Okay...I confess, I haven't always felt this way. And I know there are many others who don't, for a multitude of reasons. But the surprising truth is that even lots of mothers, ones who have a blessed life with the children they desire, spend Mother's Day in stifled or open discontent.
In fact, one might justifiably summarize Mother's Day as a day for men to walk around on eggshells and women to whine and be disappointed. I know that sounds horrible, but I've just had too many experiences over the years, experiences that unfortunately, highlight this darker side of what should be a day of celebration. It’s a common scene to hear a bunch of women describing their Mother’s Day woes. I grew to expect such woes. I grew to believe them—nobody really appreciates us! If they did—if they really, truly loved us—they’d get it right!
I had high hopes my first few years as a mother. Finally, my time and tears would be acknowledged! Finally, all the power-struggles and potty-training woes would be put in the past as my children and husband sang my praises! So, when it turned out to not be a day of perfection presented to me on a platter, I felt the whiny Mother’s Day syndrome give me a gentle tug. For 364 days a year, aren’t I pretty much presenting them with a perfect platter of love and service? Can't I be on the receiving end for just one day? Isn't that what this day was about?
Alas, the temptation to get mad, be annoyed, or take offense lurked in every corner. It's amazing how many things we as women can find inconsiderate if we give it a shot. We get mad if our husband doesn't have enough forethought to help the kids present us with magical scrapbook-worthy cards, or if we don't get breakfast in bed, or if we do get breakfast in bed and the bacon was overcooked, or if we aren't gifted a nap in the afternoon or a long shower by ourselves in the morning, or if we are given a potted flower that will only increase our "things to keep alive" workload, or if we still have to change a diaper, or if our husband doesn't give us chocolates, or if he tries to make us fat by giving us chocolates, or if someone tells a story of a wonderful mother (which is obviously only meant to emphasize our failings), or if nobody tells a story about how wonderful mothers are (which obviously means they don’t value mothers), or if the children still demand our attention, or if, or if, or if...
Seriously!? Who wants to be in the path of these mothers on Mother's Day! No matter what our families do, they cannot win, especially our poor husbands. In comparison, we've got it made, ladies! On Father's Day, we make them a root beer float and rub their shoulders and they're good, for real good. Not just the feigned, "Of course I'm good—but you better make my day perfect or you lose—good." As Mothers, we have great potential to make this day a nightmare for everyone else, and sadly, ourselves as well.
So, listen up, moms: I'm sorry to break it to you, but your perfect day ain’t gonna happen. You're a mother. Your kids aren't going anywhere. And as hard as fathers try, they can't perfectly replace mothers, even for a day. In fact, there is no better reminder of our inexpendable role as mothers than the utter impossibility of "a day off" on Mother's day.
In an effort to cope with this reality, I got to the point where I told myself to expect nothing, to remain indifferent, that way I wouldn't be disappointed. Great attitude, right? It actually was slightly better. At least I was no longer spending the day stifling annoyed disappointment. But it certainly wasn't a day I looked forward to. I knew there had to be a better way. So, after a few years and some trial and error, I finally started getting it right. It has finally become a day of rejoicing and happiness.
I have realized Mother's Day isn't a day for me to expect praise, service, & gifts—though if they come, I gratefully accept them. And sure, my role as daughter to my own mother may be to praise, honor, and give gifts to her. And the role of my children and husband is perhaps to do likewise. But I decided to stop micromanaging in my brain what it was they were supposed to be doing for me, and how they were supposed to be doing it for me, and ask myself the question: What is MY role, as THE mother?
That’s right, I’m saying that WE, as mothers, also have a responsibility on this day. If we want a day of joy and celebration, by all means, why don't we throw away all the broken egg shells and take the lead? Let's celebrate this incredible gift we have been given! We are mothers! We have given life! We are the engine that keeps our homes running, the oil that greases that engine when things get hard, the nuts, bolts, and power of that engine. We’ve all seen what happens to our homes and families when step away or tune out, even just for an hour...that just shows how amazing we are! Not only that, but how amazing is the man that made us a mother and plays an equally important role to our children? And how amazing are these children that have made us a mother...talk about sheer, breath-taking beauty. Even if the beauty is sometimes burdensome, not one of us would trade the privilege of being their mother for anything else in the world.
So, bring it on! Bring on the burnt bacon, the potted flower, the dirty diaper, and the perfect mother talk! Let's rejoice in the husband who can't cook bacon, but knows how to wrestle with our kids and bring giggles into our home! Let's rejoice in a beautiful potted flower, even if it's just for a day! Let's allow ourselves a full-fledged cute attack from the tiny little patootie behind that dirty diaper! And let's strive to be our best selves while rejoicing in the successes of other mothers!
I know...even as I type this, I am tempted to roll my eyes. I realize that to live in such a state of elation for long is perhaps unsustainable. But can’t we at least try to do it as often as possible? Can’t we try to gift ourselves some optimism and rejoicing, at least for one day? Whether or not this is a day of dread, annoyance, indifference, or celebration—really, it’s completely up to us.
Let's say, "I'm good," and mean it. Let's be more than good, let's be awesome! And happy. And grateful. Let’s not make this a day that our families dread and that we use to be a victim. Let's spend the day rejoicing in the blessings of being a mother instead if trying to escape them. And if that shower or sleep or five minutes of silence does come, by all means, let's live it up!