Becoming a mom made me love Mother’s Day again

Dear Madelyn,

Growing up, I loved Mother’s Day. It was an excuse to draw pictures for my own mom, a reason to ride my bike around the neighborhood and find freshly picked flowers for her. I didn’t know that the flowers I picked — usually dandelions and Queen’s Anne’s lace — were actually weeds. Mom never let on. She treated every gift I gave her as though it was the best.

“You made my whole day!” she’d say.

After my mom passed away, I hated Mother’s Day. From age 11 on I tried to avoid it — which is nearly impossible, given all the Mother’s Day ads that seem to start appearing earlier and earlier each year, and the mother-daughter photos that flood my Facebook feed. For a long time the holiday was symbolic of what I didn’t have, a reminder of the void that gnawed at me from within.

Then you came along.

This is you last weekend, just before you went into the pool for the first time. You were crying, but it almost looks like you're laughing!
This is you last weekend, just before you went into the pool for the first time. You were crying, but it almost looks like you’re laughing!

This Mother’s Day feels so different. I’ve gotten cards and gifts and I’m going out for a Mother’s Day brunch with you and Dad. Instead of thinking about being a motherless daughter, I’m in awe of the fact that I’m your mom.

I’m a mom! I’m actually a mom! And you, all 12 pounds of you, are my precious daughter. You’re only three months old, but you’ve changed my life in so many ways and have already taught me so much.

Here are a few things I’ve learned and observed since becoming your mom:

  • Becoming a mom doesn’t make me miss my own mom any less. If anything, it makes me miss her more. But since becoming your mom, the void doesn’t feel as deep or as dark as it once did. I’m lucky to have lots of maternal figures in my life, which has also helped.
  • I don’t think there’s one word that accurately sums up the complexities of motherhood. It’s a continuous mix of grit and grace, pride and patience, humility and humor.
  • Before I became a mom, I never realized how much time I’d spend talking about poop — and washing it off clothes, swings, and car seats. I’ve become a breeding ground for bodily fluids, and I’m surprisingly ok with it.
  • Breastfeeding was initially one of the biggest challenges of early parenthood. It was painful, and your difficulty latching left me feeling frustrated, especially when you would cluster-feed. But we grew and learned together. Now you latch better and I’m more patient. Feeding is bonding.
  • You gave me the best surprise Mother's Day gift -- a painted butterfly flower pot with the sweetest message: "I'm as lucky as I can be -- the best mom in the whole world belongs to me." If you look closely, you'll see that the butterfly wings are actually your footprints! Thanks to you, Madelyn, for my first Mother's Day gift. It made my whole day! (And thanks to our wonderful nanny for being so thoughtful and creative.) 😊
    My first Mother’s Day gift was a painted butterfly flower pot with the sweetest message: “I’m as lucky as I can be — the best mom in the whole world belongs to me.” If you look closely, you’ll see that the butterfly wings are actually your footprints! A little birdie must have told you that I love butterflies because they remind me of my mom. Thank you, sweet Madelyn, for the gift (and thanks to your wonderful nanny for helping you with it). It made my whole day!

    Whoever came up with the saying, “I slept like a baby last night” probably didn’t have a baby. Similarly, as I read somewhere recently, whoever said “don’t cry over spilled milk” probably never breastfed.

  • You’ve made me realize that not all cries are created equal.
  • You’ve taught me what it means to be totally responsible for another human being 24/7. I used to think my Gramz was being insensitive when she would say: “Your life is not your own when you have a child.” Now I understand what she meant.
  • You’ve motivated me to set boundaries as a working mom — to stay focused at work and be fully present with you and your dad at home — so that I can fulfill both roles. I don’t always succeed, but I’m trying.
  • You’ve given me a confidence boost by showing me I’m capable of calming you down and making you smile. Nurturing you didn’t come naturally at first, but now it’s second nature.
  • You’ve helped my heart grow. Every time I see your dad care for you, I’m reminded of why I fell in love with him. (I’ll probably embarrass you with my cheesiness as you grow older. Just remember it’s fine to be cheesy as long as you’re genuine, too.)
  • You’ve deepened my appreciation for silence and the rare moments when I have uninterrupted time to myself.
  • You’ve taught me that it’s ok to mourn the loss of free time, date nights, and sleep when you’re a new mom. More importantly, you’ve shown me that not all losses are tragic or permanent — and that what we gain is often far better than what we lose.

With you in my life, sweet Madelyn, I’ve gained so much. I have so many reasons to feel grateful this Mother’s Day — and every day. Time with you and dad is always cause for celebration.



Celebrating the fact that you're three months old!
Celebrating the fact that you’re three months old!

Published by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

Mallary is a mom of two young kiddos -- Madelyn and Tucker. Mallary absolutely loves being a mom and often writes about the need to find harmony when juggling motherhood and work. Mallary is the Assistant Director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin, where she manages the Center's various programs related to distance learning, freedom of expression, and digital journalism. Previously, she was Executive Director of Images & Voices of Hope and Managing Editor of The Poynter Institute’s media news site, Mallary grew up outside of Boston and graduated from Providence College in Rhode Island. In 2015, she received a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University. She now lives in beautiful Austin, Texas, with her kids, husband Troy and cat Clara. She's working on a memoir, slowly but surely. You can reach her at

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