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Rose-colored glasses that fit

| Sunday, May 11, 2003

Every Mother's Day we collectively put on our rose-colored glasses. Beautiful cards line store shelves, TV commercials remind us to buy gifts, and people everywhere sing the praises of motherhood. Everything is flowery, pink and pretty. For a single day motherhood is portrayed as a time of cheerful sacrifice, kind words and loving embraces. Amidst all this fondness and reverence, I feel like a fraud.

As the mother of young children, there's not a lot in my life that resembles the flowery, pink and pretty picture of Mother's Day. Most of the things in my life are trampled, mud-stained and worn. Mothering in real life doesn't always feel anything like the Mother's Day commercials I see on TV. I am not always cheerful, and some days the sacrifices threaten to overwhelm my sense of who I am.

I wish I were more like a Mother's Day mom. But a lot of the time, mothering feels like work - making breakfast, doing laundry, checking homework, driving kids, over and over and over again.

However, as any mom or dad knows, even the most mundane days can be punctuated with moments that connect us so fiercely and completely that we are overwhelmed by our love for our children. It happens when I feel my daughter's small hand, reaching for the security of my bigger, more experienced hand. Hearing my daughters play kindly together makes me feel proud that they are mine. Seeing my children hold a door for a stranger or show compassion for another child can make the work I do feel so deeply rewarding that is simply impossible to describe.

I suspect that Mother's Day came about because our brains are selective filters. Over time, the feelings of being overwhelmed or underappreciated fade, while the memories of those moments of true connection remain strong. Eight years into motherhood, I can't describe what my labor pains felt like. But the images of my newborns are seared into my brain. They are vivid and clear, a solid part of who I am. Even this early on into motherhood, I suspect that I've already started filtering.

This Mother's Day, I'd like to take the time to salute the moms who are still living the unfiltered life. I'm offering gifts that would be appreciated throughout the year, not just on Mother's Day:

To you new mothers who have only slept two hours and still have to go to brunch and a visit with your in-laws. I wish you strength, patience and a cup of strong coffee, unless of course, you're nursing. In this case, I wish you a cup of half regular, half decaf.

To mothers of siblings: I wish you a day without whining. May you be lucky enough to go 12 hours without hearing any of the following: it's not fair, she started it, or it's mine.

To the mothers of preteens: I wish a day of direct eye contact. Hopefully, this special day will be one without any eye-rolling, comments about your clothes or requests for taxi service to the mall.

To mothers with sick children: I hope that you see improvement and have a day without worry and a night with enough sleep.

To mothers of big families: I wish for the laundry fairy to visit your home and to get everything washed, dried, folded and put into the proper drawers.

To those who are desperate to bear a child: I wish you patience, luck and fertility. To those adopting: I hope that the process is expedient.

To the moms of toddlers: I wish you a peaceful Mother's Day with no tantrums or heaps of food on the floor, especially if you're eating out.

To mothers who feel lost, afraid or overwhelmed: I encourage you to reach out to a sympathetic mom. She will understand.

To the moms who smiled as they choked down a mysterious breakfast this morning: I would give you a date with your husband at your favorite restaurant.

For the mothers who feel frustrated, angry and resentful: I wish some time for yourself so that you can recharge and rebalance.

For mothers of teens: I hope for a day of obeyed speed limits, quiet music and no piercings.

To my own mother, I offer my appreciation and admiration. She's lived the unfiltered life and can enjoy Mother's Day without feeling like a fraud. Her gifts to me are many: life, love and confidence as I was growing. Now, she is still there, offering me support and perspective when I struggle with the enormity of my job as a mother. She may not see herself as wonderful mother, but I do. Could it be that I have my own set of rose-colored glasses?

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