Motherhood is a gift. They hand you your newborn and send you home from the hospital, and you think, you have surrounded me by nurses for the past 3-5 days who have swept in when my child needed a diaper change, when I needed that lovely prescription-strength Motrin, when I wanted more of that blessed, blessed ice. And now, you have wrapped up my little living lump and sent me on my way to do it all myself—without an instruction manual, eek!  They have handed you this lump, and they have also just handed you the gift of motherhood.

And as you look down at this helpless lump, with its soft skin and its worried-yet-peaceful sleep face and its little head sagging off its neck, you understand, in your heart that has expanded 10 sizes in the past few days, that this gift is amazing. Then, after 3 months of colicky behavior, or a year in the terrible twos, or any amount of time with a 3-5 year old who is testing boundaries or not getting his way, you see the gift of motherhood for what it is:

When someone hands you the gift of motherhood, they say, “Look, I have this gift for you.” You look, and it is a gift bag, shiny and gleaming, with beautiful tissue paper peeking perfectly out of the top. “Fun!” You say, and you reach to snatch it out of their hands. You can’t wait. You can imagine exactly what is contained in a gift that looks like that.

“Not so fast,” the hander out of the gift says. “You don’t even know what’s inside!” But you have seen your friend’s Facebook feeds who have received this exact same gift, and it looks amazing. You want yours. Now.

“I will tell you what is in the gift before you accept it, so you can be sure,” the hander out of the gift says. “You talk about your friends Facebook feeds. The funny things their kids say. Their pride in their child’s accomplishments. The pictures they have on their walls. Their snuggles. Their sweet ways of looking at the world.”

Yes! You nod. You are practically drooling. The giver of the gift goes on, “Those are diamonds. This bag is full of them.” It takes all of your strength to resist grabbing that gift and running. But you withhold from doing that, because you are nice.

“But,” he goes on. “It is also full of worms. And dirt. And slimy things.” You stop drooling, and you nod. You don’t quite believe him, because you haven’t seen much of that in your Facebook feed, but you still consider it a no brainer. Even if he is right about the other stuff, how could you say no. The bag has diamonds. So you take it.

I thought of this because on Mother’s Day, I scrolled through my Facebook feed and I saw diamonds. Lots and lots of diamonds. But in speaking to a lot of my mom friends after, I realized many were unable to enjoy their Mother’s Days because their kids whined all day, or their son was sitting on their daughter’s head, or someone thought it would be a great idea to have a kinetic sand fight in the playroom.

Their complaints sounded familiar. When I was growing up, my mother expected only diamonds on Mother’s Day. So I remember a lot of her storming away from the dinner table, or a greater than normal intolerance when my brother, sister, and I would get up to our whiney or sit-on-each-other’s-head antics. I remember the day as the day my mom would not likely enjoy. (It was an experience I can now understand, since it’s one that many of my friends describe experiencing.) Mother’s Day was a day where mom gets mad.

So imagine my surprise on my first Mother’s Day, when my son was 6 months old, to discover it was like a second birthday! My husband made me coffee and gave me gifts. And my own mom (who believes in a diamond-only day, remember?) bought me a pedicure gift card. And my son was 6 months old, so he was a 6-month-old. (A lovely older lady at my church believed children—of the sit-quiet or antsy-talky variety—should be welcome in the service. She said everyone should always be expected to act their age.) My first Mother’s Day was so surprisingly special.

As my kids have gotten older, the Mother’s Days are more challenging, but in the same ugly-beautiful way that every day with little ones is challenging. Last year, I started my Mother’s Day with my coffee made by my husband, and ended it stripping wet sheets from my son’s bed. How apt. But, a few days before that I attended my son’s Mother’s Day Tea at his preschool. He had made me a fabulous paper hat (which he insisted I wear every time we went out later that week—to the playground, to the grocery store, to church—”Wait, mom, your hat!” I told him I was saving it for only the special-est of occasions. Like his Prom in 11 years. Yes, that would be a very special time to wear it). At the Tea, his class sang cute songs, and then we sat around a tiny table (with our hats!) to eat oreos and juice. My normally very social and not-touchy little guy sat right by me, looked at me the whole time, pet my arm and back. I remember thinking, He loves me, he loves me! and What the crap did his teachers say to him to make him like this? It was a diamond.


So I apply the wise old church lady age concept to Mother’s Day, and I’ve found that this works for me. Mother’s Day is a celebration of Motherhood—the whole gift bag that we accepted when we brought that lump home from the hospital. Take a look inside—it is the exact same bag on Mother’s Day as every other day, diamonds, worms, and all—except with a few cute crafts thrown in the mix.

This is what we are celebrating on Mother’s Day—that you never regret the decision to accept the gift that was handed to you. You don’t even feel less enthusiastic about it—even after you look inside and realize that the giver was telling the truth about the worms. You have that 10 times bigger heart. You have those diamonds. So you are set.