It might just be exactly what she needs to hear.
What we really need on Mother’s Day—even more than a sweaty fistful of dandelions from the back yard, although thank you so much for that, dear—is a little encouragement from a fellow mom. A verbal high five from someone who also has peanut butter in her hair. So this week (no, it doesn’t have to be on Sunday), try one of these on a deserving friend.
1. I saw [her child's name here] on the playground yesterday, and she was being so sweet to a younger kid. Or: “She had such nice manners when I said hello at school drop off.” Or, “I can't believe how patient he is in the grocery store cart!” All of these are lovely—and indirect—ways of saying, "You're doing a good job." We hope our children will be kind, well-behaved citizens when we're not there to remind (uh, threaten) them. Having someone witness it in the wild? That's the best. My 5-year-old spends a large portion of our time together with her hands on her hips and the benevolence of a honey badger. When someone tells me that they saw her being nice to her brother or holding the door open without being asked, I think, "They've got the wrong kid." I mean I think, "She is listening. It's not all in vain."
2. I always think of you when I... Put sunscreen on the kids—the one you told me to buy that doesn't sting their eyes... Tell them that funny joke you taught me that gets them to stop crying when they fall... Use your magic trick for getting pizza grease out of clothes. (Just kidding! That doesn't exist.) Every day, we are surviving on little bits of wisdom we've picked up from other women, whether it's the best inexpensive t-shirt you can pull open to nurse (Old Navy Vintage Style V-Neck, by the way) or a discipline breakthrough. And most of us never tell a friend how much that nugget has saved our sanity. Go do that.
3. I don't like my kids sometimes. And by "sometimes" I mean "almost every morning when they wake me up at 5:55 a.m." Or when my two year old says dinner is "gross." And no, I'm not going to call a friend on Mother's Day just to say this. But when I'm in the middle of a conversation, I'll certainly admit it. We all should. You can love your family and not like them all the time, and you're not alone in that.
4. I left enchiladas on your doorstep. A friend of mine once texted me in the middle of the day to say that she was dropping off a broccoli and rice casserole for dinner for my family—for no reason—and would 4:30 or 5 be OK? I cried. There may be nothing more loving than the practical gift of a meal. Yes, this requires a little work, but, oh, the payoff. We take food to new moms, but those who've been in the game for a few years are no less frazzled. If you're cooking something you can easily double, do it, and make a busy friend's day.
5. You're doing it right. Your child wore a bathing suit to school today? Awesome. You packed turkey that smelled a tiny bit funky? He'll live. You're considering adult diapers for the kid you swear will never be potty trained? Call me. Also, could you bring me some enchiladas?