You could always pick my kid out in the Halloween parade lineup as the only child with a store bought costume. I'm also the mom who brought in Safeway brand cupcakes when it was my turn to provide snacks. Mother Teresa I'm not.
I likewise confess to apologizing to my daughter on more than one occasion for making a judgment call that turned out to be less than stellar. In addition, an occasional curse word would slip loudly from my lips in her presence.
I would then smile and tell her that she was my practice child, and I would be so much better with the next one. We both knew she would always be my one and only, so we both made allowances for my mistakes along the way. And there were plenty of them.
That being said, I never missed a play, an award ceremony, a field trip or a back-to-school night. It also warrants mentioning that I was the class party helper for 12 years running. Candy canes, pipe cleaners and glue guns progressed into Indian costumes, '50s dances, hero week, science projects, dioramas (man, I hated those things) and D.A.R.E. programs. We both happily survived pajama parties, teenage angst, dating drama and college calamities. I was up front and present for each and every one of them.
So, when Mother's Day rolls around, I figure I've got a bit of good karma coming my way. When you're a 59-year-old mother with a daughter that is fully grown, Mother's Day becomes mostly about memories.
Visions of silly string wars, sleep-overs, kissing boo-boos, reading books, singing her to sleep, birthday parties, board-games, roller skates, glitter artwork and Play-Doh projects. And then there were the outings. I don't think that going to a Disney movie can officially be called an outing, but when you see "Snow White" 8 times, I think you get to call it whatever you want.
One Mother's Day morning, as my 8-year-old daughter served me crunchy eggs and burned toast for breakfast, she asked me why there wasn't a "kid's day". I responded that every day was kid's day. She didn't buy it.
I guess it's hard to imagine that every day is your special day when you're being given curfews, nagged about homework, asked to clean up your room and told to feed the dog. But the cold hard truth is that when you are a child of loving parents, every day IS your day.
Nearly 20 years later, I've often shared with my daughter that I hoped that one day she would know the joy of having a little girl just like her. She winces at the thought. The kid is smarter than she lets on.
Motherhood is tough business. I believe that the reason labor pains are so agonizing, so gut wrenching, so bloody and endless is because its purpose is to toughen us up for the hard part. Labor is a piece of cake compared to the actual raising of a child.
I've always said that the easiest part of childrearing are the ages between birth and 2 days old. After that, you're out of the hospital and on your own... for the rest of your life.
Our life, for the years that we are raising our kids, revolve around them. It's just the way it is. But, as every empty nester knows, all things come to an end. All things except motherhood.
Our children may no longer live with us, or call with any dependable frequency, text daily or even visit often. It matters less than it should. Because moms forgive pretty much anything. No matter how old we are, if our kids are okay... we're okay. And if they're not, neither are we.
These days my daughter is every bit as adorable as she was 27 years ago, except that she is taller, sassier and has more teeth. I am shorter, less sassy, and have less teeth. I am not amused at the comparison.
If you ask me (and I know you didn't) being a mom is often a thankless job. It's never ending, unconditional and all encompassing. It's not optional and it's not always received with gratitude. It's still a mystery to me why it feels like the best damn job in the world.
The lovely little cherubs whose diapers we changed and running noses we wiped will at some point or another be rude, angry or disrespectful of the parent that brought them into this world.
That's okay, because there will come a time when they will learn about the sacrifices, worry, tears, hurt and the joy, pure rapture and complete love of it all. That day will begin when they tell you that you are about to become a grandparent. Proving once and for all that God does have a sense of humor.
And, just for the record, that crunchy egged, burned toast breakfast I had those many years ago; well, it was the best damn breakfast I've ever eaten.