This Sunday is Mother’s Day: the day of fragrant bouquets, breakfasts-in-bed and sweet handmade gifts from our kids. It’s a lovely day to remember our moms, and to honour our partners for the job they do in parenting our little ones. Mother’s Day is awesome. But honestly? It’s not a day I ever thought would be one I would celebrate for myself.
When my husband and I got married, we had decided that we wouldn’t have children — we both loved kids, but hadn’t felt the urge to have any of our own. And then, suddenly we did.
The truth is that I never thought I’d be a very good parent — I’m really impatient, a fact that sadly, hasn’t changed much since I became a mom. But I’ve surprised myself: despite my impatience, I’ve learned that I’m a really good listener. And I’m empathetic: my daughter knows that I’ll never tease her or make light of anything that she finds to be a serious matter. She’s only 8, but I know that she feels like she can talk to me about anything and I’ll listen carefully.
I honestly didn’t know I had it in me.
I’ve been spending time thinking about Mother’s Day recently, and while Mother’s Day gifts are lovely, the revelations and new experiences throughout the year are even more rewarding that the flowers and the handmade cards. I’m so grateful Marcus and I decided to become parents. And so, I thought I’d ask some of my favourite Babble Voices writers if they would share with me what gifts they’ve received since they became mothers: not the tangible ones that they get every year around this time, but the skills they’ve picked up, the lessons they’ve learned, and the aspects of their characters they discover about themselves that they’re especially grateful for. As expected, their comments were fascinating.
Here’s what they had to say.
Meagan Francis of The Happiest Mom 1 of 10
"Before having children, I had no sense of direction or discipline in my life. I had kids really young (first was born when I was barely 20) but it was the best thing that could have happened to me - motherhood gave me a sense of purpose and focus, motivated me to figure out what I wanted out of life, and gave me the discipline to work toward my dreams.
It's also made me much more confident in myself and the choices I've made. I used to make decisions based on what others might think. Now I make them based on what's best for myself and my family, and most of the time the imaginary "they" doesn't get a vote."
Jeannette Kaplun of Todobebe 2 of 10
"Aside from being extremely grateful to being called "Mami" (mommy in Spanish) by my children --which is a miracle in itself-- being a parent has taught me to be more organized. When you have so many responsibilities in a day, combined with your children´s needs, it´s crucial to organize your day and your tasks to stay on top of things. Some will inevitably escape your mind, but I can honestly say I am a better planner and organizer now. This not only helps me be a better mom, but also a better professional in the workplace.
I am also grateful because now I realize that you do have the ability to love your children in different ways. My son is very different from my daughter and I love them both unconditionally. It´s like your heart expands even more with each child that comes into your life. But the best part is learning how to show your love to each individual child, because some need more words, others need more kisses."
Asha Dornfest of Parenthacks 3 of 10
"A greater appreciation for difference. Greater compassion for those who struggle to find a place to call home. A clearer view of my weaknesses. The ability to play and be silly, and to know that's as important as being serious and 'responsible.'"
Joanne Bamberger of PunditMom 4 of 10
"I'm grateful for the world perspective parenthood has given me. As a mother, I've learned not only to be aware of the needs of my own child, but also the needs of others and I've tried to use that awareness to share what we have as a family."
Tsh Oxenreider of Simple Mom 5 of 10
"Parenthood has rekindled my ability to play. I became such a grown-up without my noticing, that having children has reminded me that mud and egg crates can make great cupcakes, and that sometimes it's better to pretend we're a pack of lions instead of a family of humans."
Kelly Wickham of Mocha Momma 6 of 10
"Parenthood has given me the gift of forgiveness, both in handing it out and accepting it back. There's no perfect way to parent nor should that be an aspiration. In fact, I'm too busy figuring this out along the way to try to come up reasons to do it perfectly. There's no shame in making mistakes as a mom and then telling your children, "I didn't do that very well. But I know better now and when I know better, I do better." When I've asked my children for forgiveness they learn to do the same and they learn that we all make mistakes and you know what? That's perfection enough for me."
Eden Kennedy of Fussy 7 of 10
"The ability to be interrupted at any time, by anyone, without snapping. I didn't want this gift, but now that I have it I use it every day. Who knew?"
Sarah Braesh of Sarah & the Goon Squad 8 of 10
"When I was 25 weeks pregnant with twins I lost the ability to bend at the waist. Necessity forced me to learn to pick things up with my feet. I can now bend at the waist just fine but I have retained my awesome primate skills and I still use my feet as tools to pick things up and open and close low drawers. "
Erin Loechner of Design for Mankind 9 of 10
"Although I still haven't "met" my child (I'm just now 29 weeks pregnant!), she's already taught me so much: patience and flexibility are the key to life, small problems are just that - small problems, and Skittles are magical after 9pm."
Ellen Seidman of Love That Max 10 of 10
"I was a relatively optimistic person before I had kids but then again, nothing tragic had ever tested me. Then my son, Max, came along. He had a stroke at birth that resulted in brain damage and shredded my spirit. Dr. Doom and Dr. Gloom at the hospital (the nicknames my husband, Dave, and I gave them) told us all the bad things he was at risk for; they didn't leave us with any hope. Then I sat down at the computer and started researching things to help him. The more I read, the clearer it became that doctors definitely did not know everything about the brain's capacity to regenerate. Eventually, we found Max an encouraging doctor. Optimism returned slowly, a more guarded kind. But then there was Max, a sunny, happy kid who loves to laugh and who charms everyone. This is the child who has given me optimism on steroids. My boy has his challenges but he's doing amazingly well—and I only have high hopes for his future. My hopes are that my son will continue to make progress—as he has; continue to amaze us all—as he has; and continue to show me that no matter what challenges life throws your way, you can beat the odds. Take that, Dr. Doom and Dr. Gloom."
Happy Mother’s Day, friends. Here’s to all the amazing gifts life has to give.
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