We like Mother's Day. We've had hit-or-miss Mother's Days in earlier years (in terms of my family of origin), but recently, over the past several years, we've gone through attitude adjustments for the better and figured out that as long as we are together or at least in contact, and we have some good food and take pictures, it will be a happy Mother's Day.
This year both my mother and I have REALLY earned our stripes.
First, about my mother: our relationship as I was growing up was sometimes strained, because she wanted the best for me, but we sometimes had communication issues. I frequently didn't understand why certain things had to be a certain way, and she didn't always do such a great job of explaining. The older I got, the more I understood. Sometimes she made mistakes. Sometimes she was stubborn. Often, I was a total pain. I fell in line most of the time regardless, but there was kicking and screaming. You know, the usual. Makes me glad that I have a boy and another on the way. Granted, my brother and my mother had a similar relationship, so having only boys is no guarantee that I'll avoid having the same troubles that my mother did.
We all grew up, not just us kids but my mother as well. Dad was usually along for the ride regardless. He's pretty great...but I'll talk about him more as Father's Day approaches. The fact that we all turned out to be successful and happy adults with very few major issues has definitely allowed my mother to relax and be lots of fun. She is very heavily involved in our lives, and we welcome it. Most of the time.
In particular, my mother has been very involved (as has my father, as has my father-in-law...but again, we're not on them right now) in The Boy's treatment. Even before his diagnosis, my parents made it a point to see The Boy about once a month. After his diagnosis and when we were still just doing the outpatient chemo, they continued that practice. They planned a visit in October and, as it turned out, The Boy was in the hospital for a fever. That was the first time that my mother offered to stay overnight in the hospital with him, and she decided that she liked it and would offer to do it frequently. My mother was there for his second surgery in Philadelphia. When he was put on the new chemo regimen, and we learned that his stays for treatment would be every three weeks, she decided that she would stay overnight in the hospital with him for most or all of the treatments. She and Musical Daddy agreed that with my being pregnant, it wasn't an option for me to stay in with him anyway because of toxic pee. With the exception of that awful first stay, where we were all sick, the chemo visits have been very easy (and we hope that they stay that way). My mother says that she really enjoys herself, and while I don't want to take advantage of her or take her for granted, I am so grateful that she does come in for these visits because it is pretty much the only "time off" that I get. She encourages Musical Daddy and me to get some time out. When she comes here by herself, I encourage her to come out with me a little bit too.
I realized after talking to a friend of mine who has two grandchildren, one a year older and one a year younger than The Boy, that many grandparents would be itching to get the kind of quality time that my mother gets with The Boy, even if it is in the hospital. As a result, The Boy LOVES Grandma so much, to the point where last night we went out to the movies and he didn't cry or get upset when we left, just said "bye!" and blew kisses. It makes us feel so good to leave him with my mother, because we know that he is completely comfortable and won't get upset, and she knows him well enough to know what he needs without some of the guesswork that would otherwise be required with a kid his age and a less familiar caregiver.
My mother is well-known as a caring and giving person. She takes care of everyone, not just her own family. She has made a difference in so many lives, and we are incredibly lucky.
I wish I had gotten to know Musical Daddy's mother better. She seems to have been cut from that same mold, in that she made a difference in so many lives and was known for being an exceptional person in general. One of the greatest testaments to her as a mother, aside from her sons and their successes, is her granddaughter, for whom she was the primary mother figure for so long. I am certain that were she still around today, she would also be taking excellent care of The Boy.
As for myself, I don't usually expect anyone to make a big deal about holidays or birthdays or anything, because it's just not that important to me. I have such a wonderful family and I'm glad to have them. I am grateful that one of my friends, and one of my sisters as well, have turned me onto pedicures, because it's a little luxury that I can be treated to every now and then, either in honor of an occasion or just because. I like dinners out sometimes too. Especially these days, a great gift is the opportunity to go out with Musical Daddy for a meal or a walk. Another great gift is being able to go somewhere with both him and The Boy and just have a good time.
Of course, so much has changed between last Mother's Day and this one. I've had to do a LOT more than I ever expected in terms of performing my duties as a mother. Musical Daddy does a fine job of letting me know just how important my job is (as right now, I don't really have any other job) and thanking me for taking such good care of our boy. It makes a difference, I know that it does, and he is better off for having me to care for him all the time. The Boy thanks me with hugs and kisses, and by saying "hap-py" when I'm holding him (that was unprompted the first time, by the way...), and saying "I love you" and just being as sweet as can be. He's not perfect, as no child ever is, but he is an amazing boy. Which, by the way, has not changed. I still hold by my theory that the extra love and attention that he has received as a result of his illness have made him even sweeter and even more loving. Last Mother's Day was certainly less complicated, but I have a much greater understanding of how lucky I am this year.