Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Mom Mug

Today is Mother's Day. It's the day for cards with the word "MOM" written out of curly noodles glued to construction paper, of inedible breakfasts in bed, and twelve blissful hours of reprieve from all our motherly duties. But what does this day really mean? Is it an opportunity to use the "It's Mother's Day" get out of all things chore-related card? I use that with abandon, much the way I use the Santa card at Christmas to keep Princess 2 in check when she's creeping up on the naughty list. Yes, I'm evil. And no, I haven't copyrighted that one yet, so feel free to use and adopt as your own.

Well, call me a late bloomer, or call me less motherly than the average bear, but it took me about nine years to really, REALLY understand what being a mom was all about. Funny enough, it didn't happen on Mother's Day. Grab your pillows, boys and girls. This mom is going to take you on a journey back in time. Hold on. This one may get bumpy.

It all started in 1999, when Princess was born. I was young (don't say a word), thin (I'm warning you), and a brand new mom. Seeing my bundle of joy being passed over to me just after giving birth didn't elicit some euphoric response of intense motherhood. I felt lost, unsure, and pretty much felt like running for the hills. What was I supposed to do with this pink-faced set of eyes staring up at me as if she knew me? I was clueless (I swear if you take a crack at that one...), and I felt no real instant bond with her. It wasn't until about a week later that I had that overwhelming sense of love, so great that it welled up great big crocodile tears at 2 am during one of her nightly feedings. And from then on, my gut reaction to protect her was always spot on. That ferocious mama bear syndrome was roaring in, loud and clear. Surprisingly, the ability to see the love she had for me was not always as honed.

Princess and I have been on our own for quite some time now, and we have had our share of adventures. We've learned to navigate our own new trials and tribulations along the way. Me, learning how to secretly date around a twelve year old who is known as the "Nosey Italian Grandmother". Her, learning how to trust her gut, stand up for herself, and keep herself out of useless drama. We've tested each other's patience over the past few months, and this has caused a strain on our relationship. So this morning as I pulled down a mug from the cupboard, I had to pull down my MOM mug.

Your MOM mug, you ask? Yes, my MOM mug. Princess gave me this coffee mug for Christmas when she was nine. Her school had a Christmas bazaar where students could shop for low-cost items for their family members on their own at school and give these gifts as Christmas presents. Princess purchased the MOM mug for me, not only because I love to drink coffee, but because it represented her love for me. Anyone else might have put on their best happy parent face at their Christmas gift, knowing it came from their child's heart, and responding that they love it so much, even though it's something they'll never use. But this gift brought tears to my eyes. And I got it - I'm a mom. I'm a mom. I'm finally part of that club. And I'm not just auditing, I'm a full-fledged member.

I never really understood what being called Mom meant. Sure, I'd been called that name, and a number of any one of its variations, over the course of her short life. And yes, there were times where it drove me absolutely nutter butter batty. Princess had the whole "Stevie" routine down way before Family Guy was ever around. Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mommy, mom, mom, mom, mom, ma, ma, ma, ma, ma, ma, mommy, mommy, MOM! Mamma Bestie's hubby used to impersonate her pretty well. Good thing they have one of their own now so I can return that little nugget of a favor. But back to the mug and why it turned me into a mushy, gushy, puddle of goo. (I said goo, not poo. You had to read that one over a second time, didn't you?) This mug not only represented who I was, but how Princess perceived me.

We moms sometimes forget that it isn't only what we do for our children, but how they perceive what we do. They keep track of those out of the ordinary special things we do, like sitting in a rocking chair by the front window during a summer thunderstorm, rocking, listening to the thunder, and not talking. They remember crazy times with pipe cleaners and sugar cookies. They remember tickle fights and movie nights under a makeshift tent made out of blankets. Our children perceive us as the great imaginators, the ones who can hug and kiss away a boo boo, the ones who cheer them on when they've done well, the ones who make them giggle. We are their biggest fans. We are their heroes. We are Mom. And today represents not only a deserving day off, but a celebration of who we are perceived to be.

Bringing down that MOM mug this morning only brought back a flood of memories, both good and bad, of the times I've had with my daughter. It also brought memories back of all the times I've had with my own mom. She has taught me how to love, how to listen, how to be a friend and a mother all at the same time, and how to be firm but judicious when I messed up. No mom is perfect, but to me and my perception, she is.

So here's to all the moms out there. May your mom mug be filled with all the love and get out of chores free cards that time could buy. Happy Mother's Day!

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