Happy Mother’s Day!
If you’re truly lucky, this Sunday will be a day when you’re served breakfast in bed (and get crumbs all over the sheets), or handed a bouquet of flowers that’s been clutched for too long in sticky small paws, or given a homemade card that will make you cry.
But even if this Mother’s Day doesn’t measure up to what you see in the movies, having children has already given you, and all mothers, so many other gifts. There are things you don’t appreciate properly until having kids scours raw places in your heart; things you forget to appreciate as an adult with bills and worries and responsibilities. But when your kids come along, you learn all over again.
Here are 11 things you appreciate more after having kids.
1. Your own mother
It’s only after having a child of your own that you understand how much your own mom loved you. When you hold your baby for the first time and you feel absolutely knocked over by the love you feel, that’s the first time you realize that’s how she felt, too.
Suddenly you understand so much — things she did in your life that were inexplicable now make sense. And you feel a crushing guilt for everything horrible you ever did to her. If you call her to apologize regularly for past misdeeds, you’re not alone. And if you’re lucky enough to have the experience, watching her be a beautiful grandmother to your kids will only make you love her more.
2. All the mothers in the world
When you hold your squirming baby and look at that beautiful face, you feel connected to all the mothers throughout history, reaching back through time. All the moms in painted Renaissance portraits, the moms in the grocery store you see every day, women you never thought you had anything in common with, they all did the things you’re doing and felt the way you feel. You share their problems, and you’re connected to them, in a way you never were before.
You thought you knew what tired was before having a child. You didn’t. No matter how many nights you spent awake doing this or that before, there is nothing like being kept awake by a baby. It’s all-enveloping, it ruins your life, and new parents quickly understand why sleep deprivation is a torture method.
When the baby sleeps and you get some sleep too, whether you have one of those magic sleeps-through-the-night newborns or not, you feel reborn. Food has taste again. Life is beautiful. Never again will you regard a good night’s sleep in quite the same way.
Children love flowers. All flowers, even humble weeds. You may have never thought you’d have a bouquet of ragweed and Morning Glories on your dinner table, but you will. And you’ll treasure every bedraggled flower your children bring you.
It’s only after having children that you realize how you wasted quiet moments before. When no one was calling “Mama? Mama?” or fighting or screaming or crying, what was it like then? Could you think a thought? Hear a song?
When you grow out of Santa and the Easter Bunny, holidays start to become days when you’re tasked with making a dish and eating a vaguely irritating meal with your in-laws. But with children around, holidays are delicious.
They want to make red-white-and-blue pancakes for Fourth of July and big red hearts for Valentine’s. They plan their green outfits for St. Patrick’s Day with military precision, and make clumsy hand-turkey place cards for Thanksgiving dinner. Christmas is an orgy of cookie-baking, and decorating, and excited talk about reindeer and presents.
You never had so much fun.
7. Going to the movies
Was it really a thing you used to do on a whim? By the time you have kids, going to the movies requires days of pre-planning and costs the equivalent of a fancy dinner once you figure in the babysitting surcharge. Nobody does that on a whim, and it makes you pick out the movies you go to very carefully.
Adults see snow coming down and think about soggy shoes and having to clear the driveway. But your kids jump around screaming when the snow falls, watching excitedly out the window as everything ugly is covered in puffy marshmallow. It’s hard not to get caught up in the moment. Days of sledding, snowball fights, and proudly building a snowman aren’t bad either.
The first time you watch your child examining a ladybug or gazing wide-eyed as a fly works on some food, you have a new warm feeling for the same bugs you might have once swatted away. You may even find yourself examining them as closely as your child, finding new things to marvel at.
If the internet ruined your relationship with books, as a mom you pick up the habit again. Snuggling close to your little one to read a story — maybe one that you remember your own parents reading to you — is pure magic, and something you look forward to at the end of every day.
Hearing a child singing to themselves in the next room, so into whatever they’re doing that they barely know they’re singing at all, is a guaranteed mom heart-melter. When they’re small, singing to children can pass the time, make them laugh, calm them down — and when you’re singing lullabies to your children all close and warm, you close your eyes and know that no one ever has been as happy as you are at this moment.
We hope this Sunday gives you plenty to appreciate. Happy Mother’s Day.