Full disclosure, this started out as a Mother's Day post and mothering got in the way of me finishing it on time. However, in hindsight I am glad that I didn't just make it about Mother's Day and motherhood because recently I have been reflecting on the bigger picture - parenthood, and how grateful I am for the parents in my life. I'm not just talking about my parents, but my husband, my "parent friends", my kid's teachers, and so on. I honestly could not be the mother I am without them.
I love being a parent, and I think I'm a pretty damn good one. Not a second of my life passes without a reminder that I am lucky enough to be one. Sometimes it's a sweet hug around the knees, sometimes it's when I'm cleaning up crayons at 9pm, sometimes it's when I find a seashell in my pocket that I was asked to "keep safe," sometimes it's when I see my sagging belly skin and stretch marks in the mirror, sometimes it's when I see the carseats in my rearview mirror, sometimes it's when I'm just too tired to move. Even when I am not directly focused on them, I am working for them, making myself better for them, dreaming and setting goals with them in mind. It's a beautiful thing to have such a strong purpose in life, and while I put so much of myself into parenting I could not ever do it alone.
Full disclosure: part two, I have time to work on house projects, work full-time, and work on this blog because I have the hardest working life partner imaginable. Bob is often up and out of bed before his alarm clock every morning. He's showered, dressed, and working on meals for the day before I am even out of bed most of the time. He is so patient with our girls, acts as a short-order cook every morning for breakfast, and does his very best with their ponytails. Even though he cooks hundreds of meals per week as a chef, he still finds joy in cooking for us on his night's off from the restaurant. The laundry is only done and the beds are only made because he does them. The list goes on, and on, and on with all that he does for us, but he is best at just loving us. I am getting misty-eyed just thinking about the way he looks at his little girls. I am blessed that he is the kind of parent he is, so I can be the kind of parent I am.
My parents: Growing up I was often called a daddy's girl because I gravitated toward his interests and hobbies. He was always tinkering in the garage, building something at my mother's request, crafting something in the basement, working on the gardens - he was, and still is non-stop. I see that side of him in myself all the time now, and I am so thankful for everything that I learned just by watching him. I think about that all the time when I am working on house projects - so often I want to work on them when the kids are napping or at school, but then I remember how important it is to show them skills. Whether or not they take interest in them (or if it makes the project take longer), its so important to show them what their parents can teach them. To this day, my dad is the first person I call when I can't figure something out, and if he does't know the answer himself he will text me a youtube tutorial within an hour or less. I love my dad, and I love that all of the skills he taught me made me who I am today.
I'm not going to sugar-coat it- my mom and I did not have a very good relationship until I became a mother myself. We just constantly butted heads and we both have very strong opinions. I can't tell you exactly what happened, but both her and I changed for the better and our relationship today is the best it has ever been. I often think about the tough times we had, especially when dealing with an occasional rough issue with my older daughter. I think about how she would have handled a similar situation and how I would have wanted her to handle it. I am learning from her mistakes, and she appreciates that - she appreciates that the parenting she gave me (both good and bad) has turned me into a better parent. After all, we should want better for our children, right? We should want them to learn from our mistakes in parenting and in life - I do anyway...
I think that the things that make my mom the happiest in her life right now are that her children are really good parents and her grandchildren. She is a wonderful grandmother, and I am so happy that she is able to enjoy this phase of her life. My kids love her - a lot, and I love how present she and my Dad are in their lives.
On a lighter note, my mom has truly inspired my love for interior decorating. I remember the huge stack of Country Living Magazines she kept next to her desk, the constant running of HGTV, the spirt of the moment furniture rearranging at the most random hours of the day, almost daily deliveries of home decor catalogs, antique store detours, and endless DIY projects. She was, and still is passionate about home decorating and she knows exactly what she likes. I can be indecisive with my decorating decisions, and when I ask for my mom's thoughts, she already knows what her answer is. I admire that so much.
In addition to my parents and my inlaws I truly value the "parent-friends" in my life - they keep me sane. I was the first of my closest friends to have a baby, and I remember how hard it was to get through those first few years without a friend who could relate to the impact a baby has on your mind, body, marriage - life! I remember being desperate to make a mom-friend at day care - it was like dating all over again. I remember writing hand-written invitations for a playdate, rewriting those invitations until my handwriting looked good, and being so nervous as I dropped them off in the cubbies and as I waited for text responses. Desperate! I also remember taking a day off of work to clean my house prior to the play date - a day that also included touching up the paint on the baseboards through-out the house because "those moms were totally going to judge me for less than perfect baseboards." Right?
After a season of mom-dating, I finally found my mom-friend. Our girls were in the same day care class, they got along well, we were close in age, both Cancers, both worked full-time, loved Fixer Upper, and clothes and cosmetics... a match made in over-priced day care heaven. That mom, Fallon, is still my closest mom-friend - so much now that she's actually my friend 4 years later. She gets me, I get her... thank the lord! If you are a new parent, and you're feeling like I was feeling, I highly suggest that you bite the bullet and write that handwritten playdate invitation because you will need that parent-friend in more ways than I can ever explain.
When my closest friends from college started having kids I was giddy with excitement! Finally! I started to daydream about family picnics and vacationing together, and now my dreams have come true! We don't get to see each other a whole lot- with 6 kids between the 3 of us it's hard, but when we do it's the best time ever. I am so thankful for Mo and Katie, our on-going group text of mom jokes, q&a, and the occasional spouse rant, and the no-judgement mom-bond we have. I love how much our friendship has evolved in the 12+ years we've known each other.
We have all heard the "it takes a village" saying, and I can attest that it is 100% accurate. Thank goodness though...parenthood would be half as rewarding without that village - the village filled with wisdom, learns, laughs, jokes, acceptance, support, shoulders to cry on, and friends to drink wine with.
Happy belated Mother's Day to all of the mamas and Happy Father's day, dads! Take today to remember how lucky you are to be a parent and to remember how all of the parents in your life helped shape you into the parent you are.