Two of the most emotionally charged words in the English language. The only holiday in America where you feel guilty for being the mom you are, or guilty for not being a mom at all. What's up with that?
And just so it's all really out there - this is mainly brought on ourselves. I think most husbands and children WANT to do whatever you want, but because the day is so charged, they can hardly do anything right. I mean, we feel like we don't DESERVE anything, but boy we're going to be angry if we don't get ANYTHING.
Since this will be my 20th mother's day as an actual mother, I thought I'd write down some thoughts on my evolution through Mother's Day. This may not be what actually happened, it's just what I remember.
Years negative one and two (after marriage, no kids): Someone tried to give me a flower at church on Mother's Day. What? Oh, that's not for me. Really? Umm Ok, thanks. In my mind, Mother's Day was actually about MOTHERS (what a concept). Too bad I didn't recognize it as the only Mother's Day I would have as an adult where guilt would not be my main emotion. I didn't yet have kids, or want kids until I was out of school, so I was off the hook. If only I'd known....
Year one: This was my only big surprise. Oh, really? It's Mother's Day? Wow, I had forgotten. The Brain got the baby dressed for church, and I got to go with my little perfect family. Nobody yelled at anyone that morning.
Years two through 11: These were the years where I was balancing a baby or toddler on one hip, and my church bag on the other. Usually my ensemble was completed with spit up either on my shoulder or down my back. These Mother's Days are more or less a blur of flowers in bed (complete with dirt), handmade ceramic creations, and lots of syrupy sticky kisses and breakfasts in bed. Love that part. The blur also runs together with the guilt of wanting to be with my children (after all it's Mother's Day!!) , but really really needing a break from my children, because I'm just plain exhausted (shouldn't I get a break? after all, it's Mother's Day!!).
Round it all off with a healthy dose of Sacrament Meeting speakers parading past the podium, waxing poetic about perfect mothers from Eve to Marjorie. Don't get me wrong, I love hearing about these amazing mothers, but just on this particular day of the year, it didn't seem so much about how great they were as it was about how great I wasn't.
Years 12-16 The emotional fun begins. During these years our Bishopric came up with a very special form of Mother's Day torture, I mean speaker. They filled the program with graduating seniors. These are the these young adults who are in the middle of the sudden realization that they are about to lose their personal shoppers, chefs, and that laundry system where you if you happen to put your laundry in the hamper, it magically appears a few days later clean and folded on your bed. All of a sudden their home lives were PERFECT - and no one can jerk tears like older teens who realize they have been taking advantage of their VERY PERFECT mothers for all these years. Yea for the kids - sad for all the rest of us who got to spend an hour hearing about the extaordinarily perfect mothers. Every time I heard about Sister So and So making a full hot breakfast every single morning before early morning seminary, I shrunk a little lower in my seat.
All this after I have spent the morning yelling about being at church on time and where are your shoes, not those, the other ones!! Nice.
Years 17-19- This was the year it dawned on me that maybe Mother's Day wasn't about ME. I decided that as I went through the day, I would try to make the day special for other mothers in my life, and if anything special happened for me it would just be a bonus. Listening to the talks is different when you have it in our mind that they are giving a tribute to someone else. Maybe a few older sisters in the ward that I admire, whatever. The point is, I let the comments be facts about others, not accusations of what I should be doing.
This year I'm not dreading the coming of Mothers Day like I once did. I'm getting better at making it a nice day for others, and letting the talks, tributes, and speeches be about them. I'll be happy about whatever fun suprises might occur. And I'll cheerfully clean up the kitchen afterward. Well, I'll insist that the kitchen gets clean by the end of the day.
After all, it IS Mother's Day.