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Love blooms

Mother's Day. I dread it. I feel agitated just thinking about it.

Why?

First of all, most Mother's Days I am nowhere near my momma. I hate that. And if I'm not near my momma, then I'm not near my grandmother. And I hate that. Being a Navy family, we are usually stationed far away from our families, which is hard over holidays.

Second, it is such a let down. The ads always say, "Let her know how much you appreciate her." And, 9 times out of 10, Mother's Day is spent like just about every other day except your family wants you to "relax" (meaning: clean up the mess tomorrow) and "take it easy" (meaning: listen to them all fight while you sit on the couch until you can't take it anymore so you get up and solve the problem).

Finally, the gifts. The gifts blow. Sometimes they don't, but most of the time they do. When you have multiple kids, it sucks when one kid gives a really good gift (beautiful painted canvas) and the others... not so much. (A pack of seeds?! A PACK. OF. SEEDS.)

You go to brunch and sit and wait with five kids as they all argue and writhe and complain about the clothes you wrestled them into while trying to do your hair. You and your spouse have whispered hissed arguments at the brunch table. When you eventually call it, one of you drags the screaming kids out front while the other pays the bill and you head home to start all the laundry... er. No. Because no one lets you do laundry today. You have to relax. So the laundry doesn't get done and it piles up and tomorrow, when Monday morning kicks off, you have a pile of laundry, a sink full of dishes, sticky floors, and you still have to get all the Monday things done. What a "relaxing day off."

What is it about being a mom that makes me such a killjoy?

For me, I'm thinking twelve steps ahead. If we have a late breakfast, the kids will be fussy. They will whine and be hungry. The baby will miss nap and she will be tired. If the toddler doesn't exercise, he won't nap this afternoon, which will make for a fussy evening. If we don't wash these dishes now, they will pile up because we have to do bedtime routine. There won't be time to do them with a fussy baby and a fussy toddler and getting the older three to bed... And then the day goes exactly as I pictured and I feel frustrated that the problems were a surprise to my spouse or that they weren't anticipated better and solved because, dammit, this was my day. And this whole mess was left for me to clean up tomorrow when I already have this and this and this and this to do.

It makes me feel like, is this how much I'm appreciated? Does anyone actually know what I do around here?

I want to be a fun mom. Like, the laid back mom who can get genuinely stoked over a macaroni necklace (can you put diamonds in a macaroni necklace?). I want to go with the flow and let the day take us where it may... but as the mom, when the dominoes start falling, I pretty much know where the day is going.

It makes me feel guilty that for Mother's Day, I pretty much want to be left alone. I don't want to deal with all of it. I want to go somewhere alone and relax. Actually relax. Not listen to the baby cry it out at naptime or have a toddler bust in and spill my tea or our older kids charge in tattling or have my spouse ask where this is or that is. I don't want to be involved. I do that every single day. I solve every single problem for those five little people. I want to leave home with gorgeous hair and have a relaxing day and come home to a clean house with clean children and have them all super excited to see me back home.

This year I've been thinking a lot about my feelings towards Mother's Day. How much I wanted to be a momma. About the pregnancies and babies we've lost. About my journey into motherhood, how it went so differently than I thought and hoped it would. It is hard. It feels like my story, my journey, shapes so much of how I feel about motherhood. I put a lot of thought into each day with our children and how I handle various situations and hardships and challenges with them. And my spouse has been there for me through all of it. Always by my side. Always carrying me through. Always pushing me on and encouraging me.

Motherhood is messy. I really felt I would handle it better or feel more in control. I always looked at my mom and how she was so glamorous and beautiful and confident and I thought I would be that type of mom. Instead, I second guess myself. I cry after punishing our children and I stress (and stress) when I know they are having a bad day. I don't know the right answers over neighbor kids on the street I don't want my kids playing with or how often is too much when throwing the bedtime routine out the window. I agonize over when to "say yes" and when I need to "be firm." I feel like I work all day for other people and I am so tired and yet I can feel my cheeks burn when people say, "Oh? You just stay home?" I don't know how to describe everything I do or feel I do and who the heck knows if the people I'm doing it for even appreciate all the things I do! But, for better or worse, I am their mom.

Being a mother for eight years and to five children has shown me the depths of my mother's love and everything she did for us. I don't think I appreciated how much laundry she did. Or how she went back to school with four kids. Or how she has this fabulous career and nurtured us along the way and showed us how it is possible to achieve your dreams, to do it all, and to do it beautifully, with a smile, even when it is hard. My mother has shown me the balance of work and family, yourself and others, and how to keep those you love close and to never take them for granted. The values she has given me are ones that I long to instill in my own children. All the things she did for us day in and day out... not for a small amount of time. For years and years as she stayed home and raised us and still accomplished her career goals. I can't say that I fully understand everything my mom has done for me and everything my mom put in to raising me, but with each passing year, I appreciate her more and more.

I think one of my biggest struggles with Mother's Day is that it is the one holiday that centers around one of the hardest aspects of my life-- motherhood. I put so much into parenting and this day comes along to "thank me" and I end up with a pack of seeds and tantrums.

This year I realized Mother's Day isn't just about myself and my parenting journey. My parenting journey wasn't made alone. My spouse has been there for me from the beginning. He holds me when I cry and he has literally carried me when I couldn't go on. Step by step, we got here together. My parenting journey was shaped from my experiences growing up, by my mother and by my grandmother. These women who were strong and present and constant in my life. They were never afraid to roll up their sleeves and do the dirty work, day in and day out. Even more so, Mother's Day is about our children, who love me. Red faced tantrums and all. They put work into those macaroni necklaces and seed packet cards. They hid those presents in their rooms for days and gave me tantalizing hints about my surprises. They excitedly took over the kitchen to make me breakfast in bed and their smiles were ear to ear as they spilled my latte on the carpet and dumped syrup on my sheets. They were showing me love in all the ways they know how-- by imitating things I do for them.

I decided that today I don't want to be a killjoy. I don't want to anticipate where the dominoes will fall. I don't want to stress about laundry or messes or even what work I will have to do tomorrow to make up for today. Who cares. I have lost babies. I have cried over ultrasounds where heartbeats are suddenly not found and longed for a positive pregnancy test after months of negative ones. I have held five newborn babies that came from my womb. Once, two at a time. I had twin newborns that were so beautiful. So beautiful. And after four precious boys that light up my world, we finally had a girl. Our last baby was our first daughter. And she is so special. I mean, she makes all of us smile. My oldest son... that kid is going to move mountains. And my husband. Gah. I would need to write a whole new post on my love for him. And here we are, ten plus years later with five beautiful children growing into five amazing people under our roof.

That seed packet is right, mommas. Love blooms because of you.

Happy Mother's Day to all my momma friends.

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