Thursday, May 15, 2014

Feeling Loved All Year Long - The Best Mother's Day Gift

Do you remember your very first Mother's Day? I sure do! I'll never forget feeling as though I had become a member of a club, a part of a grand group of people who were being celebrated for an entire day, a day filled with honor and recognition. Special doesn't even begin to describe how I felt!  For the past 13 years, Steve and the boys have showered me with cards and little gifts to show their appreciation for me, and I genuinely look forward to their sweet gestures with each approaching Mother's Day.
{The photographer snapped 9 posed pics, but true to form, we could not manage one with all eyes open!  Oh, well, they're cute with eyes closed, anyway, aren't they??}

Over the past few years, however, my personal perspective on Mother's Day has shifted significantly.  It is no longer a celebration that is about me, but rather one that is an opportunity for me to examine more deeply the gifts and graces of being called into the vocation of motherhood, and through that examination to be ever more grateful to God for the gift of my children.

As I was visiting with Steve's mom about our plans for Mother's Day, I simply told her that we had no plans at all.  We had been so busy working on the garage sale, school projects, cleaning up the yard and closets and carpets in preparation for baby, the topic of Mother's Day never entered into our conversations.  

"You know," I said, "If we don't do anything at all, I really am okay with that, because, the truth is, I feel loved all year long."

Really, that feeling loved statement isn't rooted at all in what the boys do for me or what they give to me in the way of material goods, it's simply a personal awareness that I have of their daily presence in my life.  

When I slow down during the day and notice the boy who:
- enthusiastically calls my name because he can't wait to show me what he's made
- climbs on my lap because it's the best place in the world to perch, even if only for a moment
- fills his cheeks with a warm bite of baking, because he's been waiting all afternoon to be nourished
- hugs me goodnight, every single night, because he thinks of me before heading to bed
- wants to sit on my hip while I cruise around the kitchen, because watching me cook is better than playing with his toys
- rescues me, pregnant round, struggling to wipe up messes from the floor by gently taking taking the cloth from my hand
- changes a diaper, washes the muddy feet of a younger brother, or reads quietly so that I can rest, I FEEL LOVED.

It's up to me to see our children loving me through who they are every day, to feel God loving me as well in the the ordinary days of being a mom  It's up to me to see the extraordinary in it all, to savor it and to let it be the very sustenance that fuels me through the more difficult times, the times when I'm tempted to believe that life is a little too hard, the times when I feel outnumbered in a household full of boys, when I long to have a little girl with whom I can relate to, enjoy girlie projects and adventures with, or when I wonder in my bouts of loneliness why in the world God chose me to be the mother of boys.

Last Saturday, after packing up the remnants from the garage sale, Steve and the boys came over to help load up the donations. When we finally came home, I was really tired, but had mentally prepared myself for the reality that after a crazy week, I had left the house that morning in a state of utter disaster. While nothing sounded more delightful than a quiet nap, I knew it just wasn't possible and that it was time to answer the call to clean.

The moment I walked in the door, I knew instantly that something was different.  The stale smell of dirty dishes and sticky floors had disappeared.  The carpets were no longer covered with toys and games, with shoes carelessly scattered about, and the bits of laundry that failed to get folded, hanging all week long off of furniture here and there, had disappeared.  Everything, I mean ev-e-ry-thing was neat and tidy.  My eyes nearly popped out of my head with wonder!

For a split second, there was complete silence.  All eyes were on me, waiting anxiously to see if I would notice their gift - a Saturday morning spent, not golfing or watching cartoons but scrubbing down a house that needed so badly to be bathed. And, they did it for me, just for me! Oh, how they know my heart! I wish I had a picture of their sweet faces the very second they saw me burst into tears of joy.  Filled with sheer delight, I couldn't stop proclaiming over and over, "Thank you, oh, thank you, it's just so beautiful!!" Their smiles were HUGE!! Through their happy little eyes, I could see straight into their souls - they knew they had done something truly wonderful for me, and they were proud of themselves.

I have been working so hard over the past year on teaching the boys the value of the gift of generosity.  Of course, they are boys and because they are also children, they struggle to exercise the virtue of generosity with one another.  "That's not mine, so I'm not going to pick it up." or "I had it first, so it's mine." I hear those words all day long. Many of you moms know, as I do, that generosity is giving without counting the cost, and that daily call to give never ends when you're a mother. But, at the same time, there's a special joy that can be experienced in the practice of generosity, especially the sacrificial kind. It truly can be so deeply rewarding.  I want the boys to experience that joy, and I think they may have tasted it for themselves in shining up the house for me last weekend.

On Sunday,  I was ordered to put my feet up while the chefs prepared brunch.  It was just lovely! Wanting to keep everything a surprise, I was sent to my room, so as not to know exactly what was going on in the kitchen.  I got so tickled, though, at how each boy (including dad) took turns knocking on the door, needing to ask me a questions about how long to cook the bacon, or what kind of flour to use in the pancakes. 
Henry, who has recently learned how to make an egg in the microwave, thoughtfully prepared this scrumptious appetizer for me:
He was so proud of himself! He loves to circle the block on his bike each day, picking blooming weeds along the way to bring home just for me.  From his vast travels, he must have known exactly where to go to find the purple one in the picture!  Complete sweetness!! Those were the best eggs I'd ever eaten!
 "Mom, it's ready!!" they sang out over the clanging in the kitchen.  I came out to find each one of them standing around a table they had so proudly set, complete with linens, flowers and fresh coffee.
The cards on my plate were such a gift.  They know how much I love written notes.  I've saved every single sweet thing they've ever composed for me.  Steve must have taken the boys card shopping earlier in the week.  Each of their selections had glitter, ribbons or jewels on them, which was just so precious.
Because they are boys and are so very young, I don't expect them to write very much.  The little one-liners are just perfect.  But, this year, I was really touched by Ben's card.  His thoughtfulness meant the world to me! Inside the card read:
Happy Mother's Day, Mom!
Thank you for being the best mother in the world. 
Thank you for being gentle and sweet and helping me with homework, doing the laundry, and cooking those spectacular meals for us boys.
I hope you have a blessed Mother's Day!
Love, Ben

Do you have a special Mother's Day memory you would like to share??
I would love to hear it! 
Please feel free to write about in the comments!


  1. I LOVE THIS POST!!!!!! We think alike, Susan, truly. This sounds to me like a perfect Mother's Day. And as rough and tumble as they are, boys can be so very sweet!

    Would it be okay if I sent you a copy of my book, Finding Grace? The title character has five older brothers (gee, I wonder where the inspiration for that came from!). I realize you're probably too busy these days to read novels, but if you ever had a chance to read it, I'd love to know what you think!

    1. Laura, I would love to read Finding Grace! I am sure with all of the hours I'll be nursing this summer that I'll have time to read it!

    2. There's an "email me" button on my blog--if you send me your address, I'll get one in the mail. Thanks! :)

  2. i just found your blog, and I'm in love already. what sweet boys you have, they'll be GREAT husbands someday if they are already so thoughtful and delight in their momma.

  3. Oh, my goodness - when you came in from the garage sale to that spotless house?! I cried, too!!!
    And that sweet brunch (+ appetizer!!) - so sweet!
    I spent Mother's Day recovering from my race - the boys were sweet and took care of cleaning the venue for the event that night!!

    1. I hope your race went well, Kim! I am so eager to get back to running. Right now I feel about as fast as a snail on crutches! Ugggh!!

  4. Aw Susan, this had me tearing up. For you and for me. Boys are so rambunctious and crazy sometimes, but my goodness, they do know how to love their mamas.
    My oldest was not an easy baby. He vomited non-stop all day and night long every single day of his first 8 months of life. I knew no one and spent much time crying. Three days before Mother's Day, my poor husband mentioned that he was invited to a play-off basketball game and wanted to go. It was on Mother's Day. He thought Mother's Day meant a day for the moms to spend with their kids alone. I had to not-quite-as-kindly-as-I-should-have remind him that I do that every single day! He didn't go to the game, and he never, ever made that mistake again. :) Oh, and that Mother's Day was the first that my baby did not vomit on me.
    My best Mother's Day memory is the one I shared for your mother's day link-up when my 9 year old got up at 4:00 to make my breakfast.

    1. Christine - I am always truly in awe of the moms who continue to be open to life after their first time experience as a mother is such a difficult one. Just so you know, my husband was pretty tuned out on my first mother's day too. He actually drove to the quick shop and bought me an Almond Joy for a gift. We were on a tight budget, but not that tight! I'm glad I can laugh about it now. Thanks for sharing your story with me! :)

  5. Pure joy ! Absolutely priceless ! Utter sweetness ! I love each and everyone of your posts, so inspiring and they never fail to bring things back into perspective; this particular post can only strum the tender chord in us mums (and the dad's who make their efforts too) Blessings from Spain :)

  6. I really don't cry easily, but this totally touched my heart and choked me up. What a treasure you have in your sons. I have one son (he's 2) and four older daughters, and I love reading your blog to see how amazingly wonderful boys are!

  7. What a great Mothers' Day picture! Thank you for sharing your story, Susan. This year my daughters bought me gifts, my husband took us out to eat after church so I didn't have to cook, and my son made me chocolate muffins. He had to come and ask me (while I was also waiting in the bedroom) where ingredients were. There was one ingredient that we did not have, I think it almost ruined his day. The cupcakes turned out delicious though. The frosting he tried to make, well, it ended up being one of the most delicious chocolate drinks I have ever had! He made due with what didn't work out.
    I look forward to your first post after delivery!

  8. I teared up reading this. So sweet! You are such a wonderful mother surrounded by such special little men. Happy belated Mother's Day!

  9. This post made ME cry!. :) What sweet boys and husband you have. And I absolutely agree that our gift is feeling loved all year long. My littles often (out of the blue) will tell me, "Mom, you're the best Mommy in the whole world." And they tell me that ... just because. and I love it. Really really loved reading this post. Mother's Day is hard for me (divorced parents, emotional abuse...just hard days, Mother's and Father's day...) but this post reminds me that no matter how broken my parents were as I was growing up, I still owe them my life and love, and they love me very much.

    1. Sometimes I feel like I get to the end of the day and feel like I've just been a drill sergeant the entire time, bossy and cranky. But, I'm always surprised at the way the boys still are able to overlook most of my faults and still show love and affection to me through their words and actions. Hearing "Mom, you're the best Mommy in the whole world!" is such a treasure!! :)

  10. I'm not sure if my last reply went through but I'm going to write it again if I can remember all I said. Wow what an amazing thing to come accross your blog! After just finding out that we are going to welcome our fifth boy into our family this March and going on Google to try and find a cool way to announce it I came across your photo of you and your boys! And then I clicked on the link under neath of it. God must have known this is just what I needed to see because wow it was! Reading this blog of your Mother's Day, after having a few emotional days of the reality of maybe never having that mother daughter relationship, this blog brought me back to the reality of how truly blessed I really am! Some days I feel like I am all alone in my house and don't know how to relate to anyone of these loud, dirty, wrestling,wild little boys of mine but then like tryouts have said after a day of me being moody, and grumpy at them they still love me and think that I am the best mommy ever! I truly am so blessed and I feel Honored that God has entrusted ME with raising men who will love and serve him and be the leaders some day of their own homes! This is such a huge job we have and one that can't be taken lightly! I want to thank you for sharing this and it was so amazing how God knows how I needed to hear this from another mommy that has a house full of such lovable boys! It's so cool to see how your boys respect you and adore you and how your husband is teaching them these important qualities that they will someday use on their own wives!


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