If Only God Would Give Me a Sign!  M is for the Million Things She Gave Me…

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by Linda M. Potter

Mother’s Day, 2013

Dear Favorite Advice Column Guru,

It’s me again — the forgotten mother whom nobody appreciates. Here I am sitting by the phone on Mother’s Day, waiting for calls of love and gratitude from my three children — who clearly owe me at least that much for years of unconditional devotion and self-sacrifice. Yes, I’ve been told that expectations only set us up for disappointment. (I do watch Dr. Phil at least once a week.) I realize I must learn to accept that it’s a mother’s job to martyr herself for her children. After all, love is never having to say you’re sorry… for not calling, not sending a Hallmark Card and/or not showing up at the front door with a bouquet of fresh-cut daisies on this classic May day of mother appreciation. Sadly, all that remains of the unconditional love my children once showed me is the 30-year old floppy cloth doll with the blonde rag wig holding a sign that reads, “Best Mom.” And, frankly, she’s looking a little bedraggled these days. Help!

Sadly,

Pamela PoorMe

There’s nothing quite like our relationship with our children. We love them; we support them; we encourage them to “launch” somewhere between ages 18 and 21, and then we cry ourselves to sleep for months after they’re gone.

Even though we know our kids need to move on, we still cherish small reminders of those early days when they considered us the center of their universe. I particularly treasure all the precious art work my little ones produced for me in elementary school – the pictures that had hearts all over them and the word “MOM” written in adorably clumsy letters smack dab in the middle of the pastel colored sheet of construction paper. They remind me of a time when I absolutely knew my three children loved and appreciated me unconditionally.

Recently, I waxed nostalgic with my now adult son (an aerospace engineer) about those precious drawings and, although he wasn’t willing to create another crayon masterpiece for me, he offered to send me a personalized schematic of the tail section of a Boeing 737— decoratively enhanced with a rainbow of magic marker colors. I was tempted to take him up on it.

It’s not really that surprising that on important “mom” occasions like Mother’s Day and birthdays (both ours and theirs) we find ourselves wishing our kids still needed us and, at the very least, remembered how important we once were in their lives. Hopefully, we’re not wallowing in the self-pity of a Pamela PoorMe, but her lamentations serves as a reminder of how easily we can lose perspective when our heart is hurting.

We all need to be loved and appreciated. It’s not a weakness; it’s simply an acknowledgement of what it means to be human. In 1943, psychologist, Dr. Abraham Maslow proposed a hierarchy of human needs that showed love and appreciation as something we had to have in our lives in order to fully realize our potential and achieve self-actualization. Like it or not, we may actually be “hard-wired” to need both love and acknowledgement by the people in our lives.

But, as much as we love to be remembered on these special days, we can’t forget that this is a reciprocal universe. It’s not just about receiving; it’s also about giving. You may want to receive validation on Mother’s Day if you’re a mom or on Father’s Day if you’re a dad, but what are we prepared to give back in return. Do we also show heartfelt appreciation for our own parents? Do we reach out to the children who made us moms and dads in the first place?

I personally am able to brag that I was actually born on Mother’s Day. But, since Mother’s Day is always celebrated on the second Sunday of May, and my birthday, May 9, can fall on any day of the week depending on the year, the two holidays don’t always line up. Yet, every year on Mother’s Day, at 8:00 a.m. Chicago time, I would receive an early morning wakeup call from Mom, wishing me a happy birthday and thanking me for all the Mother’s Days she’d been able to celebrate because I came into her life. I was her first child and the best Mother’s Day gift a mom could ever receive, she’d always tell me. We’d talk and reminisce for several minutes. Then, later that day, it would be my turn to call her, thanking her for being the loving mom I’d grown to admire.

Maybe this year, rather than drowning our sorrows in virgin Mimosas before church on Sunday, May 12, we may want to consider calling our kids and thanking them for the love they’ve brought to our lives. And, if we’re not moms, I’ll bet there’s a niece, a nephew, or someone else out there who’s given you at least a few things to smile about over the years. It’ll be your gift to them and a gift to yourself. There’s no better way to celebrate any day than to give and receive love.

Linda M. Potter is a writer, a popular speaker, the editor of BellaSpark Magazine, and the author of If Only God Would Give Me a Sign! available at , Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and selected book stores. You can contact her at <linda@lindampotter.com>.