I think it's natural that holidays mean different things to us at different stages in our lives, but none of them has undergone a more significant change for me than Mother's Day.
When I was a little girl, I commemorated the holiday by bestowing my mom with drawings bedazzled with glue and glitter, macaroni noodle necklaces and other handmade gifts from the heart.
I remember one particular year in grade school that we had been instructed to grow a plant for our mothers weeks in advance. Every morning, someone in my class had the responsibility of watering the little cups by the windowsill, and it seemed like everyone's gift was thriving in time for the big day.
Everyone's, that is, but mine.
Even though I essentially handed her a decorated Styrofoam cup filled with nothing but dirt, my mom acted as if I had given her two dozen long-stemmed roses.
I repaid the favor years later by turning into a teenager who wanted nothing to do with her. She was too hard on me. She didn't understand me. And, oh, the embarrassment if she delved into what I deemed private.
During those years I was forced -- wholly against my will -- to attend brunch on Mother's Day with the rest of my extended family. I'm sure I was a very pleasant table companion filled with sighs, eye rolls and the occasional well-placed scoff.
I came to my senses sometime during college when I realized my mom might actually know a thing or two, and perhaps even be right every once in awhile. I couldn't always make it home for Mother's Day, but I remembered to at least call if I had forgotten to send a card.
After graduation, this funny thing happened. My mom became my best friend. She turned into someone I could not only rely on, but someone whose opinion I valued. Someone who knew exactly what to say whether the news was good or bad.
But it wasn't until I became a mother myself that I really understood and appreciated everything she has done for me.
I've I rocked a screaming baby for hours, changed wet sheets in the middle of the night and wiped away tears while wielding a pink princess Band-Aid. I've located missing stuffed animals, cut food into miniscule pieces and turned a couch into a castle.
Sometimes all before 9 a.m.
And when I feel like I can't possibly give of myself any more, when my patience has long since run out, I call my mom. Most times I just need to hear that it's going to be alright. That I'm doing a good job and my daughter isn't going to be ruined forever if I caved and gave her fruit snacks for breakfast.
Before we hang up, I always end up thanking her. She probably thinks it's for the advice or just for listening, but really it's long overdue for all the years she spent raising me -- years I was too young or stubborn to say so.
This year the day snuck up on me. With a toddler and an 8-week-old in the house, I didn't get a gift together in time to mail it. And I know my mom won't mind or care because she'll understand.
She knows I'll make her proud by raving about a decorated cup of dirt when it comes my way.