Since starting my parenting life, it has never really been something I’ve looked forward to.
My kids attempt various sweet gestures that result in runny eggs and cold-in-the-middle waffles because they know I love breakfast as much as I hate waiting with all of creation in the lobby of Cracker Barrel Sunday morning for a stack of my favorite pancakes.
They give me a gift that I probably picked out for myself at some point, and then spend the rest of the day trying and failing to be around me without fighting among themselves.
Valiant effort, Dudes, but move along.
Truth: The best thing I get on Mother’s Day is the 30 minutes or so of uninterrupted bathroom time before the guilt of wishing for a solid hour with no one bothering my face so I can nap sets in. And by nap I mean pretend to nap while stuffing Reese’s Cups in my mouth and finishing off the last chapters of whatever smutty-ish book I’m reading.
Don’t get me wrong—I love spending time with my kids and I appreciate their efforts to make me feel special—I just also don’t have very high expectations for Mother’s Day specifically because I don’t require a special day with contrived behavior and forced gifts of excessive together time. I don’t feel wronged if things go as they do on every other Sunday of the year, because, in truth, I know what I signed up for and that’s just parenting.
My favorite part of Mother’s Day has truly always been celebrating my own mother.
I love finding a special gift for her—something I know she’s been wanting, or something I discovered and know she will love.
She has always done so very much for me and my family and celebrating her is something I’ve always looked forward to.
We didn’t spend many Mother’s Days together—I usually was doing the pretend-to-like-breakfast-in-bed-thing with my boys—but I would always make time to see her the week before or immediately after.
This year I will visit her on Mother’s Day when I when I go to the cemetery and leave some nondescript grocery store flower arrangement on her barely grassed over gravesite.
And, as such, it is lined up to the worst Mother’s Day on record as far as I am concerned. Forgive me when I say that I am looking forward to it with nothing less than pure dread.
I realize I’m not truly alone in this form of sadness—I’ve joined a couple of very large, continuously active motherless daughters groups on Facebook that remind me daily of this fact—but I can say that I feel utterly alone on my first Mother’s Day being a child without a mother in this world any longer.
As it’s hard for women who want to be mothers to watch others celebrate their joy on this day, I too have found considerable sadness watching the holiday preparations take shape. I’ve even caught myself wishing the celebration a fiery death, while also wondering what kind of monster I might be for begrudging others joy in my time of pain.
It’s so un-Mimi-like of me.
She was so many things that I hope to be—strong, kind, selfless, humble, smart, courageous—but most of all she was an amazing mother.
And she was everyone’s Mimi.
So many people at her funeral spoke about the loving support they will miss from her and, while I knew she was an awesome person for me and my boys, I didn’t quite realize how far her love reached.
After she passed, I discovered how many people my mom touched via Facebook. She couldn’t sit on the phone or fly across the country checking in on the countless people she loved, but she did take time to send them daily Facebook messages to support them in their new businesses, hear about their young children, encourage them to pursue a dream.
People constantly complain about how they abhor social media, but she’s proof that it’s not the media that’s the problem, it’s the people using it.
I still get messages weekly from people telling me how much they miss hearing from her because she always made time to reach out to them in that way. She was a woman people knew they could go to for love, guidance, kindness, and judgement-free support. She’d share funny videos, positive messages, or just engage in back and forth conversation with so many people who really just needed to know someone cared.
For me, she was my very own parenting guru. From helping me fix my newborn’s broken sleep schedule to pitching in to help my teenager learn to drive, she was always there to give quiet advice on the parenting front. And, while I still question some of her early childhood parenting wisdom that was so clearly tainted by 80s medical breakthroughs (we’d still be fighting over whether your healthy newborn needs water), her advice was non-pushy, priceless, and greatly appreciated.
The best way I can honor her this Mother’s Day is to share some of the beautiful things she taught me about motherhood.
The 15 Best Parenting Tips My Mom Taught Me Before She Died
Kids have very low expectations.
Which means, it’s not really that hard to knock it out of the park. They don’t expect lots of money or gifts or indulgences of any kind. They just expect love and care.
So don’t sweat the dumb stuff.
You have to actually try to ruin them, it won’t happen just because you made them clean their rooms before going to the mall. In fact, this may have the exact opposite effect.
You have to say the same thing over and over and over again, and that’s totally normal.
They’re not just not listening, they’re not just bad, they’re really just kids.
You can’t expect them to make the best choice every time.
What you can expect is for them to make the choice that makes the most sense to someone who has adults they trust in charge of making real choices for them. You can teach them to get there by expecting them to mess up and being there to support and guide them when they do.
Note: Support and guide are not synonymous with “bail them out”.
They don’t have to like anything you like or be anything like you.
They can just be who they are and you can figure out how to love them for it.
Don’t make promises you don’t intend to keep.
Or threats you can’t follow through on.
Unconditional love doesn’t mean liking everything they do.
It just means you love them anyway.
When they fail, when they make you question who you are as a parent, when they’re embarrassing and rude and throwing an epic tantrum in the aisle at Giant you’re still there, loving them. You can snatch them up and drag their little behinds right to the car, but you do with love in your heart and fire in your eyes as you stare at them in the rear view mirror all the way home.
Parent like a future friend.
You want your relationship to survive their childhood. Make choices as a parent that they can respect and love you for as adults so you have a relationship that can grow into a friendship.
My mom parented me with respect. She never talked down to me, she never disregarded my feelings or opinions, and she always empowered me to speak my mind. She expected me to do so respectfully, of course, but she allowed me to develop and express my own thoughts, even if they didn’t align with hers.
Talk to them like people, not like puppies.
Don’t hold grudges against your kids.
No matter how bad they act, no matter what they say, you can’t take it personal and let it determine your actions when it comes to parenting them.
It’s okay to be “just” a mom.
Because it’s plenty. There’s no shame in writing “homemaker” on your tax return for your occupation.
But, if you want to be more, you can slay that too.
And you don’t need to feel guilty about it either.
Teach your kids about honesty from the very beginning.
It will make the teen years slightly easier.
Remember, everyone makes mistakes.
So learn to own up and apologize.
They’ll forgive you as long as you do and sometimes even when you don’t.
Mimi died suddenly in March of 2019. You can read the first post about losing her here: 10 Things Losing My Mom Has Taught Me About Living My Best Life