My Mother’s Day Gift


The best gift I was ever given was Kat, a teeny bundle dropped in my heart and blew every love story I ever heard or imagined out of the water. I ached from the pain of being pregnant again, certain I couldn’t love at this capacity for two human beings.

Leave it to baby Lola to challenge me, for she is a love story of such deep heart wrenching beauty it hurts, my heart pulsed in pain from the might of her tiny fingers, perfect toes, edible thighs. It was the first time in my life I suddenly realized the awful predicament these two gifts brought.

I was in charge.

What an irony, huh moms?

My mother is an earth mother, never felt better pregnant, lived in the moment of every diaper, thrilled at every one of our adventures, all four of us, all a task I can hardly imagine.
She was ideal, an intellect with the gift of overflowing youth, always in the dirt or on the tennis court, the jokes of her beating grown men in tennis, now a granny, still remain.
I saw her fight, breathe, live, drink being a mother, first and foremost, her only passion, her dream and purpose.

She loves education, structure, rules, good nutrition and well behaved manners, and does it with such ease, I never questioned where the energy came, her nutrition and vitamin regulated care with little television and continuous running schedules were instilled from the day I arrived.

I thought that I of course, would be just like that.

Um, the bomb dropped and quick that not only was I nothing like that, I could never be.

It was such a defeat as a young mom, the ADD poster child who just trying to juggle one baby, just one, must less four, my big triumphs had become not finding my cell phone in the freezer, not having a full blown panic attack over Kat choking on a cheerio, lists flying out the window while driving, energy drained, pleas and cries for just one night of sleep, knowing the kitchen was messy, the nipples were bleeding, and my sex drive completely gone.

That was usually a good day.

I was determined to be better, do better, be more like her.
The hurt of missing them made me cry on the way to work every day, but the relief of seeing real live adult people to chat and talk with slapped the guilt on like peanut butter, the jelly of my hell sandwich was the inability to have anything left for my husband.

It ate me up, unlike peanut butter and jelly, left the taste of aching, empty, unworthy failure.

And still, even in my lowest, the no days of sleep followed by work and a surprise double ear infection, I wouldn’t trade those two jewels for a cushy life in Hawaii, sipping pina coladas, eating chocolate and reading novels.

They are the soul of who I am, the only things I love enough to work, bleed, fight, cry, and give for.
I would be a selfish shell of a woman without them.

It wasn’t until I realized that I wasn’t born to me my mother, but I was born to be free of this ridiculous notion I could be anything well, if it weren’t just me being myself. These thoughts began the long self defeating battle of no longer suffering through motherhood, but I began to enjoy it, the laughter came, my eyes lit up, food once again had flavor, my heart would bloom with gratitude.

It was a long process to this moment, I tell you.
My mother in law would say I didn’t clean the microwave right, my mom would comment on my pop tart breakfast, the ladies at church had rows of homemade dinners when Kat came down completely naked at two, her clothes upstairs, our first attempt to try a church group.

Lola always stands up for me, her little hands sway and announce, “My mom can’t cook because SHE is an ARTIST,” like that were magnificent. I swell in pride until I wonder what will happen the first time she stays for a whole day with a cook for a mom.

That might not look as awesome, even though a part of me smiles, doubting those mothers have panty parties, dance to Michael Jackson, on top of the table, claim to know real fairies, or sob with their children on the hard days.

I don’t pretend not to be as lost as to why Stella could punch Lola, for I don’t know, but I do cry with her, my arms rocking her, the advice ran through my head of all the wise words my mom gave. But, the truth is, those were her words.
Not mine.
That was always where it is blurry, where she begins and I end, or vice versa, and not until the last few years have I seen the illusion crumble, this idol of perfection and wisdom as an adult had to shatter, leaving me with the truth that shocked and horrified me.

My mom had been lost too.
She is, perhaps, human, like me?
No. No way,

And so, I shall just let them know now, to avoid future face plant from any notion I have a clue what I am doing, or if it will be okay, like I could know or protect them from pain, have any of your mothers been able?
The things they need that matter could slip, the things I thought so important will one day they may say has been useless.
Kat may only remember me as not being punctual, and Lola may repeat all the mistakes I made, a thought I shudder at.

The only truth I have found this mother’s day, now being a full grown up of a mere nine years of parenting, is that you cannot give what you do not have.
If I want them to know they are worthy, I must believe I am.
If I want them to know they are beautiful, I must like what I see reflecting back to me.
If I want them to see what unconditional love with a man their little hearts flutter and long for, I must not give up on love, not for them, but for me.

That has been the trickiest part of this thing called motherhood, so messy and so wonderful, but today I hope all of you moms love and forgive the crimes you believe worthy of prison, for we all have them.
It may not show up like an earth mother or an artist working mom, but even the monogrammed moms are more alike me than different.
I firmly believe that.
Come out from your guilt and fear and criticism, see the light in your children’s eyes when they see you, and today, if just once, give yourself this gift.
Believe you are perfect in your imperfections, the flame of beauty in the babies you raise, hold a glass of wine and when they whine, fight, disobey, or make all your worst fears a reality, make a toast.

You’re worth it.

4 thoughts on “My Mother’s Day Gift

  1. “If I want them to know they are worthy, I must believe I am.
    If I want them to know they are beautiful, I must like what I see reflecting back to me.” – profound

  2. Hi Cathleen. Thank You so much for todays words! You are an inspiration to me!!

  3. I feel that it’s so true that our children learn their self worth through how their parents see themselves. You have to love yourself in order for your children to love yourself. Being pregnant, I have been thinking about that a lot. I don’t want to use words like ‘diet’, ‘fat’, ‘ugly’ especially when talking about myself. I don’t want my little girl thinking she isn’t good enough, beautiful enough, skinny enough etc. The most I can do is love her to death and love myself so that she will love herself too.

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