If you asked me what I received as a Mother’s Day gift last year, I admit, I don’t remember. If you asked me to list all my favorite gifts over the last few years or even longer, I don’t remember those either. Don’t get me wrong — I like getting gifts! Who doesn’t? But gifts, as wonderful as they can be, don’t have much of a lasting emotional impact on me. What then comes to mind when I reflect on being “mommy” (now “mom”) for just over 30 years?
Looking back, If I were given the chance to give my younger self advice about how to be the best mom I could be, I would say, “Invest time and build memories.” Reflecting on moments and fun times we’ve had together over the years bring great joy. From small simple pleasures to big events, they put a smile on my face. I can celebrate Mother’s Day any time I think about these memories. Here are a few that are near and dear to my heart.
Our Family Vacations
Taking regular family vacations was of the highest priority. This was a value passed on to me by my parents. Even though of modest means and with only a station wagon as transport, my parents made sure we had fun every summer going on a road trip.
My children are die-hard Disney fans. They know every ride, the quickest route and are experts on how to beat the lines. Disney pretty much encapsulates our family’s definition of fun. Other memorial adventures include the renting of a RV for a road trip, swimming and snorkeling with turtles and mantas, trips to Mexico where they enjoyed using their Spanish and cruising-where I hardly saw them all day!
As a family we supported and followed our children’s passion. As a young girl, I had little interest in sports, but for my boys, it was a major part of their life. They lived and breathed baseball and today are loyal Giant fans. From Tee-Ball through high school, I was there attending more games than I can count. Now, when I walk through a local park and hear the ping of a metal bat hitting a baseball, it brings back a flood of memories. Providing snacks for the team, extra innings, cold benches, experiencing exuberance and despair-all for the love of the game. My step-daughter’s sport was ballroom dancing. It was thrilling to see her grace and skill at competitions. I can’t watch “Dancing with the Stars” without reliving those exciting moments.
Our Shared Faith
My faith is an essential part of who I am. It was and is of the highest importance for me to share my values and beliefs with my children. Our faith as a family provided boundaries and guidelines for how to treat others as well as how to express loving forgiveness. This foundation proved to be central and key to getting us through the bumpy teen years as well as the sad times of losing loved ones.
Our Furry Friends
My children were raised with both dogs and cats. Experts believe that raising children with animals helps to develop compassion and empathy. That may be so, but for us, family pets brought a level of fulfilment and fun that greatly enriched our lives. As a member of the family their antics often dominated the conversation and were a constant source of lightness and entertainment. Their unconditional love provided another source of nurturing and tenderness different and separate from mine.
We expressed our creative side with lots of music and art experiences. Some of their creations are packed away, saved as treasures made for “mommy” with love throughout the years. Today one of my greatest joys is doing art projects with my 3 year old granddaughter. Monday is “Grandma Day” where we play and make something new every week.
My children are “launched” and every-day mothering is no longer needed. While I don’t take credit for their decisions, I am proud of them for their chosen professions and service to others. I did the best I could with the tools I had. I supported, guided, corrected and loved with boundless energy. I made mistakes and I made good decisions. I forgave and they did, too. I am grateful and blessed to have so many fun times and memories that make celebrating Mother’s Day an ongoing event in my life.
Janada Clark is grandma to Lily and a mom of 2 sons — David, a special education teacher and Stephen a Lt. in the Navy — and a stepdaughter Kelly who lives in France and teaches English to school children. Janada is also a parent educator teaching parenting classes within our community and often writes parenting articles for PAMP.