Everyone says it but no one can truly understand until it happens to them. Until the moment that you meet your first child for the very first time, you just can’t imagine that it’s possible to love something or someone THAT much. (You also can’t imagine how exhausting it’s going to be – but that’s another story!) Even after the first one I worried each time I was pregnant – I mean, I already had a child or children that I was so completely in love with – was I going to have enough love for another? But then came the labor and delivery and when I looked into that tiny newborn’s face any doubts I had instantly evaporated and it was love at first sight. Did I really make them?
Of course, mothering does have its downside. At times it can feel like the most exhausting, thankless, unappreciated job there is. But no matter how tired, frustrated, or taken for granted we may feel, is there anything that can bring a smile to our face faster than hearing “I love you, mama”? All the sleepless nights and tantrums are forgotten when you feel the warm embrace of a toddler.
Here are my top ten favorite things about being a mother:
There is some debate as to whether or not co-sleeping is best for babies. I believe that it’s a personal choice, but for me sleeping with my newborns was a natural choice. I found that we both got more sleep that way, and as my kids have grown I have had pretty much an open door policy in regards to them coming into my bed. My husband calls it ‘musical beds’ but I can’t help it – I just love snuggling up to my little ones. Despite what some people believe I’ve found that co-sleeping doesn’t spoil their sleeping habits for life. My older boys have outgrown me now, but as long as my youngest wants to come to come in and cuddle with me, he’s welcome. There is nothing I love more than waking up to his angelic little face next to mine. And the best thing about co-sleeping? On cold winter nights in Canada, kids make the best hot water bottles for my icy feet!
2. Children’s Books and Movies
I have a confession to make: I never really grew up. Even before I had children, two of my favorite movies were Aladdin and The Little Mermaid, and I’ve always had a passion for children’s books (working at Ganz, writing stories about Webkinz for Webkinz Newz is my ideal job!) I have read the Harry Potter books countless times and am the first to read every new young adult novel. Every time a new animated movie comes out, I am the first one dragging my kids to the cinema. Sometimes without much luck – when I tried to get someone to come to ‘Puss in Boots’ with me this summer, my six year old (the youngest of three boys) told me, “Mama, don’t you know I like Dr. Who and James Bond?” (whatever – I forced him to watch it anyway and he loved it.) Being a mother lets me feed my passion without people giving me strange looks at the theatre.
3. Playing Games
This is really an extension of #2. Having children keeps you in touch with your inner child. Whether it’s board games, Lego, crafting or video games (I love them all!) once you have kids of your own you get spend as much time as you like doing all the things you enjoyed as a child!
4. They Don’t Hold a Grudge
Okay, I don’t know if this one is because I grew up in a family of girls and am raising a family of boys, but I am amazed at how quickly they can forgive. Whether they have just been disciplined for bad behavior, or I’ve been shrieking like a harpy, trying to herd everyone out the door on time, the minute the crisis has passed they seem to have moved on and are happily smothering me with affection. They seem to accept that punishment, or my occasional frustration with them, is just part of life and they don’t let it get them down. I wish I could take a page from their book and be so resilient when my husband does something to upset me.
5. Homemade or Hand Chosen gifts
I love getting gifts that my children have created themselves. My most treasured Mother’s Day present is a touching poem by one of my sons, but I adore each ornament, drawing or sculpture that comes home and as my kids get older, they love having their earlier masterpieces to look back on. Having said that, I’m also constantly amazed by the care and thought that they put into choosing store bought gifts, either for me or their dad, a friend or someone else in the family. A couple of years ago, my middle son wanted to get my sister a ring for Christmas. We went to the shop and he looked at all the rings before choosing one that he said was ‘her style.’ And he was right – it was her style! She loves it and loves telling people where she got it almost as much.
6. Common Interests
As my children grow, I love discovering the things we have in common. Like me, my oldest son loves reading. My middle son has his dad’s passion for astronomy and all three boys share their father’s love of music. Sometimes it just takes a TV show to bring us together: getting the latest Dr. Who series DVD in the mail is a big event in our family, and I am thrilled that my older boys share my love of topical comedy like the Daily Show or Last Week Tonight. It also helps that they are growing into well-rounded, open-minded, socially-conscious young men – we can find ourselves discussing politics, climate change and global conflict. I find that the older and more mature they get, the more enjoyable it is being able to discuss our shared interests.
7. Watching Them Discover Their Passion
When you’re a new parent it seems that nothing could be more entrancing than simply watching your newborn sleep, but it’s amazing just how much more fascinating kids get when they actually start to grow and do things! It makes me so happy to watch my children discover their strengths and run with them. From my oldest son rocking a drum solo in front of the whole school, to my middle son is building intricate Lego structures at the age of three, to my youngest son bustin’ a move to the Dora theme song, seeing your children doing something they love is truly one of the greatest joys of parenting.
8. Family Time
Some of my favorite times with my family are those that involve the least effort. Relaxing by the pool watching my kids play, or chilling on the beach at the cottage are the times I consider truly magical. There’s no need for expensive video game consoles or jet-setting travel, just a sense of togetherness as the kids splash around under the summer sun, and the feeling that we have all the time in the world.
9. My Kids Make Me Appreciate My Own Mother
Of course, my kids take me for granted sometimes, as I took my parents for granted when I was young. But there is nothing like the joys and trials of having children of your own to make you realize just how much your parents gave you and gave up for you. How touching is it to think when you are snuggling up to your little ones that your parents looked at you with that same sense of wonder and love?
10. Unconditional Love
No matter how tired I am, or crappy my day has been, I always know that when I walk in the door my children will welcome me with smiles and hugs. And really, what could possibly be better about being a mother than that?