Five unexpected moments that make me happy as a mother

In honour of Mother's Day on Sunday, happiness writer Astrid shares the unexpected gifts of motherhood that secretly melt her heart.

Parents carrying children on their shoulders outdoors

My kids building their own bond makes me so happy as a mother (Photo by Getty Images).

There are the obvious things about motherhood that I love — the milestone moments, the bedtime snuggles, the adorable Mother’s Day crafts. But becoming a mom has opened me up to the smaller, lesser-known joys of parenting — the moments that make my heart thump an extra beat or trigger tears seemingly out of nowhere.

In honour of celebrating Mother’s Day, here are five gifts my children give me that I’m truly happy for — though I’ll take the Popsicle-stick frames too:

1. They get sick
Sure it can be messy. Sure, it can throw my workday into a tizzy. But what I love is how much they need me when they’re sick. It gives me an excuse to baby them, cuddle them and dote on them all day long — something I don’t get to do as much anymore now that they’re older.

2. They let me read with them
Maybe this shouldn’t be so surprising — after all, my husband and I are both avid readers — but it’s about more than the reading. While my daughter and I are deep into the Little House on the Prairies series, what I love is how connected we are at the end of the day during reading — she snuggles up while taking in half pint’s adventures and/or brushes and braids my hair. She asks me questions about pioneer life and we may slip into more talk about her day. Clearly the books are a gateway to connecting.

3. They become more independent
As any parent knows, letting go isn’t easy. Whether it’s wrapping up breastfeeding or driving your child to university, I too struggle with my kids pushing more and more to let go and do things independently. And though it’s tough, there’s a pride in knowing that they’re ready to start letting go too.

4. They’re developing their own relationship
Recently we were at someone’s house where a dish was served up that didn’t look so appealing to my daughter and son. What I caught was a look that went between them. A wide-eyed, ‘What are we going to do about this dish?’ look that flashed across the table. As an older sister myself, I recognized that ‘we’re in this together’ sentiment between my kids and had to look away to stifle a smile.

5. They love me back 
Sounds silly I know. But for years I’ve doted on them, telling them they’re the best kids in the world, how much I love them and all the gooey love a mom lays on her kids. But the older they get, the more heartfelt expressions of love I find coming back at me. They squeeze me as hard as their skinny arms can manage and tell me how I’m the greatest mom in the world. When I recently injured my knee running, they showered me with homemade cards and their favourite toys to console me. I go away for an afternoon and I come home to a vase full of dandelions.

It’s the stuff that makes my heart full and my eyes teary.

Tell me, is there anything your kids unknowingly do that makes your heart melt?