The Thirteenth Letter: Kiddie Pools & Mother’s Day

phonto-2Dear Daughters,

Last Sunday was mother’s day. At about 11 o’clock in the morning, instead of being at church, I was lounging in the backyard with my swimsuit on, a sun visor on my head, and my feet in your kiddie pool.

It was hot.

I felt a little bit Kentucky.

I felt a little bit heathen.

But ya’ll were sick again and had been for a few days. Fevers. Congestion. Some unfortunate bodily fluids. It wasn’t pretty. (Just ask your grandparents who’d come in to visit for the weekend, especially to see you and celebrate birthdays. They actually got up at 3 o’clock that morning and had driven back to Pennsylvania.)

Because of the fevers, we couldn’t put you in the church nursery, and so we hit the “pool” instead. The kiddie pool with the blow-up slide and the sprinkler giraffe head. Yes.

My mom’s birthday is May 12, so it always falls on or around mother’s day. After my parents’ divorce, mother’s day weekend was always a special little vacation my brother and I spent with my mom. I say “always,” but it might have only been two or three times. That’s how memories work.

One year we took the camper and drove to Williamsburg, Virginia. Isn’t that amazing? My recently divorced single momma driving a camper to Virginia to spend the weekend with her kiddos? I am so impressed with her, perhaps more so every year that I myself am a mom.

I think the Williamsburg trip was the year Mom turned 40, and Stephen and I managed to hide a bunch of ugly you’re-turning-40 decorations in the camper and surprised her. There was even a little troll, i believe, with gray hair wearing a T-shirt that said “Forty Isn’t Old If You’re a Tree.”

These are the random things I remember from my childhood. Regardless, my mom is pretty amazing.

So is yours. Let me go take a picture of that sun visor.

Last week, when I brought home the mother’s day and birthday cards I planned to give my mom this year–she’s the grandma that was in town for the weekend–your dad leaned in and whispered to me, “I wasn’t planning anything special for mother’s day, just so you know.”

I knew he was serious, and I had already assumed we wouldn’t make the day particularly special. That’s how we are. That’s what I prefer.

Given that I am such a spokesperson for the liturgical calendar, i suppose it’s surprising I am such a non-Hallmark-traditionalist when it comes to celebrating holidays. And by non-traditionalist, I mean minimalist. Or if-at-all-ist. For most Hallmark holidays, that is. Most of the time. Even birthdays. Even my own.

Part of it is this: If you love and appreciate someone–be it your momma, your friend, your daughter–you really should be telling her all the year long.

We all know this.

And yet the sappiest sap appears at holidays like mother’s day, as if we’re surprised an entire year has gone by since the last time we expressed our undying appreciation to our mothers and somehow we managed not to say it in the meantime.

Add that to the insensitivity a lot of us have regarding the folks all around us who carry baggage and pain and sadness related to motherhood–broken homes, infertility and miscarriage, recent deaths of loved ones–well, it kind of irks me. And don’t even get me started on the way we in the church seem to do the worst job of being sensitive in these matters. Sigh.

And so there was the kiddie pool. And the sun visor.

I want you to know that I love you. Every day, my sweet girls. I love you every day. Every day I want you to know.

And I want you to know that mother’s day is not a big deal to me.

I’m sure you’ll make all kinds of mother’s day crafts and handprint cards and dried-macaroni-projects over the years, and that’s sweet. I’ll discreetly put them in your memory boxes for you to have someday.

It’s not that I don’t care, but what I care about more are the snuggles that wipe snot on my pants, and the kisses with the baby tongue hanging out, and the I-love-you-toos.

Sure, I’ll keep buying my own momma and the other mommas in my life Mother’s Day cards. That’s just what you do, and I’m okay with it.

But I will also keep telling them I love them.

And telling you I love you.

And offering you these letters. They’ll last longer than the blow-up kiddie pool.


Your Momma