I always thought I knew what motherhood was... what it meant... how I would do it perfectly.
But the single thing that can most humble you and make you realize how little you actually knew about being a mother is having a child of your own.
I could not help thinking as we celebrated American mother's day this year, how year after year all cultures celebrate motherhood on a specific day. Flowers and home cooked meals, spa days and maybe even nights out, all to thank our mothers for what they have done and continue to do for us.
Now that I am a mother, though, I think that on mother's day what we really need to do is not just celebrate. We need to apologize.
We need to apologize to our mothers that we celebrate them only once a year.
Motherhood, after all, is not a choice you make once.
It is a choice you make every day.
A choice to put someone else's needs above yours.
A choice to love someone even at their worst.
A choice to make yourself more vulnerable than you ever imagined possible.
A choice to sacrifice, to hope, to understand, to be patient, and to encourage.
A choice to make your children need you a little less every day - no matter how much it hurts - so they can manage the world on their own one day.
I may know this now, but when I was younger, I would often fault my mother for many things I didn't understand. After all, it's easy to nitpick our mothers' faults when we don't know what goes on behind the scenes -- the dreams that were put on hold, the nice things that were given up so the children wouldn't go without, the constant worry, and the all-consuming love.
I feel lucky now that I am a mother not only because of the joy that having a child brings, but because of the newfound understanding I have of the woman I'm lucky to call my mama.
Mothers, it turns out, give us not only one life, but two. They give us our own life... but they also give us theirs.
When we give ourselves over to our children so completely, we don't do it once a year and we don't do it expecting a reward. We do it because motherhood itself is the most rewarding experience in our eyes.
This doesn't mean it's easy being a mother; but it's also not always easy being a child. I realize now, as I'm about to become a mother to another little girl, how we are all trying to do our best. As children, we are always trying to please our mothers, and as mothers we are trying to be perfect for our children.
At the end of the day though, it's not perfection that matters. It's love and forgiveness that define the mother-child relationship.
So maybe the best thing we can do on mothers days, and every day, is to forgive ourselves as children for oftentimes making life unbearable for our mothers, but also to forgive ourselves as mothers for not always being as perfect as we want to our children.
More importantly, to all the amazing mothers in our lives, I hope that our newfound understanding from becoming mothers ourselves will make us better daughters who celebrate you not only once a year, but every day of your lives as well.