May 7, 2021

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Little acts of love are at the heart of motherhood

Patti LambRecently, a co-worker shared the sweetest photos from her daughter’s first birthday party. She had custom baseball jerseys made for her family with each member’s name and age on the back. And the custom-made cake in the shape of a baseball jersey, along with baseball-themed decorations, added to the charm of the celebration. The invitation came in the form of a tailor-made baseball ticket.

“You are such a great mom,” I told her. I was impressed by all the little details that went into making her daughter’s first birthday so special.

Fast forward to the next week, and I experienced a series of “mom fails.” First, I missed an important email in my junk folder regarding a form I needed to fill out for my daughter’s tennis coach. The next evening after collecting Margaret from practice, I noticed that her big toe was coming through her tennis shoe.

“I suppose I need to get you to the store for some new shoes,” I said.

The third strike came a day later. It was unseasonably warm, and I forgot that the windows were open. I regret that the neighbors heard my tirade about the messy state of the kids’ bathroom when I went to put toothpaste near their sink after returning from the grocery store.

I apologized to one neighbor the next day, joking that I’m out of the running for “Mother of the Year 2021.”

I gave myself a pep talk, allowing myself grace, but also providing some encouragement to do better.

The next morning, I tried to regain some points by tucking a handwritten note into each of my kids’ lunch boxes. Around noon, both Henry and Margaret sent me a text, expressing gratitude for the note and the reminder that they are loved.

“Mama is trying,” I said to myself, in the spirit of redemption.

I saw my son’s work uniform in need of washing, so I laundered and ironed it so it was ready for his shift later that day.

He was pleasantly surprised and said, “That was really thoughtful, and I appreciate it.”

At the end of the week, I tucked a granola bar and some raisins into the side pocket of my daughter’s tennis bag since I realized she had forgotten to take a snack for an away match.

“You don’t know how happy I was to find that in my backpack,” she texted me that evening.

Even though my kids are teenagers now, I’m still learning that motherhood isn’t about perfectly curated parties shared on Facebook. What’s more important are the little things not on display—a text to your son reminding him that you’re praying for his math test; the delivery of your daughter’s lunch box to school when she forgot it in her hurry to catch the bus.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux said, “Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, or even at their difficulty, as the love with which we do them.”

I take comfort in those words.

Motherhood isn’t about the grandiose gestures as much as it is about the consistent reminders to our kids of our love for them, and God’s love for them.

Little acts of love are the building blocks of beautiful—but imperfect—relationships between a mother and her children. We will never be perfect parents, and that’s fine, as long as we love big and keep trying.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there. God is at work in you!

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

Local site Links: