Mothers are all too familiar with the presents little ones hand over for Mother’s Day, usually made at daycare or kindergarten. Painted flowerpots, home to seeds or wilted seedlings. Pinecone art. Macaroni art. Anything that sparkles glued to construction paper.
But recently, I was reminded of another gift they present to us, every day – their complete trust in our ability to take care of them.
My eldest son and I were talking about the days when I first got my driver’s licence, when I was 30 years old. He was five. It was terrifying, driving him around as a newbie. So I decided to take us on a road trip across BC, to become a better driver as quickly as possible.
I know, I know. I had no clue what I was getting into.
With some terrible advice from Google Maps and a lack of attention to my actual roadmap, I drove us down some very steep mountain passes with some very angry drivers behind me. I was taking it a bit too slow, but I couldn’t force myself to speed up.
It was completely terrifying. I was so mad at myself for taking such a challenging trip with my kid in the back seat. I shook all the way down that mountain.
But my son didn’t. And today, he remembers this wonderful trip we took together.
When I asked him why he wasn’t nervous back then, driving around with an inexperienced driver, he told me, “I knew you’d handle it, Mom. You always do.”
He has so much more faith in me than I ever have in myself. He knows I am exactly the right person to take care of him, to be there for him, to love him.
I remember having the same feeling about my mother during very difficult circumstances. We lost our farm up north, and she and my father separated. The bank accounts were empty, and it was winter in Fort St. John.
My mother was working while taking care of three kids, including my baby brother. We were barely surviving. And then they cut the power on us.
My mother has since told me how scared she was and how hopeless she felt. But we didn’t know. We just knew that she would do everything possible to make us warm and to keep us safe. And she did – though it was hard for her, she went to her sister for help and got us through the winter.
That summer she ensured we wouldn’t suffer another winter like that and moved us south to the Sunshine Coast. She packed our belongings, three kids (including a baby at the end of a bout of chicken pox) and a large, drooling Newfoundland dog into a very hot station wagon that had seen better days. She drove the entire way herself, willing the station wagon to get us to our new home.
And we trusted her to get us there.
Sometimes the belief of our children – their confidence in us – is a heavy load. They can take us for granted. They can expect too much from us. Newborns don’t question our ability to wake over and over all night to feed them. Toddlers fearlessly test boundaries, taking off on us without ever doubting we’ll quickly block them from unsafe places. Teenagers expect us to put up with their disdain and irritation and still, through it all, love them and guide them to the other side of adolescence.
And we do. We do all these difficult, near impossible things for our kids every day, sometimes all day. And then the next day, and the next year. We do it.
Mother’s Day is a perfect time to reflect on the challenge of motherhood. Because bringing babies into the world and leading them safely into adulthood is not easy. We all know this. It takes so much out of us.
But those babies, those children, they look at you and know you can do it. They believe in you.
Whether you’re honoured with a glittery flowerpot, a pile of pasta glued to a toilet roll, or just another batch of dirty diapers this Mother’s Day, know that the real gift is that another human being has complete faith in you. Take a minute to see yourself through your child’s eyes. You are strong. You are momentous. You are safety and comfort.
You can handle this.