The Best Mother's Day

When I was a child, I was big on Mother's Day. I was very creative. I loved coloring and making cards and crafts. I delighted in making breakfast for my mom - with my Dad's help of course - and picking flowers out of the yard to put in a vase for her. I liked shopping for gifts for her.

When I became a mother, I expected my children as they grew up would be the same. I envisioned them counting down on the calendar and then scrambling out of bed to put together a breakfast for me. I assumed they'd scribble cards and make elaborate pipe cleaner and beads & macaroni and marker creations. I naively also assumed I'd spend the day luxuriating and relaxing while my family took care of themselves.

However, I never particularly voiced those ideas. I just expected them to know. (Why? I don't know.) I also had a very skewed view of what family life is ACTUALLY like.

So guess what happened? 
REALITY. That's what happened.

In years past, the scribbled cards would arrive but the kids would continue to bicker and fight. There were still diapers to change, dishes that needed washed, laundry that needed to be folded, and spills that needed cleaned up. ("Oh Mother! You're needed on Aisle 1, Aisle 2...basically all the aisles!") Since my children are homeschooled, there were no cute projects to bring home about mom...unless I did them with them...and that kind of defeats the purpose! And the biggest newsflash: the world does not stop turning just because I want a "day off."

The main problem with this situation is not what people do or don't do - it's about the expectation. I was expecting my kids to do things that just were not feasible - they are siblings and they are going to bicker, especially the smaller ones who are close in age. The babies aren't going to suddenly stop needing their diapers changed. And also - if we are expecting something but don't communicate it, how do we expect people to follow through? I hadn't told my kids the things I used to do for my mom when I was younger. And also also - how realistic is it to expect or want those things? What's "normal" for Mother's Day? Is it what everyone else is doing?

The simple answer is that everyone is different. Some people like elaborate celebrations and gifts, others like things more simple or from the heart. It really will depend on what stage of life you're in and what your family does.

The more complicated answer is that Mother’s Day is not always sunshine and roses. It’s not necessarily breakfast in bed or a day all to yourself. It’s not always a bouquet of flowers, a new necklace, a spa day, or a shopping trip. Those things are great (don't get me wrong!) and if they happen, that's fabulous...but that's not always the case.

Sometimes Mother's Day is challenged by life circumstances: illness, job loss, family problems, new babies, multiple little ones, a death in the family, pregnancy, infertility, special needs, work...the list goes on and on. Life gets busy and sometimes things are hard. During those times, Mother's Day is much simpler. 

It’s a hug from a toddler. It’s a simple lunch or dinner, maybe even just a dessert or a bag of your favorite candy. A homemade card with a mess left on your dining room table. A wildflower. A pile of breakfast dishes created by your "creative" children. Sleeping in just a tiny bit until the baby wakes you up for the hundredth time. Maybe even just closing your eyes for a few minutes while the kids watch a movie or your husband drives you home from dinner with your parents.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. There's no set-in-stone rules that dictate what you should or shouldn't do. Mother's Day is a day for us to show appreciation for our mothers and mother figures...but in the grand scheme of things, we really should be doing that on a daily or weekly basis regardless of what holiday it is. We shouldn't just appreciate someone one single day of the year and then forget about them or never voice it the other 364.

I decided a few years ago, I was going to stop having grand expectations for Mother's Day and my birthday. (They're just a week apart.) I was going to let whatever happened, happen. Can I just say that it is so freeing? My family does things for me - they get me a gift and a card, or make me cards, we go somewhere or sometimes we go out to eat - but I've stopped worrying about perfection or what they SHOULD be doing. I talked to the kids about what I used to do for my mom. I appreciate any type of sentiment they want to offer me. This year I got cards and gift cards on my birthday and the little boys sang to me, and on Mother's Day my daughter and husband got me my favorite treats and a card, we visited with my mother-in-law, and then went to dinner with my dad's family. (And I got sang to again, haha!)

I guess let me just wrap this up by saying: do what works for you. Don't try to measure up to what Mrs. Jones is doing for Mother's Day. What's really important to you? Let it be known to your family - hopefully PRIOR to Mother's Day - and then let go of the idea that everything has to be perfect.

And before I go, a few things I want to say to some of the most important people in the world:

To my loving mother: Being overdue with several babies made me have a new appreciation for you carrying me in your womb for an extra month. You gave life to me and having experienced that myself, it is not something I take lightly. You always let me be a part of whatever you were doing in the home - be it your beauty shop, your Avon business, making a "restaurant" for Dad to come dine at when he got off work - and for letting me use my imagination. Thank you for always encouraging me to keep going, even on the rough days and supporting me.

To my mother-in-law: A single mom who worked HARD to better herself and give her son a good life, you amaze me with your tenacity. You aren't afraid to say what's on your mind and I appreciate that honesty. You amaze me with how you can get the kids to mind after I've hollered at them a half dozen times. You've cleaned my house and babysat and been there when babies were born...thank you for sharing life with us and for blessing me with your son.

To my grandma: I'm sure you probably had your doubts when I said I wanted to homeschool but you never once told me I couldn't do it or that I wasn't qualified enough. You have inspired me in so, so many ways - letting me put stickers on your students papers and reading to me and letting me explore nature and comforting me in one of my very darkest hours. I know I could call and talk to you about anything under the sun.

To my aunts and aunts by marriage: I may not see you all as much as I'd like but you've each touched my life in unique ways. One of you in particular was one of the first ones to say something positive when I found out I was pregnant with Zeke. Another one has taught my children so many valuable lessons. Whether you have your own children or you're a dog or cat mom, you've all been wonderful to me and my children.

To my cousins and cousins by marriage: Many of you are parents now and I see how well you are doing. I'm so very proud of you and your families. And to those who aren't parents but who long to be, you have all my love and support...I know you are going to be amazing parents with so much to give.

To my friends: I am a sucky friend. I'd say I'm in a busy stage and life is crazy but I know that's really just an excuse because communication is a two way street. Know that I love and appreciate every single one of you. Even those I don't get to see very often. We all have our own issues and problems & no one is perfect...but you are still a darn good momma, regardless.

And lastly (but not least) my husband and my children: I'll be honest, I was never all that sure I wanted kids back in the day. It wasn't on the forefront of my mind. But ha, jokes on me because now there's a ton of you kids! I'm joking but really: you guys made me into who I am today. Of course I've had a lot to do with it but you guys totally changed and transformed my world and my views on a lot of things. Thank you husband for working so hard to provide for us and going through this crazy life with me. I love you all. Thank you for making me a mother.

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