As mothers, we love our children—and being a mom has many rewards. But Mother’s Day is a flawed concept. Mothers should be appreciated, but a day dedicated to this simply doesn’t work. It may be Mother’s Day, but we still need to be mom; we still need to do our duties, but we presumably are supposed to spend the day as we wish and also be shown appreciation for the things we do each day. This while living with the people who take it for granted that Mom tends to their needs—it’s what we do every day. So how is this possible? How do you shut it off for an entire day?
The old saying “kids will be kids” holds true, and Mother’s Day is no exception. Children’s behaviors don’t change just because it’s your day. In fact, their behaviors may seem amplified because it’s Mother’s Day. I recall many Mother’s Days spent breaking up squabbles and being extra angry that the kids would drag their feet when asked to do a simple task. . . never mind that they are behaving exactly as they normally do, but it’s Mother’s Day, for heaven’s sake! And their attempt to make a big deal out of the day and lavish me with attention through breakfast wears off for them about five minutes into the day, when I finally say, just go play!
But children are not alone in their inability to bring peace to this day. Partners, friends, and family can also fail to please with their well-meaning efforts. For example, my husband turns himself inside out to make Mother’s Day special for me. Every year, he leaps out of bed to make me French toast when all I really want is for him to stay in bed with me. And once the kids are up, he starts ordering them to wish me a happy Mother’s Day and “stop bickering, kids, it’s Mother’s Day!” Somebody usually runs off crying (sometimes even me). In retrospect, it’s pretty hilarious.
But when you stop and look at the big picture, it becomes clearer how fleeting this time is. My realization occurred suddenly and quite publicly while attending my son’s final high school choir concert. Watching him on the stage singing the last song of his high school career, his life suddenly flashed before my eyes. . . that little person marching off to nursery school. . . it felt like yesterday! And I began to cry and the tears came as my heart ached, and my eyes burned clear down my throat. . . and there was nothing I could do to stop it. So I turned my back to the stage and listened to those beautiful voices while I hid my face and cried.
Your experience may be different, but one day you will surely have a moment when you say “where did the time go?” It’s at that moment we realize, the good, the bad, the Mother’s Days, were the best part of our life. We know that on Mother’s Days to come, when our children go off to celebrate their own wives and we’re relegated to the position of obligatory phone call recipient, we would trade any day of self-centered leisure and peace to have those bickering children with their dirty hands and fresh beautiful faces back in our world for just long enough to hug them and savor being Mommy for one more moment.
If Mother’s Day is a challenge for you, it may help to change your perspective!
- Keep it real. A tiger doesn’t change its stripes—your family dynamics will remain the same whether it’s Mother’s Day or not. A sense of humor will come in handy when your children (or partner) make a mess trying to prepare you breakfast. (And if they don’t do something nice for you, that sense of humor is even more important!)
- Plant your own garden. Don’t wait for something special to happen. Spend your day, or even an hour, doing something you love. “Plant your own garden” both literally and figuratively, if that makes you happy. Pick up something for dinner that you want for a change.
- Appreciate today. These are the Mother’s Days you’ll remember. Enjoy your children, make time together walking, baking, or playing a game—and look them in the face so you can be reminded how beautiful they are. And most importantly, thank a special mom in your life.