In preparation to write a special Mother's Day column, I sat down to reflect on my 5 years of motherhood. The more I thought about the last 5 years, the more my thoughts went to my own mother.
As children, we never really understand our parents until we become parents ourselves, then their insanity becomes clearer. I can honestly say I didn't realize how much my parents loved me until I had kids of my own to love. That is a powerful realization and really makes one think. My parents have been loving me unconditionally for more than 30 years. That is a long time to have your heart invested in someone else. All the pain and sadness they must have felt when I got hurt, emotionally or physically, and all the joy and happiness I have brought into their lives. The coolest thing is this love still continues to grow today. I know my parents still love me and when they see my son and daughter their hearts burst with joy and love. It must be an amazing thing to see your kids as parents with children of their own.
Being a parent is an emotional and physical roller coaster. Within a moment's time you can go from happy to sad, joyful to angry. My mom never yelled at us growing up. Instead she had the BEST, worst at the time, guilt trip. I don't know how she perfected it, but when you upset her you got the silent-treatment and it was awful. There was nothing worse for me growing up than knowing I had disappointed her so badly that she couldn't even speak to me. It was horrifying at the time, but definitely a technique I will remember as my kids get older.
Respecting my parents was something I never lacked, though they may have thought so in my teenage years. I remember being around friends that would curse at their parents and I would be in total shock. I couldn't understand how they could treat their parents in such a way. As an adult, the respect I have for my parents has only strengthened. Though I tend to get into arguments with them over politics or driving routes, I would never disrespect my parents so much as to yell at them, something I've sadly seen other grown adults do. This sense of respect is also shared by my two older sisters and I only hope I'm able to instill this in my own children as my parents did in us.
My dad had a time-consuming yet flexible career in which he could often get away from work for our special events, games, concerts, etc. But then had to work late in the evening or overnight, often leaving my mom with 3 overly-involved, attitude-filled daughters to raise. Yet she never told us we couldn't be a part of something just because life was too busy for her or money was tight. She would willingly take us from activity to activity, and always made sure we had what we needed to participate. We didn't always have the newest high-tops for basketball or the fanciest dress for our band concerts; she made sure our self confidence developed more than our materialistic desires.
When I went off to college my parents told me I could do anything I wanted for a career. I swore to myself that I wouldn't be like my mother; I would be and do more. I mostly remember her working part-time so she could keep the house clean by day, have a meal prepared for supper (we always ate together) and chauffeur us from activity to activity in the evenings. I almost pitied her for being "stuck" at home with kids without a "real" career, or at least what I perceived as a real career.
As many things do, my perception of this all changed when I had a child of my own. I went from a motivated, work-driven, young woman with a master's degree working my way up the corporate ladder to all of a sudden wanting more freedom, flexibility and time for my new baby and family. Here I am today, working less than 40 hours a week in our family-owned business. It's not the career I dreamed about as a young adult, but the career I dream about as a young mother. Funny thing is I don't feel stuck, but free. I now see what my mom did for so many years. She gave every ounce of energy she had to running the household and family, while my dad worked hard to support our needs. Now I find myself making sure the house is clean (or at least trying), having dinner ready for my family (we will eat together every night) and I'm already my preschooler's chauffeur.
I don't know that I have ever properly thanked my mother for being such a strong influence in my life. I'm confident many people can relate, having not shown enough gratitude themselves. As we approach Mother's Day this weekend, take a few minutes out of your busy day to reflect on what your mom has done for you. Maybe there is one specific piece of advice that sticks out or, as for me, maybe you realize it was a culmination of many little things she taught through her words and actions. If you are fortunate enough to still have your mom around, show her your appreciation for what she has done for you, because big or small, she has helped mold you into who you are today.