Opening up the mailbox as a kid brought such joy.
Would there be a package? A brightly colored card? A handwritten letter with stickers from my friend who lived down the street? Or maybe a thick envelope with five pages of folded up yellow legal pad paper from my church camp pen pal?
I didn’t mind those long, white envelopes with the clear windows. I know my mom and dad used to sigh when I’d bring them in; I didn’t care though. I was looking for the good stuff.
Fast forward 20 years.
Opening up the mailbox doesn’t quite give me that same airy feeling of joy as an adult. Honestly, there are some months when those long white envelopes with those crinkly, clear windows cause dread and anxiety. I now get why my mom and dad weren’t so thrilled to see what I’m sure seemed like heaps of bills.
But the corners of my sometimes-grouchy mom mouth always turn up when I catch the glimpse of a colorful envelope in that bill-keeper of a mailbox.
Usually they are for the boys. My mom is awesome and sends a card to each of them for every imaginable holiday. Michael’s parents are amazing too, sending cards for the holidays along with aunts and great-grandparents. The kids love it, carrying the cards around the house opening and closing them and making the little bears, leprechauns or Cupids dance around the living room.
But when I popped open the mailbox Wednesday there was one lone envelope inside — fuchsia and addressed to little ol’ me.
I recognized the handwriting right away — my mom. Never mind the fact that I’d seen her three days before and I’d see her on Friday and Saturday and maybe even Sunday. She knows how touched I’d be to receive it in the mail. Also, never mind the fact that this not-together-at-all mom hadn’t picked up a gift or a card for her amazing or thoughtful mom yet.
“From the time you were a little girl you’ve given me so many reasons to admire and love you. And watching you as a mom has given me even more. You’re understanding and loving, dedicated and hardworking. Not only that, you’re a fun mom, too. In fact, hearing the kids laugh with you is one of my favorite things in the world. No matter what you’re doing with them, I can see that your kids come first and you’re always giving your best, even on days when it isn’t always easy. I can’t tell you how proud of you I am. I love you for being the amazing daughter you’ve always been and the wonderful mom you are today.”
“It’s the perfect card,” she wrote.
And it was. It was what I needed to hear. The tears were streaming hot down my face. My mom is still proud of me. I’m doing a good job. I’m doing OK. I’m not screwing this whole mom thing up.
Because, let’s be real, even at 35, I still need to hear that.
Don’t you? Don’t we all need to be reminded that we are doing a good job? That someone is proud of us.
In life we can get bogged down with the responsibilities, the stress, the scary — the bills of life. It gets so easy to forget about those brightly-colored envelopes filled with encouraging messages. One way we can help balance that out is by sending more of these “cards” out into the world. We can do this by literally sending cards out or by just letting people know that they are doing a good job.
When I’m at the grocery store and my kids are being … kids … and the person in line behind me gives me a knowing “been there, it’ll get better” encouraging smile, it makes that 5-minute wait a lot easier than when the person behind me glowers with their disapproving look or critiques my parenting skills with the person behind them in line.
Parenting is hard stuff. Find a mom — your mom, your mom friend, a random mom at the park — and tell her she’s doing a great job.
Momma, you’re doing a great job. Thanks!