Every time Mother’s Day comes around, I can’t help but think back to the time my youngest made me a wordle-a configuration of words going this way and that, in various colors and sizes. She was much littler then. She used words like mommy and happy and funny and silly, but included an extra little word most mommies wouldn’t expect to see on a card from her little darling.

And so, it caught my attention. The word was in teeny tiny letters, four to be exact–trying to hide in the midst of all the other glorious words; words that would certainly make any mom smile, maybe even cry.

It said m-e-a-n, mean.

My husband thought it was funny, as did I. We still think it’s funny. But needless to say, the wordle never competed for a displayed spot in our home. Instead, it was tucked away in a file drawer, only to be forgotten, except it never actually was.

Who wants to be known for being mean, especially as a mom? That’s the one thing I try to avoid the most, and at [least 10,000] times, I fail. I’m not purposefully mean, more like unintentionally unkind, like don’t even tell me that project is due tomorrow! or that you lost the permission slip-the one I actually signed on time! Thankfully we are out of the put on your shoes now before I lose it for the umpteenth time.

Being a mom isn’t the easiest relationship on the planet, and not to make excuses, but sometimes us moms can appear to be the least fun. I wrote a little poem about it.

Sunscreen and veggies.
Life jackets and baths.
One scoop of ice cream.
Arms and leg pads.
Cover your mouth.
Say excuse me, please.
Take off those socks!
Put on a long sleeve.
Be nice to each other.
Stop having a fit!
Really?! Are you serious.
Go flush your . . .
toilet; go flush the toilet.

Being a nag… I mean, mother (not mean mother) may be one of the hardest jobs, but I still feel blessed to experience all the things that go along with being one, except for dirty socks, sibling rivalry and unflushed toilets.

Unfortunately, the year of the wordle isn’t the only Mother’s Day memory I try to block out.

I’ve had years where my kids haven’t had to point out my meanness, or carelessness I should say. I was good at showing them myself–like the time we went on a family picnic and played a friendly game of ball. My oldest daughter, only eight or nine at the time, gently pitched the ball and I hit it hard. A line drive. Right up the middle. Of her face.

We spent the rest of Mother’s Day in the ER.

And then there was the year we had a nice little BBQ at my sister-in-laws home. This time no bats or balls, just an unsupervised son. He had just learned to walk but hadn’t mastered the stairs. I was too busy not paying attention (yes, you read that right) when my not-even-toddler son stepped out the door and straight down the steps where his head met the concrete and all eyes met mine. We have lovely family photos, in case I do forget.

So whenever the annual day comes around, it reminds me to brush up on my mothering skills, to be more attentive and especially more kind. I am also reminded how much I am loved–by warm hugs and flowers, cold eggs and dry toast . . . and most importantly a card void of that four letter word. This year, anyhow.