While celebrating a past birthday with friends, we decided to wander the shops of our edgy downtown street. We stepped into one of my favorite places, a shop where vintage artwork popped from every corner and handmade jewelry hung from pegs. I hadn't planned on buying anything, but then I saw it: a pendant necklace that said, "Best Mom Ever."
"Can I buy this for myself?" I chuckled to my friends. Immediately, of course, they all said, "Yes." I took it to the register and paid.
I am my children's only mom, and therein lies a gift beyond any bronze chain, a gift that says no one else can validate nor eradicate what I know to be true.
When I got home, I showed it to my husband. "That's hilarious," he said, and we laughed together. I admit that I felt somewhat like Michael Scott from The Office, who kept a self-purchased "Best Boss Ever" mug on his desk. I know these types of things aren't meant to be purchased by the wearer, but given as a gift. But that necklace was beautiful and seemed like the perfect thing to dress up my frequent outfits of t-shirts and jeans. So why couldn't I get it for myself?
My children are still in the stages where they constantly shower me with love no matter what. They still want to snuggle in the morning and they always want extra hugs at bedtime. I'm still a valuable teammate for checkers, and I do all the good voices when reading their favorite books. "Your kids are great," my family and friends assure me, "and you're a great mom." But those words are just flattery unless I believe them, too.
When my oldest child — an always curious 6-year-old — saw my necklace, he read it out loud. "Best. Mom. Ever." Then he snickered and continued playing. A couple weeks later, he asked me why I wear it. "I like it," I said. "Do you agree with it?" "No," he said, "because sometimes we do bad things and you yell at us." I nodded, impressed with his honesty, and kissed him goodnight.
And he's right. I yell sometimes, frustrated over the little things. I can be grumpy every morning and snippy in the afternoons, and I question anyone's authority to speak to my parenting strategies. I know that no matter how rightful and loving my motherly discipline is, it doesn't always come out in the calm manner I know it should.
No, when compared to many other moms, I would likely not win the title that my necklace boasts. Still, I wear it because I have three children whom I love. Three self-purchased red words hang over my heart and speak a truth that goes beyond opinion or anecdotes. This truth is something that may take years to develop, but something that seeps positivity into all the minutes I spend with my children.
I am my children's only mom, and therein lies a gift beyond any bronze chain, a gift that says no one else can validate nor eradicate what I know to be true. I am the best if I choose to take on the title.