Being a mother is often an all-encompassing job with only sporadic praise or validation. A lot of our effort goes unnoticed or won't be appreciated by our kids until they're older – maybe even until they have kids themselves! Which is why it's so important to shine light on the effort that we put into parenting and to take the time to celebrate it.
Thinking of this sentiment around Mother's Day I asked two of my best girl friends a simple question...
What is one thing, big or small, that you are most proud of as a mother?
One of my friends said she's proud of how she incorporates playing games and doing puzzles into family time. She remembers playing cards and working puzzles with her grandmother and mom and she loves continuing that family tradition with her girls. My other friend said she's realized how much selfless love she gives to her kids by giving them her time and attention even when she needs to get work done or feels tired.
I wasn't sure what either of them would say – and can think of many things they can be proud of as mothers – so I loved hearing their beautiful answers. As mothers we give in so many ways. Often in little ways again and again and again. To step back and see what those little efforts add up to to is so moving. And powerful.
As for me, I said I'm proud of how much I bring reading and books into the boys' lives. I get books from the library, make reading an everyday activity (and not just a bedtime activity), play lots of podcasts and audiobooks, and put effort into making sure we're reading books about diverse people and situations (I get a lot of inspiration from The Conscious Kid). Reading is an essential part of my life and one of my deep loves. I love giving the gift of books and reading to my children. When I see the boys get excited about new library books, when they talk about something from a book or podcast, or when we can pass 30 minutes waiting at the doctor's office by reading books I think to myself, "Hey I did that!" And I feel proud.
It seems to be perfectly acceptable to talk about guilt or failings as a mother but trickier to celebrate what you're doing well. I'm so glad we can give voice to the hardships of motherhood and am thankful to live in a time where that is possible; it's important to be able to talk about the hard parts honestly. But we should remember to give our accomplishments their due as well.
Now I'd love to ask more of my mom friends what they would say they are most proud of. Not only is it fascinating to know the answers but then we can help celebrate what great moms our friends are. In having a conversation about what we're doing well in motherhood we might realize that we have a lot to feel proud of and that's okay. There are certainly parts of motherhood that aren't my favorite (refereeing sibling squabbles, constantly cleaning up messes, trying to figure out what to have for dinner that everyone will eat...) but if I remind myself of the parts of motherhood that I delight in and what I feel proud of those less enjoyable parts matter a lot less.
If you're a parent, what is one thing big or small that you are most proud of?