The Happiest Place on Earth

First bottle in the NICU with my mom cheering us on!
This week, I've been thinking about my mother leading up to Mother's Day.  Memories of my mother and childhood are happy memories for me.  Growing up, home really was the happiest place on earth.  You thought this was going to be about a Disney Theme Park, but I hate to disappoint.  This is not a review of Mickey ears and the Magic Kingdom.

I have fond memories of afternoon picnics in the back yard, eating homemade popsicles, and playing dress up in my mother's room.  My mother devoted her existence to my sister and I.  She cooked dinner every night and made sure we had healthy meals.  Mother read us stories, sang us songs and took us to museum exhibits that she would read about.  Yes, we even had homemade matching outfits that she made for us at times.  And there are the pictures to prove it.  I just don't feel the need to share that here.

My mother was and still is the least self indulgent person that I know.  And now as a mother myself, I get to watch it all over again as she takes care of our little boy.  She rushes out to pick up little plastic dishes that he can easily eat from himself.  She goes and picks up refrigerator magnets that he can enjoy while playing and texts me pictures of him during snack time devouring a banana!

On bed rest at home, knitting for the baby and passing time.
These aren't the things that you are going to see on the news or read about in the paper, but they are the smallest little details that I remember from my childhood that are revisited in my home daily now.  My mom celebrates life daily through her actions and general joy of her life and those around her.

While getting ready for work, I can hear her singing the "Diaper, diaper, diaper" chant as she changes the baby.  And, then says, "Thank you Grammy for changing me" in that familiar sing song voice from my childhood.  Its a happiness that comes from just being here and enjoying life as it comes, being thankful for the littlest of moments and knowing what is important.

I spent a month on best rest before having our baby at 25 weeks.  Mother would come weekly and help me around our home.  It was a scary time in my life.  There she was.  Cheering me on and being adamant that I was going to make it long enough for our baby to be healthy.  She would read me a devotional daily and send me cards in the mail even after she went home.  Never once did she have something else to do.

Three weeks into my bed rest, I was admitted to the hospital where I would stay until I delivered the next week.  She would make the hour drive over each day and help me as needed.  I would tease her some days and ask if she thought she would still be taking care of me at this age.  And happily, she would tell me it was her job.  She is my mother.

We spent six and a half months in the NICU.  My mother continued to devote her existence to us all.  While I worked, she was at the hospital waiting at our son's bed side during the months before we could hold him.  She sat reading her Bible and praying.  Then, after the long journey off the ventilator ended, she was at his bed side changing diapers, holding him and participating in every event she could.  She did these things while moving to a new home so she could help us when we returned, unpacking and maintaining a new life in a new place.

I think that sometimes I'm lost in the fact that motherhood is being able to "get" your child the things that you think he needs or wants.  But, much of motherhood is anticipating what your little one needs and doing it with them as a sheer joy.  My mother revels in our little man rushing about the house practicing his walking or eating all of his brocolli by himself and cheering during every bite.

All the while, she still finds time to mother me.  This week, we will make yet another trip 2 hours away for a doctor's appointment at the pediatric orthopedist.  She will be right there with the both of us.  She will ride in the back seat next to King Diaper and attend to his every need.  She and I will talk going and coming.  We will enjoy lunch and return home after a long day.  It is on these days that she mothers both me and the baby.  We are both tired, but there is still happiness to be had.

Zoo day with my mom!
And why you may ask is this the happiest place on earth?  Because it is the joy of living and enjoying the smallest things in life.  Much of life seems to pass most of us by while in pursuit of vacation time, new clothes or gadgets or even the next planned event in life.  But what is more important that the sweet little life that we are responsible for during that short time in our lives?

Teachers, care givers, mothers, grandparents and many others shape the lives of children daily.  And those moments of walking, laughing, talking and eating can be and should be the happiest times and places on earth.  After all, we have but one life.  Don't wait for a special occasion or moment to celebrate life.  Do it every day and in every moment.  My mother is a testament to that every day.  And that to me, is what its all about.

Have a happy mother's day.  Celebrate big as a mother, with your mother or a mother you love.  Enjoy every minute.  Happiness can be found in everything we do each day, if we only choose to find and enjoy it!