I know that Mother's Day was more than two months ago, but I couldn't bring myself to not dedicate a post to that special day. Like many of you ladies out there, I have many reasons to celebrate this day. Here are my top seven...Reason #1: I have an amazing mom. She not only brought me into this world, but she raised me, taught me, and loved me. She taught me to think through decisions, to be grateful, to respect and serve others, to value family, to write thank you notes, to remember people's birthdays, to be silly sometimes, to love my Savior, and to value education. She has always supported me in learning/pursuing anything that I was interested in...even when that took me to the other side of the world (Taiwan) all by myself. She put her own desires after her children's wants - whether in relation to time or money. And, she (along with Mark) is my best friend. Plus, now that I am a mother myself, I am constantly gaining a new perspective & appreciation (with each new stage my children enter) for my mom, the things she's done for me, and the sacrifices she's made for my siblings and me. I'm learning to appreciate how hard she worked to always keep an organized, clean, and comfortable home. I've gained an understanding of how hard it is to function well even when you're sleep deprived or exhausted. I'm learning to appreciate all the times she was patient with me, and I can only imagine the things I'll realize about her once I have teenagers of my own! And, of course, I love how much she loves my children. She is always anxious and willing to spend time with them, and they love when she does! She is such a wonderful grandma, and I love sharing all the little details about my boys with her and knowing that she loves hearing all about them. Thanks for being you, Mom. I love you!
Reason #2: My grandma. She has always been an intimate part of my life...I always enjoyed Sundays & holidays at her home, and eating her delicious food. She attended my recitals, soccer games, and every other major (and often minor) milestone in my life. For my 16th birthday, all I wanted was to go visit them in California (where they were serving as a mission president). We've traveled together (many times growing up) to southern California - which is why I love Disneyland so much. We've been together to Hawaii, Israel, and even Hong Kong. She & my grandpa even lived with us for a while. I remember as a child laying in her lap while she rubbed my back, and I remember feeling important while I was allowed to sit in the seat between her & my grandpa while driving. Two of my favorite possessions are dolls that she made for me - one is a baby that wears my blessing dress and she made to look like I did, the other is a beautiful bride doll she gave me for my wedding. She got all the inside-scoop from my mom on details before the wedding, and she replicated them...from the dress, to the bouquet, to my hair & veil. It was such a beautiful & thoughtful gift, and means even more to me that she made it for me. I always have felt her love, have always felt that she was proud of me, and have always looked up to her.
Reason #3: I have the most fantastic mother-in-law. Seriously. I know that a lot of people just have to "deal with" their mother-in-law, but I really love Mary. I remember once as a teenager thinking how sad I was that she couldn't be my mother-in-law someday (since Mark & I weren't dating anymore at the time). Over the last 14 & 1/2 years that I've known her, she has always been kind and accepting of me, and I have always felt that she's had genuine concern for me. I remember once when Mark was on his mission (he & I weren't "together" and I was away at college) that she just called to check in on me and chat. That meant a lot to me since she didn't have an "obligation" to do that. I remember during high school taking long drives together (on our way to watch Mark' soccer games together) and not running out of things to talk about. She has a cheerful air about her and I've always felt comfortable around her. I love how selfless Mary is also, and I have been the beneficiary of this generosity more times than I could count. A few that stand out right now include her flying out to Des Moines and helping us pack our whole apartment, and then drive with us all the way to Utah. She has cheerfully helped us out a countless number of times by watching our boys (who adore her), including staying at our house to help me & the boys while I was recovering from surgery after having Lincoln. Over the years she has spent lots of time flying from one place to another helping people (her other children, her parents, or perfect strangers who she has volunteered to help in other countries). Most of all though, I love her for raising Mark to be the wonderful husband & father that he is. Many of Mark's amazing qualities can be attributed to the person that Mary is, and the things she taught my husband.
Reason #4: Nicole. Noah's birthmother. One of my favorite parts of Mother's Day is thinking about when our sons joined our life. And, intertwined with that is my love and gratitude for Nicole...she is the one whose selfless decision made me a mother. Anyone who knows us very well has heard us express our love and admiration for Nicole. She is a beautiful person inside and out. I will never forget the way I felt when she placed that perfect, beautiful bundle into my arms and my life changed forever. I'm so grateful for Nicole, and my heart is bound to hers forever.
Reason #5: Modern medicine & generosity. Most of you know the story of how Lincoln came to join our family. We were offered the amazing opportunity to have a cycle of IVF sponsored, and this time it worked! Thanks to the generosity of the financial donors, the expertise of the doctors and medical staff (and the donation of their services), and the miracles of modern medicine - Lincoln joined our family and I experienced the amazing experience of pregnancy & childbirth.
Reasons #6 & #7: Noah & Lincoln. I am so glad not only to be a mother, but to be a mother to those two particular boys. I'd be kidding myself if I tried to pretend that being their mom is always easy and perfect - it's not. Sometimes it's frustrating and exhausting and challenging, and sometimes I'm not patient enough. However, they also bring me such complete joy. I love watching them learn and grow. I love how they look to me for pride, approval, and affection. I love their unique little personalities and quirks. I love that, for this short time, I am able to be part of every moment and experience in their lives and that I know them better than anyone does. I love watching them see things for the first time, and master a new skill for the first time. I love both of them so much, and I love them in a way that I didn't know how to love before knowing them.
So, there you go! My top 7 reasons for celebrating Mother's Day! Now, I just wanted to include a few pictures from some of our Mother's Day celebrations this year. The day before Mother's Day we brought flowers to both of our moms. Here is Noah looking back as he took them up to the front door at my parents house. He looked so adorable standing on that porch by himself with that big bouquet of roses.
We attended church at our own ward on Mother's Day and then Mark's parents and brother Dave came over for dinner. It was a nice, tasty dinner and it was nice to eat outside! After dinner my family joined us for dessert and we all played cards...somehow I didn't get any pictures. It was a really nice day though.
Here are my favorite pictures from Mother's Day though. After we got home from church, Lincoln found his little Buzz Lightyear and climbed up onto the couch and fell asleep. He was so sound-asleep that he didn't even stir when Noah started kissing and hugging on him. Noah even moved Lincoln's head back and forth and he didn't wake up. I was glad we had our camera handy to snap a couple of quick pictures though, because I thought it was really cute.
It was nice to have one of those "awww" moments on Mother's Day. I had a really nice day. I regret to admit though that there were several years preceding 2006 (when I became a mother) that, despite all I had to celebrate & be grateful for on Mother's Day, I dreaded Mother's Day. I hated the acute heartache and longing that I felt on that day. I yearned so much to become a mother, and each year that passed without that dream being realized seemed to breathe more pain into the wound that I more potently felt on Mother's Day. So, I imagine that on every Mother's Day, amidst my gratitude, my heart will also always continue to go out to the many women who want nothing more than to be blessed with a child...and I will continue to remember how blessed I am to not only have reasons #1-3, but also to be grateful for reasons #4-7 in my life!