Thursday, May 5, 2016

A Mom's Real Mother's Day

Written by Guest blogger
Shelle Lenssen

I know Mother’s Day is just around the corner because my first-grader is getting tight-lipped about the big project she’s working on in art class. She’s also nonchalantly asked if my favorite color is regular pink, light pink, or bright pink, and if I have ever eaten breakfast in bed. Likely my future contains a lovely pink handmade gift and my bed covered in spilled pancakes and orange juice. This reality of what my upcoming Mother’s Day will look like is a far cry from what I visualized before I actually had any kids.

Many proud parents just like you appreciate multi-cultural education for your children.  Find Eileen Wacker's award-winning family book series by clicking here.

Before children were in the picture, I imagined my future Mother’s Days would be filled with fancy brunches, pampering, extravagant gifts, and lots of love and adoration from my husband and kids. Now that I’ve got 7 Mother’s Days under my belt, I can say my real version of Mother’s Day is a far cry from the fantasy. We tried going out to brunch one year, but the crowds were overwhelming to the kids, and what was supposed to be a leisurely meal was actually rushed and uncomfortable. While my husband has surprised me with some very extravagant gifts, in recent years, they’ve become much more practical. Last year, for example, we decided a repaired air conditioner was a better use of funds over a new pair of designer boots.

Since my oldest daughter started attending preschool, she’s made me many fabulous gifts and cards that she’s presented to me with much gusto and enthusiasm. Over the years she’s given me handpicked flowers, macaroni jewelry, handprint art, a decorated picture frame, and a lovely “coupon book” filled with sweet intentions. My two-year daughter old isn’t quite up to speed on Mother’s Day, although I’m sure she’ll finger paint a project with lots of zeal and passion. Whatever gifts these two offer on that special Sunday morning, I will receive them gratefully and love on these two babies that bring me more joy than I can possibly contain. I’ll do my best to spend some individual time with each of them, and make sure they know I get to be celebrated because the two of them made me a mother.

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The most pleasant and enjoyable Mother’s Days have been the ones where I kept my expectations in check and therefore didn’t get disappointed when things weren’t perfect. Grilling steaks, eating out on the patio, and laughing at the toddler gnawing on a T-bone were the highlights of last Mother’s Day. If this year’s celebration is just as simple and lovely as last year’s, I’ll be more than satisfied. I enjoy my family more when we’re low-key and casual, and they like me best when I’m not stressing about unrealistic expectations, and having a loving, happy family really is the best Mother’s Day gift I could ever hope for.

Mother’s Day Memory

Guest blog by Kenna McHugh

“The phrase ‘working mother’ is redundant.” —Jane Sellman

My mother worked so hard as a single parent raising three kids on her own. Unlike today,  there were no government subsidies, tax credits, or other opportunities for help.  Yet, she instilled the value of sharing the joy of life.  

My mother worked 8-hours a day on a low salary, and she had a babysitter to help out. But, there was so much involved in raising three children.  She kept track of your school activities, our doctor and dentist appointments, we learned how to swim, and we were involved in sports.

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When I was 5 years old, my sister, brother and I had a very special Mother's Day because we truly wanted to acknowledge our mother. We decided to do the traditional “Let’s make Mom breakfast in bed!”

My sister and brother were older, so they fixed the pancakes, eggs, and orange juice. My job was to make everything look pretty. I set up the serving tray with a rose in a vase, cloth napkin, and our best plate and silverware.  The tray almost looked too heavy for my sister to carry, but she walked up to my mom’s bedroom. My brother opened the door and in walked my sister as I followed behind. My mom gradually woke up as my brother went to the right side of the bed. My sister went the left side where my mother slept, and I peered up from the foot of the bed.  Together we wished, “Happy Mother’s Day!”

My mother smiled and laughed with a hint of tears. She thanked us and ate the breakfast in bed as we watched. I kept giggling because I was so excited we were able to do something special for her. 
When my mom was done eating her breakfast, she paused, and smiled at us and asked, “What would you like to do today?”

The Moms Code author Eileen Wacker also writes the acclaimed childrens books The Fujimini Adventure Series Many proud parents just like you appreciate multi-cultural education for your children.  Find the book series by clicking here. 

We said, “Mom, it is your day. We want to do what you want to do.”
My mom looked out the window at the windy day, smiled, and said, “Let’s go to the park and fly your kites.”

We cleaned up, got dressed, and headed off to the park. For the first time, I was able to get the kite in the air for longer than 3 minutes. I didn’t get the kite as high as my sister or brother, but I did keep it up in the air for almost 15 minutes. While my sister and brother continued to fly their kites, I sat in my mom’s lap watching.  I felt very special being with my mom as we talked. I think I did most the talking, as she ran her fingers through my hair and listening. 

My mother made me feel special while I sat in her lap, and it made me proud to be her daughter. She is gone, now. But, she taught me the value of being with someone and making them feel special.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Mom's Code Chronicle #5 Celebrations and Mishaps

Written by Eileen Wacker

My most profound memories stand out as moments of extreme joy or pain. Many of the most joyous ones happened during celebrations when I embraced my family’s love, received gifts, ate favorite foods, dressed in new clothes, and felt perfectly carefree without school or other obligations.

But that was when I was young and sat on the fence as to whether unicorns are actually real. As a mom, I started to consider celebrations a chore.  They are endless: birthdays (including the dogs), Christmas, Thanksgiving, July 4th, Halloween, Easter, and Valentines Day are the headliners. Then there are graduation ceremonies starting with pre-school, piano recital parties and all those Monday holidays too numerous to list. So things can get a little out of control.

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It’s the end of April and I’m planning three kids’ birthday parties, an eighth grade graduation, and the family summer vacation. This is all in addition to the ‘normal routine’.

I put too much emphasis on creating perfect celebration events. As a mom of four, I feel like I own the traditions and should create memories to last a lifetime. But inevitably, a thousand issues push their way onto my perfect planning. I’ve had meltdowns at my kids’ carefully orchestrated and expensive birthday parties. One time an angry clown showed up and scared my son; to this day we avoid clowns.  Or when my daughter’s best friend ignored her during her party or yet another time when the dog took a big bite out of the Nemo birthday cake.

Then there are vacations, which are supposed to be times of perfect familial bliss. We’ve spent a lot of money and I’ve put a lot of time and energy into planning and creating the appropriate atmosphere of excitement. Then I yelled at my kids at the happiest place on earth, yes Disney. And at least one child has packed dreadfully wrong every time. One time my son took all his clothes out of the suitcase and packed only Halloween costumes for a beach vacation. We never all have the right bathing suits, and, sunscreen leaks in the suitcase are a common occurrence. When we ski during the holiday season, there is always someone who has no pants or forgot covered shoes.

I can mess up any holiday! I hosted a Thanksgiving dinner and the oven broke two hours into cooking the turkey. So we ate take-out Chinese food (and it was delicious). Now we eat a fine meal at an upscale hotel in Kauai every year. I know I’m in a good mood when all my kids resemble glasses of champagne. And then someone actually serves me one. I look at my husband and kids and feel festive and happy. Even when the kids eat the dessert first, order French fries off the menu, and the birds swoop in and eat food off our plates.

So now, in April, I take a deep breath and remember that it’s who’s sitting next to me that make it a celebration. It really doesn’t take a lot to have fun. I know what kind of cake my kids like by now. I can handle any birthday party with one Costco run. And iTunes cards double as a birthday gift or party favor.

The Moms Code author Eileen Wacker also writes the acclaimed childrens books The Fujimini Adventure Series Many proud parents just like you appreciate multi-cultural education for your children.  Find the book series by clicking here. 

I remind myself to celebrate smaller things; celebrate good moments. I pick up my son and he tells me he got a great grade in Spanish. “You got an A on your homework? Well that is worth celebrating!” I half yell in an inappropriately cheerful voice. He looks at me with raised eyebrows and asks if I’m okay. Then I pick up my little girl and she’s had a tough day. People on her group project are not getting along and someone called her small.

I put on my pretend birthday party hat. There is something worth celebrating every day. Life is not easy for anyone, adult or child. Kids have big schedules. They have to work through adversity at school, deal with insensitive teachers and coaches. Strive to establish their identity. I want to keep the atmosphere light and happy. My little girl loves an iced tea and a chocolate croissant from Starbucks. It’s all it takes to have her light up and feel completely happy. Someday, I’m going to kill for the moments when the price of a smile was an iced tea.

I want to celebrate the journey and all the accomplishments, big and small, along the way. After all this practicing of celebrating the small stuff, I’ll be a whiz at the big celebrations. My little girl says, “Mom, all you need is wrapping paper and cupcakes.” I ask her, “For the summer vacation or birthday party?” She smiles and says, “Both. I always forget my bathing suit anyways so I can wear wrapping paper. That would be funny.”

She’s right. It would be funny and we would have another entry for our family blooper reel of celebrations.