Lately, I've been thinking about the gross commercialization that Mother's Day has come to represent in American society. When Anna Jarvis founded Mother's Day 100 years ago, she hoped that mothers would receive a day of rest and letters from their children. But on this Sunday, my e-mail in-box is filled with inducements to honor Mom (by purchasing a gift, of course). When I'm at the mall, everywhere I turn there are reminders to "Remember mom." My Newsweek magazine featured a guide to (expensive!) Mother's Day gifts and the admonition that Mom wants a gift; she doesn't just want a card.
Now I'm no opponent of materialism (and I have the flip flop collection to prove it). I like receiving a gift as much as the next person. But I didn't become a Mama for the additional holiday. And I imagine that all these inducements to "remember Mom" must be difficult for those whose mothers are gone. All of this got me thinking less about Mother's Day as a gift-getting opportunity and more about the gifts of motherhood.
My first Mother's Day was special because I had wanted to be a mama for so long and my life felt perfect on that day. JT was 3 months old and he laughed for the first time. The sound of your child's genuine laughter is a sound that you can't hear often enough. I will forever remember the sheer joy of that moment. And that baby's chuckle heralded more mama joys to follow: the day JT first said my name, the sound of his voice saying he loved me, the development of his sense of humor. To me, those are the true gifts of motherhood.
They can't be bought in a store or manufactured by a commercial enterprise. They just happen, often unpredictably. Always welcomed.
And the most magical part of being a mother is that those moments can happen all of the time. The last few weeks have reminded me again of this lesson. JT and I have made a transition so that at bedtime, after I read a chapter to him, I leave his room and he reads to himself for 20 minutes. That task complete, he turns off his light and then calls downstairs to me. The script is the same every night: "I'm going to bed now. I love you Mama," he calls to me.
I love this new routine and appreciate it all the more because, like every stage in my son's life, it's likely to be fleeting. Though single motherhood is sometimes overwhelming and occasionally painfully lonely, that daily "I love you" is always a moment of true joy. And that is the real gift of motherhood.
Thanks to my friend sb for taking a picture of the boy and me.