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I have gained 572 pounds and lost 500 pounds. Granted, it took 29 years of marriage and giving birth to nine children. For 20 years I referred to myself as the incredible expanding woman; with at least three dress sizes hanging in my closet at any given time.
I have nursed a total of 17 years, changed at least 29,952 diapers (give or take a couple of hundred), and rocked over 5,000 miles of tearful terrain. I just started sleeping through the night five years ago.
For years Mother’s Day was the most depressing day of the year for me, especially when I had six young children at my feet. Every year my children would ask what I wanted for Mothers Day, and every year I would say the same thing, “To wake up to a clean house, and not have to cook.”
They would laugh, and say, “Mom, you always say that. What do you really want?”
But alas, I wake up to a stack of new refrigerator art, and hungry children.
The turning point came when I realized that the reason I had been so depressed was that somewhere in the back of my mind, I wanted the day off from being Mom. I didn’t want to wipe anyone’s anything. I wanted to be taken care of. I wanted someone else to do my housework and meet all the demands that at the time were so draining, both physically and emotionally.
Once I realized my expectations were, well, not only unobtainable, but perhaps a bit silly. I chuckled to myself and made up my mind to change my expectations. That year I bought myself a role of film and spent the entire day taking pictures of my children in the front yard.
I shucked the housework, and just embraced toddler’s smiles, and childish antics. I let them pose for my camera and tumble on the lawn. I laid down in the grass and let the baby crawl all over me, giving my chin toothless wet kisses. Time a busy mother rarely takes.
As the children got older, I realized that giving gifts was becoming important to them. They wanted to be able to give me something that I would treasure, but the unemployment rate for the under ten crowd is very high in this part of the country, so I came up with a plan.
Several days before Mother’s Day I made a cleaning chart. With each chore, I listed an amount that I would pay for that particular job. I paid well to have floors mopped and bathrooms scrubbed. They worked eagerly, and they were paid in one-dollar bills. (It seems like so much more money, and they can do better spending while working with ones.)
The day before Mother’s Day, all of the children were taken to one my favorite stores. Then under the watchful eye of our oldest daughter they would pick out gifts.
I would wake up on Mother’s Day with a clean house, and they would wake up with huge grins in anticipation of giving their mommy something special.
As an older mother, and only five children still at home, its no exercise of will to relax and enjoy my children on Mother’s Day. The demands of babies and toddlers have given way to teenagers. Not wanting to cook has changed to wanting a big cook out in hopes of enticing the adult children to come home for an evening.
Now I love Mother’s Day, because rather than being focused on escaping motherhood, it’s the day I love to set aside to enjoy the children God has blessed me with.
Time has a way of quietly slipping through your fingers. Your children will only be small for such a short time. If that seems impossible, look how fast you grew up.
If I could give every mother of young children a gift for Mothers Day it would be this, to take this one day, to look deep into the face of your child, and let your heart be filled with thankfulness and wonder at a gift so perfect only God can give.
Happy Mother’s Day!