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SALT LAKE CITY — I have mixed feelings about Mother’s Day.
Sure, I don’t have to cook, the kids make cute cards and gifts and my husband looks at me through glazed-over eyes at the end of the day — the one day a year where he does everything I usually do the other 364 days — and tells me that there is no way on earth he could possibly do what I do. Sure, there’s that.
But then there’s the tough part: hearing praises for the mom who never raises her voice or prepares a hot meal every night of the week, seeing the moms whose kids actually wear matching socks or whose teenagers are willing to acknowledge them in public places.
I secretly hope these moms have messy closets.
The sad truth is I yell when provoked, serve sandwiches for dinner, am largely unsuccessful at helping my kids find matching socks, and have been known to approach my own teenage children in the mall to introduce myself. The poor kids try desperately to pretend they’re shopping alone, but I blow their cover every time.
So this year I decided to analyze my Mother’s Day cards and gifts to help me feel validated as a mom.
My 8-year-old daughter made two cards. The first said, “Thanks for giving me birth. You’re the best mom ever!” The second was a coupon that said, “One day off. Your kids will do all your work.” She only forgot one tiny detail — to ask her siblings beforehand for their consent.
The PowerPoint presentation created by my 10-year-old son had a telling line: “I’m glad you’re my mom because you’re very fun. And you got me most of my stuff and stuff to survive.” Sappiness isn’t his thing.
I had resigned myself to the idea that my 15-year-old daughter hadn’t given me anything, but when I thought about it I remembered she gave up going to the lake to spend time with me, woke up early Sunday morning to help and even cleaned the bathroom. She sacrificed what she would much rather have been doing to help me. That was her gift.
My pragmatic 13-year-old son handed me three coupons: “A free favor,” “40 percent off dinner jobs” and “Free babysitting.” In very small print at the bottom of each coupon, it said, “May not be combined with any other offer!” I clarified, “So this means I can’t give you more than one coupon on the same day?” “Exactly.” The coupons expire at the end of the month.
Despite my 2,096 mothering faults, it appeared as if my kids still liked me. Validation was just one gift away.
So I opened it.
Tied with a huge pink bow, the gift my 5-year-old son brought home from preschool was nothing less than adorable, and the whole family watched with great anticipation as I untied the bow and pulled out a dinner plate featuring his artwork. He had carefully drawn and labeled a picture of the two of us standing next to each other. Next to the picture he had meticulously written: "I (heart) Dad."
Trying to find validation through Mother’s Day cards and gifts can be a bad idea.
Enough scrutiny. I hugged my kids and sat down to a delicious dinner I didn’t have to prepare. I even got to use my new plate, crafted by a sweet 5-year-old who seems to really love his dad.
Susie Boyce is the mother of five and pens the column "Serious MomSense."
Visit her website at www.susieboyce.org.