If you love Mother’s Day and are showered with gifts and accolades, that’s wonderful! Enjoy it! Motherhood is absolutely something to be celebrated. It is one of life’s greatest challenges and brings along many of life’s greatest joys.
But if I’m honest, I always approach Mother’s Day with just a little bit of dread. Not because I dislike anything about being a mother – it is absolutely my greatest joy in life. And Mother’s Day is an opportunity for me to honor my Mom, my husband’s Mom, and to reflect on the amazing women who have made my life possible. However, to the extent it is a day where I am supposed to be honored – I find myself feeling a bit anxious.
First, there are all the commercials about bringing Mom breakfast in bed, giving her jewels to match her children’s birth months, and an entire day spent lavishing undivided attention on honoring her. The expectation is set that Mother’s Day is the one day a year when Mom will be hoisted on a pedestal and showered with non-stop tokens of love. However, that doesn’t happen in my household. I’m not trying to garner sympathy – I know I’m loved and valued in other ways. I’m sharing this because I know there are lots of women who feel this way, too, and likely end up feeling like they are not appreciated or deemed “good enough” by their families. Whether you are married to a partner for whom giving gifts is not his love language, or your children are too young to generate gifts themselves and you’d basically have to buy your own gift, or you are parenting your children separate from the other parent who doesn’t consider it important to help the children honor you, it doesn’t really matter. Many Moms experience disappointment on this day. Just know you are not alone.
Second, for so many people, Mother’s Day is a day of grief. Perhaps you’ve recently lost a mother, or a grandmother, or a child. Mother’s Day makes that loss feel so much more real, and heavy. Mother’s Day can leave you longing for one more phone call, one more hug, one more touch. Perhaps you’ve not been able to realize your dream of being a Mom, whether that’s just the way life has unfolded or because you’ve struggled with infertility. It can be incredibly hard to see everyone else experiencing joy on this day while you are suffering a painful and sometimes crushing sense of loss. Just know you are not alone.
For me, the joys of Motherhood are experienced in moments throughout every other day that is not designated as “Mother’s Day.” It’s walking in to wake up my sleepy-headed teenager, when I glance at his face and still see the face of the sleeping toddler, and think quietly, “does he have any idea how much I love him,” before I yell, “WAKE UP!!!”. It’s sitting down to play a game with my adult child, and having a conversation where he shares his insights about philosophy and the language of music. It’s listening to my daughter rehearse her songs for upcoming musicals, being awed by her talent and courage. Every other day besides Mother’s Day, I live in gratitude and see the blessings that Motherhood offers. I do feel seen and appreciated in many ways on many days by my children.
But Mother’s Day feels different. Ugh. Whatever unpleasant feelings may creep into your heart on this day, just remember you are enough. I learned that from my Mom, who is so much more than enough, and for that I am ever thankful.
On this day, there is enough space for grief and a twinge of self-indulgent resentment, as well as for joy, gratitude and appreciation, because life is a beautiful bouquet of it all. And that’s more meaningful than any one day. Happy Mother’s Day to you all!