Mother's Day has always been a big deal in my family. We're Italian Americans, so most other holidays in our home mean all the women in the family fight over who's doing what in the kitchen as we prepare enough food to last a family of six through the zombie apocalypse, or feed my three cousins for an afternoon, whichever comes first. But on Mother's Day, moms in my family don't lift a finger. And that's really important to me. Because she spends the rest of the year taking care of us, my mom expects Mother's Day to be her day, and I've always been happy to oblige her. Gifts from a very specific list, homemade French toast in bed, practicing the dance moves from Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal" — whatever she wanted on her special day, I did it happily.
When I got pregnant after a battle with infertility, along with being thrilled about finally having kids of my own, I admit I was looking forward to seeing how the other half lived on Mother's Day. I was stuck on bed rest all winter long, and would fantasize about what I wanted to do to celebrate Mother's Day once I was officially a mom. As much as I liked making my own mother happy, planning, prepping, and cooking brunch for the entire extended family every year was hard work, and I was ready to take off my apron and don a tiara for the day instead. It was my turn to be spoiled and adored for a change, so I planned to take full advantage of it. I had very specific ideas of what my ideal Mother's Day would look like, and to be honest, they didn't include my own mom.
Rather than make the hour-long drive drive back down to my hometown, I thought I'd get to indulge my own whims on Mother's Day, maybe take my kids outlet shopping to score some sweet Mother's Day sale deals or go for a long walk with the stroller and a fancy coffee. I thought maybe I'd drive down at some point Mother's Day weekend to say hi to my mom and bring her some flowers, but my days of showering her with attention were at an end. But once my twin boys finally arrived, I saw firsthand just how hard being a mom is, and I realized all my mother did for me made me appreciate her even more than I did before I became a mom myself.
I know I have it relatively easy as a new mom. I have financial resources and a supportive spouse with decent paternity leave, but still, becoming a parent rocked my world. I wasn't prepared for how radically different every single aspect of my life would be after having kids and I called my mom in tears a lot during the first year, convinced I had no idea what I was doing. (I still call her constantly for help with parenting issues, but once my kids see their precious Grandma on the iPad they immediately turn into angels, which typically solves whatever bad behavior of theirs I was about to complain about).
Every time I find myself struggling with being a parent, I think about how much harder things must have been for my mom, and it forces me to stop feeling sorry for myself and go take care of business. Even though she sacrificed going to college and having a stretch mark-free stomach for me, my mom never once made me or my younger sister feel like she resented us or that she wasn't happy with her life choices.
I was 29 when I became a mom. My partner and I carefully planned our path to parenthood: we finished grad school, established our careers, purchased a home, and saved a little nest egg before we even started trying to get pregnant. But my mom had me just days shy of her 17 birthday, and finished out her senior year of high school with the help of in-home tutors and a miniature me serving as her study buddy. She and my father had a tiny one-bedroom apartment and he worked nights, leaving her to take care of me alone most of the time.
My biggest concerns as a new mom were getting a photo of the babies that was cute enough to post on Facebook and worrying about what damage I'd do if I served them non-organic sweet potatoes, while my mom had to figure out how to get groceries when she had no car and study for her History final while caring for a baby with colic.
She was, and still is, a supportive and super fun parent, and has always been my best friend. There's no way I could be the mom I am to my own kids without her guidance.
Every time I find myself struggling with being a parent, I think about how much harder things must have been for my mom, and it forces me to stop feeling sorry for myself and go take care of business. Even though she sacrificed going to college and having a stretch mark-free stomach for me, my mom never once made me or my younger sister feel like she resented us or that she wasn't happy with her life choices. She was, and still is, a supportive and super fun parent, and has always been my best friend. There's no way I could be the mom I am to my own kids without her guidance.
Now that I'm a mom myself, it's even more important for me to spend Mother's Day making sure my mom knows just how much I think she rocks. Because she's generous and thoughtful, she always tries to pamper me on Mother's Day with gifts or my favorite foods, which only makes me feel like I owe her even more.
I'm looking forward to having that time with her, just the two of us, as we laugh and joke and cheer each other on even when we want to give up, just like we do in so many other aspects of our lives.
This year we're running a 10k together for the second time, and I'm fine with taking that time (if my training works, hopefully not more than an hour) away from my own kids on Mother's Day because it's important to me to spend time with my own mom on a day that's all about us both. I'm looking forward to having that time with her, just the two of us, as we laugh and joke and cheer each other on even when we want to give up, just like we do in so many other aspects of our lives.
This is my fourth Mother's Day as a mom. My own kids are still young enough that to them Mother's Day is just a day to tell my I'm pretty and eat their dad's killer pancakes (hint, hint if you're reading this, Zander). I'm sure once they're old enough to understand what all the fuss is about they'll want to start their own traditions with me, and that's great. But I'll always make time for my own mom on Mother's Day because for me, she's the one who deserves to be treated special.