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What Father's Day Taught Me

This year, I had a really crummy Mother’s Day.

My husband tried to let me sleep in, but my toddler ended up banging down the door to our bedroom at 8 a.m. I decided I wanted to avoid the Mother’s Day brunch crowds. And when my husband asked me what I did want to do to celebrate, I just couldn’t think of anything to do as a family that wasn’t ultimately going to be completely exhausting and stressful.

I think I had wanted some combination of a meal out where I didn’t have to cut anyone’s food or play referee; a few hours at the coffee shop by myself to read and write; and a party in my honor that I wouldn’t have to prep for or clean up after. How utterly ridiculous!

In the end, we did nothing. It was just a normal Sunday, and I was annoyed.

But whose fault was it that Mother’s Day hadn’t amounted to anything? Mine. What had I realistically been wishing for, and why hadn’t I just made it happen? As a mom, you only get a couple of days a year to call the shots, and I’d let one slip through my fingers. I was frustrated with myself on so many levels.

With those feelings of disappointment still fresh in my mind, my husband and I considered our Father’s Day plans. He suggested we do the short drive down to Galveston, Texas, on the coast, to take the kids to a pier filled with rides and carnival food and games.

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Pleasure Pier

Fine with me. Spending the day dripping sunscreen-smeared sweat and sticking to the scorching seats of the kiddie rides wasn’t the way I wanted to be celebrated, but this was his day.

Turns out, my husband had the right idea.

Sure, it was hot. Sure, it was a long, exhausting day. But we had so much fun!

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The one picture of me from the day :)

About midway through Father’s Day, I stood outside the bumper car rink, watching A squeal with delight each time her little car tapped into another, and something clicked in my head: This was the new “fun.”

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Fun is watching my kids ride the carousel with daddy over and over. Fun is sharing a sweaty kiss with my wonderful husband between turns on the tiny trucks the girls made him ride. Fun is enjoying the water view at lunch over the din of the kids’ chatter.

And all that “fun” put things into perspective for me.

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I may not get to be top-priority while we have little kids in our house, even on Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day may not be a day of pampering and quiet solitude as an introvert like me might prefer, but that’s not what the day is really about anyway.

At this stage of life, the celebration is never really about us, but that’s okay, because Mother’s Day is actually about them: the kids.

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It’s a holiday about how their presence in our lives has made us the snot-wiping, booboo-kissing, silly-song-maker-uppers that we are. We’re everything to them, and they’re everything to us. And a celebration of that relationship doesn’t happen at the spa, without them.

It happens in those moments of parenthood when we realize we’re having just as much fun as the kids, because standing in the hot sun snapping photos of them riding the bumper cars to their heart’s delight is WAY better than anything else we could be doing on “our” special day.

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2 thoughts on “What Father’s Day Taught Me about Mother’s Day

  1. Your children are so fortunate to have parents who have the insight to enjoy these tender years. They seem like they’ll never end when you’re in the midst of them, but wait ten years and you’ll miss much about this time. Treasure this time with your children, it will fly by…truly.

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