I cherish the construction-paper racecars and cut-out flowers you greeted me with this morning – charming expressions of your love and adoration. I’m sure you think it’s Mother’s Day and you owe me something, but honestly, I owe you something, too.
Mother means “To care for.”
Makes sense, right?
But this avenue called Motherhood is a two-way street, and there hasn’t been a day on the road where I didn’t gain from you or learn from you, My Dears.
Here are a few things I know now, intimately, because I share this life with you.
I know peace because I’ve felt your breath on my breast. I’ve seen you swirl bubbles in the tub and pull paint across a page with a chubby wooden brush.
I know fear because your ultrasound wasn’t perfect. Because you ran across that road, and I couldn’t catch you. Because your fever hit 105.
I know trust because you slept hard on my chest at a loud carnival. You swallowed the medicine I vowed would make you better. You squeezed my hand on the dark walk to the campground outhouse.
I know patience because I’ve seen every hour of night. I’ve held my tongue as you tried sounding out sight words like THE. I’ve listened to you count to 100 at least a hundred times, and I’ve typed thousand-word essays with only my right arm, toddler in the crook of my left.
I know wonder because I saw your eyes when the caterpillar emerged as a butterfly. I heard your voice exclaim, LOOK AT THAT FAT MOON.
I know kindness because your small hands broke a double-chocolate chunk cookie and passed me a piece, not a crumb…I’ll share with you, Mom. Because you brought your brother your favorite stuffed animal when he hurt his toe, and prayed for me when I had the flu. Because you call me Pretty Mommy.
I know goodness because you thanked me with your whole heart for a lunch of pretzel sticks and cheese cubes. Because when raindrops fell and your brothers darted inside, you cleaned up the backyard on your own.
I know anger because you colored my walls and dumped the soil from my houseplants onto the floor and gashed my new oak table.
I know self-control because you took a breath and used your words. Because I took a breath and used mine.
I know sadness because we cried together at Papa’s grave. Because sometimes when I tuck you into bed, you whimper, I miss that big guy. I miss that big guy.
I know joy because I watched you get the hang of that tricycle. I listened as you read your first story. I saw you jump from the boat into cool waters.
I know gentleness because you cupped that tiny toad in your hands. You whispered, Come here, Little Guy, as you snuggled your new puppy for the first time. You climbed carefully onto my lap when my belly had a bad boo-boo, and tenderly kissed your newborn niece’s forehead.
I know love because you run in from the backyard just to shout it to me through the patio door. You hug me like I’m some kind of hero when I return from an hour at the grocery store. You insist you’ll live with me forever.
And I love you enough to play along.
It may be Mother’s Day, but I’m saying thank you, too. Thank you for teaching me, nurturing me, and stretching me. Most of all, thank you for revealing a new depth of love to me.