I’ll admit that sometimes I feel frustrated at trying so hard at a job that seemingly has very little thanks returned.
Yesterday my baby turned one and there are no pictures of me from that day. Literally none. Because I was the one taking the many beautiful photographs of my daughters and husband having birthday cake for breakfast (our tradition), or picking apples at the orchard, or opening the gifts I’d lovingly bought for her.
The thought crossed my mind as we prepared for bed that there were no images of me, the woman who had given birth to this tiny-but-loud miracle of a girl, from the day we celebrated her arrival. I felt annoyed.
This morning, we woke up and I put on the pajama shirt that my family had given me yesterday as a gift. It appropriately says “prime coffee time” and was a physical token of thanks from my family to me in honor of our child’s first birthday.
So I put on my new nightshirt and, not ironically, make myself a coffee, and I uncover that my thoughts—as I roll through this morning routine—again catch on my irritation at having no pictures with me in them. (As I’ve shared previously, this is why I started taking selfies with my kids.)
And this morning begins another special day. In these foggy morning after-effects of a first birthday, we are cozy and preparing for a new day of wonderful “firsts”—later this evening we are going to the girls’ first wedding.
I’m gearing up for another day that might be challenging for me as “mom,” but is worth it because of my daughters’ childish excitement and experiences. More, I’m noticing how my own attitude—of either gratitude or frustration—colors and shapes everything we do.
The tone of my voice and the way I treat my husband, in particular, are directly connected to the mood I choose to wear.
Personally, I find it important for both myself, and for what I teach my children, to be honest in honoring my emotions, even these uglier ones. Regardless, owning a feeling and then choosing either to unnecessarily wallow in it or move forward from it is a personal choice.
I sit writing this in a Minnie Mouse party hat.
As “mom,” I, clearly, wear many hats.
I wear a “wife” hat, a “yoga teacher” hat, a “writer” hat and, most importantly, a “mother” one. I chose to wear all of these hats and a variety of others, and this knowledge is important, but it doesn’t make some days easier.
Being a mother is difficult and not made simpler by the reality that I am a woman and an individual outside of and underneath this one, favorite role.
So I choose to expose my disappointment at something as simple and profound as not having a single photograph of me and my baby on her first birthday—but then I choose to expose, too, that I didn’t ask for one to be taken of us with the voice that I easily could have used.
I didn’t ask for a picture and happily took the gorgeous collection we have because I was enjoying myself, and I was appreciating watching my girls with their dad. It wasn’t until later that I really noticed how I wasn’t in any of them. Pictures are important, but children, even more than lasting imprints on paper, need parents to be present; imprinting memories on hearts.
I sit here in this party hat, drinking coffee and wearing my new “prime coffee time” shirt. While this gift is meaningful beyond easy measure, I don’t typically expect “thank you’s” for my mother hat-wearing job. Apart from kisses and cuddles and healthy, happy children, expecting regular, verbal, actual “thank you’s” is a bit outside of reality and slightly self-centered. Instead, I look for the thanks where and how it’s offered, naturally.
I find it in how my husband plays with the girls so I can write in a party hat.
I find it, also, in how my oldest daughter wants to wear jewelry and clothing that are the same as mine.
I see it obviously in the way the baby grabs my cheeks in her small, strong hands, kissing me directly on the lips with her own.
I am grateful. I’m grateful to discover that these coveted “thank you’s” have been there all along, and I have only to reach out and meet them with my own indebted heart.