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A Mom's Take on Mother's Day

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Even though I'm aware that it is a greeting card-inspired holiday, Mother's Day has become the 24 hours in which I can't help but take stock of how I am doing as a mother. This is, of course, shaky ground.

As employees of a company, there would be performance reviews. As the boss of any venture, there would be profit and loss reports. For teachers, there are objectives and for students, grades. Coaches can be measured by wins and losses and statistics tell the story of how well an athlete plays. But for the job of mothering, where is the feedback?

I know that it doesn't make sense to stand on ceremony in family life, that it's in the small moments we see glimmers of what we contribute to our children's lives. When our children do well at something they love or work out a tough issue by themselves, we can take some stock in that. When we receive a spontaneous hug, or a handmade painting or a mumbled I love you, that¹s a moment most mothers like to hang onto for a while. But these are fleeting, just tiny fragments of data collection for a mom.

So isn't it easier to wait until Mother's Day and see what one's family does to communicate how they grade you on the mothering scale?

And I don't mean gifts, though some tangible showing such as a card, note, hand-drawn picture, flower or breakfast in bed would sure be nice.

I'll never forget the one Mother's Day several years ago in which my oldest daughter never quite got around to saying the words "Happy Mother's Day, Mom" in each of the seven times we walked by one another in the house that day. No wish and no card. That was a crusher for me and it lasted several days. I felt silly about it. I couldn¹t  believe that it bothered me. About a week later, she presented me with a card and an apology, and we talked about how the day, much like a birthday, is filled with anticipation.

I am aware that for one's children to acknowledge the hard work of their mothers is asking a lot. We are asking them to provide us with concrete evidence that they get how hard we work for them, even though we know that what we are doing for them is intangible. And if it¹s intangible, how can we expect them to discern it?

We are bosses, teachers and coaches of our children. We are also medical managers and spiritual guidance counselors. These roles aren't the kind that immediately prompt a child to want to sit down and write a letter of thanks. They just don¹t know it yet.

Our children may never give us the Mother's Day we might fantasize about (whatever that may be.) But I like the idea that there really isn¹t anything that our children can give us - or do - to make us even for having been their mothers. In that, WE are the gift.

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