June 15

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! It was a beautiful day here; great for cooking out. Not having my dad around, I didn’t celebrate the holiday, but I did cook dinner on the grill. It’s rather interesting that grilling out seems to be a Father’s Day tradition, presumably with dads doing the grilling, while the Mother’s Day tradition is brunch at a restaurant. Hmmm.

Because I’m the curious sort, I looked up the history of Father’s Day. I found it intriguing that it didn’t become an official holiday until 1972, about 58 years after Mother’s Day was established. But like Mother’s Day, credit for getting Father’s Day to exist at all is given to Sonora Smart Dodd, in honor of her father who was a Civil War vet and single dad raising six children. So both holidays are in place because a child was proud of a parent and moved enough to want to honor him and her. Parents have great power of influence.

If you follow my blog, you know I lost my dad to cancer in April. I’ve said a lot about him in the weeks since. He definitely influenced my life a great deal, and I missed him and thought about him today. He was actually my step-father, but I always considered him my dad. I was very young when my parents divorced, and I grew up seeing my biological father only occasionally. Mostly during summer vacations, which made it difficult for me to form a strong attachment. However, I do still see him when I visit my sister who lives close to him. And recently he mentioned how he realizes he’s missed out on a lot of my life. It’s true, reciprocally as well. So on this Father’s Day, I’m thankful that he is still here and wanting a relationship with me. I hope we have time to get to know each other a little better.

May 11

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

Did you know that Mother’s Day was founded in 1914 after Ann Jarvis, a peace activist who helped care for soldiers on both sides of the civil war? Her daughter, Anna Jarvis, campaigned for a day in memory of her mother and her work because she said a mother is the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world. It’s such a simple statement. True in that a mother brings you into the world. But after childbirth, it’s a commitment to being a mother that makes the difference. And like anything with great dividends, it’s not an easy task. It’s also not something everyone can do. I was talking to a student the other day about Mother’s Day plans and she confided in me that her relationship with her mom was a strained one. Apparently, when my student was a young teenager, her mother decided she was tired of the role and walked away from her family. And while she had come to terms with it, the change in her mother was a difficult one for my student to understand. But she said that her dad remarried a woman who happily took on the role and she was thankful to have her as a stepmother.

It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the notion. However, I’ll admit to something. When I was young, having children was not a priority to me like it was to some of my sisters and friends. I wasn’t sure I really wanted to have kids. I was never that girl who loved to babysit and dreamed of getting married and having three kids and a dog and a house with a white picket fence. I always thought I’d start a career and travel and maybe have kids later in life. But life doesn’t work out as planned, and I fell in love and got married young and ended up pregnant just a few months after the wedding. And now I can’t imagine a life without my kids. Was is always easy? Oh, boy, no. Were there days I wanted a break? Many. In fact, I used to joke that Mother’s Day should really be a day without the kids. A nice, quiet day alone. That was when they were still crying a lot and constantly needing something. However, I like to think that motherhood becomes part of someone’s identity. I don’t know how I could now separate myself from it. 

Being a mom is the sweetest and sometimes most painful gift I’ve ever been given. Sweet because the bond and love I have for my children is almost indescribable. Painful because there are moments as a mother where the individual you are has to take a back seat to the mother your kids need. It’s not always easy to be selfless, especially when your kids don’t recognize the sacrifice, as kids usually don’t. Painful also because there are a lot of moments of letting go that happen over the years, if you’re doing it right. Eventually kids don’t need their mom to be central in their lives, and that can feel a lot like being pushed away. But I always remind myself that it is an evolution and eventually (hopefully) my kids will see me as I see my own mom. A woman who did more for me than anyone in the world.  Someone whose sacrifices I am eternally grateful for. Someone with whom I also have a wonderful friendship, for I can see her also a great person outside of her role as mother. I’m not only thankful today for my mom, I’m also thankful that I am a mom.