents and aunts and uncles as well. Every day isn't ice cream and sprinkles but I keep trying to put into practise all of the things I've learned over the years on how to be the best mom I can, building on the foundation my mom laid for me, Leslie's shored up, and countless internet moms and science have expanded.
From my mom I learned to always tuck your kids in at night no matter how old they are, to take the time to check in and listen, to give them space to talk or just be with you. Leave the light on at night to guide them home. She is a model for knowing how to pick your battles, though there are a few I wish she'd fought a little harder. From her I get my no-nonsense attitude in a crisis and first aid skills, such as they are, and 'keep your head down and mouth shut' tendancies (which I tend to ignore when I probably shouldn't). My mom shows she cares by feeding us, tidying and taking care of my kids, and slipping me money my dad doesn't know about for little things I want or need. She may not always understand me but she's always supported me in the ways she can. It's not her way to make things easy for me or do for me things her mother never did. Both my parents have raised me with a very 'take care of yourself' focus and I think it's served me well in a lot of ways, and hindered me in others. I hope to temper this with my own kids.
Leslie has added her incredible generosity to the mix, showing me over and over there is nothing a parent wouldn't do for their kid. Seriously, the amount she has helped us out over the years would be embarassing to post. Throw in a sometimes overwhelming fierceness in protecting her famlily and you realize that woman is a tiger. Don't mess with her cubs.
Thanks to the internet I've been allowed to follow the journey of a few special moms and dads in intimate detail, from the woman at The Progressive Parent who lost her little boy Patrick to SUDC, to the hilarious dudes who run How to Be A Dad.com and their growing families. Evolutionary Parenting and The Feminist Breeder keep posting up the articles I need to practise patience, compassion and patience some more with myself and my kids, rooting their pieces in the latest science around child development. It helps me to know that my kid's brains are still building themselves, to remind myself that they're not just little adults in smaller bodies who just need instruction on how to be proper grownups.
I'm working this Mother's Day so here's to all the moms out there who are putting in the time, effort, blood, sweat and tears to do it as well as they can with what they have. For those of you who may be having a hard time with Mother's Day, being estranged from your mom or mourning her passing, I hope you get a chance to practise self-care today. Be kind to you.