Today I am being completely obnoxious, and am awarding myself
Mother of the Year.
I am giving myself this award for Showing Kindness Where It Is Not Deserved, for Sucking It Up and Taking The High Road, for Infinite Patience in Circumstances I Thought I Would Never Find Myself In (I know, I know. It's "in which I would never find myself". Whatever.).
Is this my first time being awarded Mother of the Year? Oh no. I've been nominated and awarded this to myself many times over the years.
Those long nights, pacing the floor, swaying, patting, shushing, and nursing on very little broken sleep. Enduring countless episodes of baby spit up for five months straight. Finding a job to support my beautiful babies after my husband financially devastated us, then left me. That one time I had my sick two-year-old (and his ten-month-old brother) at the doctor's office and she very sweetly told me I would be going home, packing an overnight bag for my son and for myself, and to take him to the children's hospital. He had pneumonia, and I "slept" next to him through the night while the IV worked it's magic. Those long days of teething and tantrums. The times during the public meltdowns of one or both toddlers, when I would smile at onlookers and say, "Don't forget your birth control!" and scoop my little ones up to go home for a nap...
Today is different though. My boys are a bit older, so the things that require more of me have changed. This time, my oldest declares he wants me to teach him how to bake a cake. I am thrilled! We used to bake together often when they were toddlers and loved it! The past few years find me pleading for them to work with me on cupcakes or cookies. They sort of start to help me out, but get distracted and wander off, leaving me to do the work. They just want me to let them know when the treats are ready. That's just not as much fun for me.
But Julian wants to learn to bake on his own, and I excitedly tell him he is certainly old enough. Then he explains he wants to make a cake for his dad and his bride-to-be. As a gift. His brother wants to make his own, also. Ah.
Ok. So we are making cake. Yes, I will teach them, but their cake must be all their own. And while at Target, I show them all the pretty wedding cards. I ask if they want to pick one out to congratulate their dad and his fiancé. They do! They each choose just the right one. Then they choose a gift card for them. Look at me, being the bigger person! I mentally pat myself on the back.
This may be normal for some divorced families, but certainly not over here. This is all very groundbreaking. I mean, it was only a decade ago that I was huge and round and nearing the delivery of my firstborn. Had someone whispered in my ear that before my child's tenth birthday, I would be married to someone else and helping my boys choose a wedding gift for their dad, no way would I have believed it. Their father barely speaks to me. Ever.There are no kindnesses extended, nothing like that. I am always biting my tongue, taking the high road, doing what's best for my children.
So we now have made all the cakes. We choose and buy frosting. Now we need boxes to transport them in. Then Julian wants a small bride and groom to top his cake. It's hard to find anything at a reasonable price. We try to get creative. We are in a time crunch. I've spent much of my time and energy on helping each boy bake their very own cake. And frost. And the dishes. And he really, really wants a bride a groom for his cake. I am so over the whole cake thing. But this is important to my child. And in a year from now, what's going to matter most? So my child gets the bride and groom that he wants (I feel a teensy bit better when I find a coupon for it). He is happy. That's really all that matters.
The boys both did beautiful jobs with their cakes. They are so proud to discover how capable they are. It shows in their faces.
Knowing I helped each child create and give the gift they wanted to their father makes me a better mother. I left all pettiness aside, because this isn't about me or my ex. It's all about the boys.
So for all the single parents, divorced parents, step parents, working parents, at-home parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and guardians. For all of those moments when you Sucked It Up and Took The High Road, Held Your Tongue when you wanted to say something snarky, Did The Right Thing even though it wasn't fair, Kept It To Yourself for the sake of your children, and Acted Out Of Love for the sake of your beautiful babies, I also award you Mother of the Year.
Now pat yourself on the back. Hug your babies, no matter their age. No reward could possibly be greater.