I had a few tears this morning even before my first sip of coffee.
My oldest son – six years old and in grade one – gave me a Mother’s Day card he made at school.
Made of pink construction paper, the cover features a hand drawn heart with two smiling figures in the middle holding hands. They are “Mom” and “Lukas” according to the labels he penciled above them. Surrounding the heart, in large crayon-coloured bubble letters, he had written “I Love You Mom.”
Glued to the inside of the card is a sheet of paper titled “All About Mom” where he filled in the blanks with some fascinating tidbits of information about me:
My mom is 37 years old.
She likes to watch me play hockey.
The best thing she cooks is macaroni and cheese.
Her favourite food is macaroni and cheese.
Her favourite thing to do to relax is colour.
We like to do French together.
She is really good at cooking macaroni and cheese.
As you can see, my mom is special because she lets me do anything.
Clearly there’s a slightly concerning emphasis on macaroni and cheese and the final comment suggesting I’m an overly permissive parent who lets her children run wild may or may not be entirely accurate. But whatever. I digress.
Something about seeing my role as a mother though the eyes of my son completely broke me open emotionally.
As an anxious mother I spend an obscene amount of time worrying about whether I’m doing right by my children. I try my best to manage my anxiety but there are times when it boils over and I’m not the mother I so desperately want to be. I’m beyond irritable and impatient – I’m angry, and it shows. These are the ugly moments of motherhood that don’t get talked about enough. They are buried under a load of guilt and shame that is far too heavy to lift.
I fear these are the moments that will live on in my son’s memory. That they will somehow overshadow all the “good mother” moments – all the times I watched him play hockey, coloured with him, practiced his French vocabulary and made macaroni and cheese over and over again because it’s actually his favourite meal, not mine.
As I read what he wrote in the card, I saw myself as he sees me – as the mother who holds his hand and loves him no matter what. And what I realized in that moment is that deep down inside, underneath all my fear and anxiety, I know he feels the same way about me.