I am soooo excited for today’s post because I have the privilege to have a guest contributor! I “met” Tiffany dos Santos a few months ago through Instagram and a mutual love for Coffee + Crumbs, and we’ve been following each other on social media ever since. Tiffany has a beautiful heart for her family, and you can see it so clearly in her humble, honest and beautiful writing and photography. She makes you feel like you’ve known her for years and has a way of encouraging your soul that I absolutely love.
I asked Tiffany to share her reflections on Mother’s Day, and I'm so thankful for the chance to feature her writing! To check out more of what she's up to, make sure to follow her on Instagram (@sheseeksjoy).
(Of course, I couldn’t help but include a recipe with the post, too, so enjoy a cold glass of Blueberry + Cardamom Sparkling Lemonade this Mother’s Day weekend!)
I was asked to write something for Mother's Day. "Sure!" I responded. "I've got this!"
But really, I don't think I do.
See, I don't have a mom to celebrate on this day. I haven't for a while – fourteen years to be exact. I remember that last Mother's Day she was alive. I handed her a copy of Love You Forever and she cried. "I'm sorry I wasn't a better mom, Tiffany," she told me. She had reason. A big chunk of my childhood was spent living with other families – her friends, my friends, others who were capable of caring for my brother and me. She had struggles…serious struggles.
"Mom," I replied, "You may not have given me what everyone else had, but you gave me your best, and that makes you the best mom for me."
It was all truth.
Then I stopped celebrating Mother's Day because, well, why celebrate when you don't have a mother around anymore? It just became another day on the calendar – not a sad day, not a mad day…just a day. To study, to go grocery shopping, to awkwardly answer when people asked, "Did you get your mom a gift yet?" No. No, I didn't. But don't worry; it's under control.
So I don't have experience from that perspective.
Now I am a mother. But I am a new-ish mother. As people like to point out, I only have one child. So I'm not really a mother, because I don't know the tiredness they know, the balancing act that goes on with more little bodies needing your constant attention, the sibling rivalry to be dealt with. Nope. I don't know any of that. I guess I'm like a half-mother, if people's words count for anything – someone who has a taste of it but still gets freedom during naptime. (Because, you know, that's obviously what defines a mother. Sorry, did you see my eye roll? Oops.)
But I get it. Really, I do. I am terrified of that full-mother position. Of multiple kids needing me in the middle of the night. Of juggling screaming toddlers with screaming newborns. That sounds overwhelming, oh so overwhelming. I am sure it is also wonderful and magical and perfect in its own way. I know that when my time comes, I will think back to when life was so much easier – and what the heck did I have to complain about with one?! That, however, is not my reality today. So I don't have experience from that perspective, either.
Really, who am I to talk about “motherhood” on this all important day celebrating moms?
A mother. Only of one, but a mother nonetheless.
The child of a mother. An imperfect and challenged mother, who loved me with all of her heart, the way mothers do.
A friend, who hears the fears of doing it wrong and celebrates the triumphs that come along in this journey.
A teacher, who listens to what your kids say about you when you aren't around – and trust me, it's better than you think.
I may be a little fresh in this game, I may not have the life experience of others or have my own mother to call for advice, but I am qualified. Qualified to say:
Mama, you are doing great. You truly are. No one can love them like you do. No one can keep pace with your hopes and prayers for them. No one can compete with you for who is the most beautiful person in their world.
So again I tell you, you are doing great. They may forget to get you a gift this year, or they may shower you with all you could ask for, but if you really want proof of how you are doing, look into their eyes. I am sure you will see your own love reflected back. That deep and flawed and intense and perfect love that burns within you even when you want to scream for just some peace and quiet. That love. That's all the proof you need. As I told my own mom 14 years ago, you are doing your best – and that makes you the best mom for them.
No matter what Mother's Day brings, whether a big celebration or a quick run for more coffee just to survive, know this, trust this: you are doing great. And I, along with those precious little faces looking up at you, applaud you.
Tiffany dos Santos records her thoughts and pictures of her journey in motherhood at @sheseeksjoy. In her free time, she can be found teaching, cooking, writing and shooting pictures. Oh, and she's a mom...so her free time consists of laundry, dishes and receiving sweet, sweet snuggles.
Blueberry + Cardamom Sparkling Lemonade
Yields about 6 servings
1 (heaping) cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
4-6 cups seltzer water*
Add blueberries, water, sugar and cardamom to a small saucepan. Turn on medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved and the mixture comes to a boil. Turn heat to low and let simmer for about 5 more minutes, or until the blueberries have broken down and the mixture gets slightly syrupy.
Remove from heat and allow the syrup to cool completely. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, if desired. (I usually skip this because I don't mind the blueberry pieces in the drink.)
In a large pitcher, stir together the blueberry syrup and lemon juice. Add seltzer and ice. Stir gently. Garnish with fresh blueberries and lemon slices.
*You can adjust the amount of seltzer to make the lemonade the strength you prefer. I usually prefer a bit more seltzer, but adjust it to your taste. You can also use regular water for a non-carbonated lemonade.