When I was a new mom, my friend Karen (same Karen from Giggles and Grins at the Zoo) bought me a mug for my first Mother’s Day. The mug was white, illustrated with a stick figure mom and the caption “Bestest Mommy Ever” printed in colorful letters. It was made to look like a preschool child wrote it with crayons; some of the letters were backwards. I cherished that mug. Unfortunately, it broke years ago.
My three children were by far the Bestest Mommy’s Day gift I ever received. I never knew love could be so powerful until I became a mom. From the get-go, I was swept off my feet, and madly in love.
The best memories of motherhood I have are when my kids were growing up. My life was very tough then, however I was thankful I got to be a stay-at-home mom. Their presence made the difficulty bearable. I did all I could to make my kids feel special when they were growing up. They were my everything. Since two of my kids were born just before Christmas, I instituted half-birthdays for them in the summer. That way my winter birthday children wouldn’t feel “jipped.” It gave them an opportunity to get cool summer stuff like sand buckets and water toys. My other child born in June’s half-birthday was in January.
The half-birthday gig was easy. I made cupcakes, or took them out for an ice-cream and made the day special for the child celebrating. They also received an inexpensive gift. When they got a little older, I took them out on a half-birthday special date.
Money was almost extinct at our house, though my then-husband made a very good wage. He wasn’t much into gift giving. He thought Christmas and birthdays were overrated. “I only got socks and underwear on those occasions when I was a kid,” he’d say. He preferred to gamble his money or spend it on himself and friends.
I did everything I could to raise money for gifts. I sold Avon, stitchery kits, Tupperware; I babysat, I had yearly multiple yard sales, and became a Christmas Around The World consultant. In the 1980s, Christmas Around The World was a company that rewarded its hostesses with earned gifts, much like Tupperware does, except they sold toys and gifts. Many of my kids’ Christmas and birthday gifts came from Christmas Around The World, Avon or Tupperware.
The other gifts the kids got mainly came from my mom. With very little money to spend on my family, I became adept at finding every clearance sale item in any store I visited. I couldn’t believe I was getting the same quality item someone paid full price for, at a fraction of the price. Unfortunately, the dollar store had not yet been conceived.
One year my two daughters’ badly wanted winter boots, though San Diego’s climate was very mild. My son Jonathan already had cowboy boots so, I bought him a cowboy hat instead. I had the kids sit on the floor and tightly close their eyes while I placed their respective gifts in front of them. Then, with my camera ready, I asked them to open their eyes. Jonathan’s neck whiplashed when he saw his sisters had boots and he only had a cowboy hat, even though that was what he had been wanting.
“Hey! Where’s my boots?” I caught his expression in the picture at top. Those days were maddening, but fun. I would love to be with my small children again, even just for an hour.
Happy Mother’s Day to every mom reading this. Being a mother is definitely the hardest job in the universe, topped only by being a single mom. This I know from experience. Don’t forget to honor your mother this Mother’s Day if you can, even if just with a call. If your mom was or is a single mom, hug her twice as much, and tell her how much you appreciate the sacrifices she’s made on your behalf!
By ~ Elizabeth Yalian ©2013