A few nights ago I had a conversation with Henry about Mother’s Day. I informed him that it was one of my very least favorite holidays. I classify it in the “made up holiday you are required to celebrate so as not to hurt somebody’s feelings” category (along with Valentine’s day).
Mother’s Day to me has not had great memories. While I love my dad dearly, just like any person, he has his flaws. And I hate to say it, but he is terrible about holidays.
I remember growing up and him grouching about “I don’t know why I have to do something for your mom for mother’s day. She’s not my mother!”. Which then led to my mom having a rotten day because nobody did anything for her (well, besides the obligatory handmade craft created at school) and she didn’t get to celebrate doing anything she wanted because she felt obligated to do something for her mom.
Thus the problem with mother’s day. How does one celebrate a day that is supposed to be special for MOM? If she were to do what she wanted, it would seem selfish because if her mom is still around, she needs to do what she wants instead. Grrrr!
I hate mother’s day. I hate it because it’s a holiday that is supposedly set up to celebrate me as a mom, and yet, I feel like I am obligated to try and make it special for our mom’s (both of whom are still alive and kickin’). I don’t want to offend them by not doing something, but the selfish part of me wants the day to be about ME.
So let me tell you about Mother’s Day 2013…
My sweet baby woke up at 5:30. Henry and I were exhausted from a garage sale we had the day before, but he got up to listen to Blake’s complaints, hoping he would fall back asleep. Henry took the baby monitor out to the couch so I could sleep and I thought, “this is great!”
At 6am, my boys walked into my room and woke me from my slumber announcing that Blake was hungry. So I got up and nursed him while Henry went back to bed. Then, trying to be nice, I set a blanket on the living room floor and tried to take a nap while Blake played with a toy. Tried being a key word in that last sentence. Emma was up and out of bed early complaining that I had shut the hall light off. I sent her back to bed until her alarm said it was okay for her to get up (at 7am). Giving up on sleep, I decided to lead the kids into my room to wake up their dad. Yeah… That didn’t go over so well. He just grouched around and laid there like I was torturing him and he was so exhausted and needed sleep.
Now, to be fair, he didn’t say any of that, but I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying “actions speak louder than words”. This was entirely appropriate this morning.
So, after realizing he wasn’t dragging himself out of bed and I wasn’t getting any special “sleep in its Mother’s day” gift, I proceeded to sleepily and grouchily move on with my day.
Let me paint a picture of what I was facing this morning… Before I could make breakfast, I had to clean at least part of the kitchen, because every possible space was cluttered with dirty dishes and the sink was piled full as well. We needed groceries, so there were no quick and easy breakfast foods available to cook. I had to do a load of laundry because I literally had no clothes to wear to church this morning. Henry’s mom and my sister would be coming over later in the day to watch a hockey game, and the couch was covered with books, toys, clothes, and a wet diaper from (hopefully) earlier that morning.
So I started cleaning. On Mother’s Day. While my husband slept in and I was taking care of the kids.
Every time I would go into our room to put something away, he would stir around as though he was waking up, and as soon as I would leave, he would fall back asleep.
I contemplated sitting down on the couch and sharing a decadent piece of leftover chocolate cake with Emma for breakfast. I quickly vetoed that idea because the frosting had dairy products in it and they tend to make Blake sick, so I’m currently on a non-dairy diet while breastfeeding him. I’m pretty sure it’s illegal for mom’s to have to make breakfast on Mother’s day, but I think it’s even more illegal to not feed your children, so I tossed a couple of pieces of toast in the toaster and cut up an apple.
Scrumptious (said sarcastically).
Just as Emma and I finished our breakfast, Henry comes strolling out (after 8) and proceeds to start making himself an omelet. Barely holding back tears, I told him I was still starving, and he kindly offered to make me one as well. (Non-dairy. Ugh. The things we do for our kids!) He then told me “thanks for letting me sleep in a bit this morning!”. Um, I didn’t know that was an option. I wasn’t letting you. I would have taken your place in a heartbeat if I thought I could have!
At some point during breakfast, I started crying. Whenever I cry, Emma sweetly runs to get me a towel so I can dry my tears. She is such an amazing little girl. Blake woke up from his nap, so I had a great chance to cuddle him and cry a bit without the rest of the family to witness my self-pity.
I was hurt. Nobody had even bothered to say happy mother’s day to me. No sleeping in. No breakfast in bed. No scribbly handmade cards. Nothing. Another day of responsibilities while I read a zillion facebook posts about the wonderful things people were doing and getting for Mother’s Day today. I felt like a single person on Valentine’s Day.
But it was even worse than that. I don’t even know how to quite put it in words, but all morning I struggled with my selfish thoughts. My self-centered desires. Wanting everything to be about me and being disappointed when life happened.
Being a mom is hard. I haven’t found the balance between giving of myself for my children and when it’s okay to take a break and do something for me. It makes me feel selfish. I can’t tell my husband I want certain things for mother’s day because then it would have to be done begrudgingly and wouldn’t count.
At least that is how my mind sees it.
So, as I sat at the breakfast table eating my omelet, my sister-in-law sent Henry a text message to tell me happy mother’s day for her. I started crying (again). My sister-in-law, who lives thousands of miles away, was thoughtful enough to say something when my own family hadn’t seemed to even remember. Henry asked Emma if she knew what today was, and I was crying and sarcastically mumbled “it’s make Mommy cry day”. To which she loudly proclaimed to him “It’s Mother’s cry day!” Oh my. The things I am now teaching my daughter.
Being a mom is hard. It took a really rotten day for me to realize that Mother’s Day shouldn’t be all about me. It seems glaringly obvious, but without my husband and kids, I wouldn’t be celebrating this day as a mother.
I am blessed beyond all measure to get to look into the faces of my precious little babies every day. They have brought unspeakable joy into my life. If anything, I should be celebrating them for being allowed the opportunity to be a mother.
And so, this year, a week before Mother’s Day, I’m posting this as a reminder to myself. That Sunday morning, when life happens and we’re late for church, when the kids disobey and I lose my patience, this is what being a mother is. It may always be tough, it will never be perfect, but it will always be worth it.