Happy Mother's Day....or Not


Thank you, Stock Images, for capturing exactly what every moment of my Mother's Day looks like.

So, Mother's Day. We meet again. I'm just putting it front and center-- I've got a lot of feelings about this holiday.

I was beginning to think I was the only one who felt this way about Mother's Day, but then I was interviewed by Callie Crossley for her show on WGBH "Under the Radar" about what it's like to be a modern day Mother. I chatted about a lot of facets of motherhood with fellow blogger, Alex Elizabeth from Making Motherhood Visible (who is fantastic and whose blog you should definitely check out). The session flew by and I thought we had said plenty on the topic of motherhood. But then, on our walk out of the building, Callie asked us innocuously "what are your plans for Mother's Day" and maybe it's because I had already answered a lot of questions, but I gave my honest answer which is "I've got a lot of complicated feelings about this holiday." After an awkward pause where it felt like I had admitted I hate bunnies (to be clear- I do not hate bunnies, but disliking mother's day seems about on par) Alex turned to me and almost shouted "ME TOO!" It was then that I realized I might not be the only one.

So, if you love this holiday, please continue to do so. I don't mean to ruin it for anyone.

But....if you approach this day with a little bit of dread, I'm here to say "you are not alone." And here's why

  1. The expectations : Maybe this one is on me, but I still tie all my unrealistic expectations of what motherhood should look like, into this day. Specifically, on Mother's Day I expect my kids will be well behaved, I will be a domestic goddess, we'll do something spring-like a la the Vonn Trapps, and it.will.all.be.perfect. In reality, it's a normal day like any other, my kid's don't care that it's mother's day and do whatever interests them, I spend at least part of the day resenting them because "how DARE they, on Mother's Day" , and then I spend the rest of the day mad that my Mother's day has been "ruined." Mother's Day is basically the New Year's eve of holidays, except with a near-guaranteed chance that it won't live up to your expectations (because--toddlers). And on top of it, it's only happening to you.

  2. The Awkwardness : I find the whole day incredibly awkward too, much like I feel on my own birthday. I don't entirely love being the center of attention (I know, it makes no sense that I'm a blogger), and yet strangers are all wishing me a Happy Mother's Day. Don't like.

  3. The Confusion: Add to the fact that I'm not sure what Mother's Day is really about. I mean, is it a congratulations, is it a thank you, is it a day of appreciation? Like, what is my proper response to a day that I'm not sure what it's about?

  4. The Conflict : I'm very grateful that I have a wonderful relationship with my mom (hi, Mom!) and she's been a phenomenal example of motherhood for me. But I have many many friends who don't have that, either because their mother's have passed away, or because they had less than ideal mother's. So, for a lot of us, this emotion gets added to the mix of Mother's Day, which again, is supposed to be perfect.

  5. The Obligation: So, you mix all that up together, and then you're basically told you have to have a good mother's day (often by total strangers no less). When I write it all out, no wonder I've got some feelings about this day.

Turns out that I'm actually not alone in my feelings on this holiday. The woman who invented Mother's Day even spent most of her life trying to get it taken off the calendar after it became so commercialized which I think is proof that Anna Jarvis, the inventor of Mother's Day, and I could've gotten a drink together.

I've taken a few steps to come up with my own traditions to reclaim the holiday a bit. But my major tool in combating the madness is to not feel obligated to have any particular kind of day. With motherhood generally, I'm now far along the path of motherhood and confident enough to shut out anyone who tells me I'm supposed to be a particular type of mom. I rely on feminism (ie, there is no one type of mom) and just ruthless anger (ie, YOU DON'T KNOW ME) to silence most critics and voices in my head. But, when there's a whole holiday directed toward that phenomenon, I find it a little harder to silence the chatter.

I suspect, as the kids get older and they start making the holiday their own and bringing me hand-made gifts, I'll start to soften my opinion of the holiday. Because then it'll become what I think this holiday was always meant to be which his a sweet day for kids to honor their mother. I'll do my best by lowering my expectations and focusing on being grateful for what I have. And in fact, Chewie just brought me a cup of coffee and told me "Happy Mother's Day" and my husband took the kids scootering and let me sleep in....so we're off to a great start.


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