When I was younger, I never gave much thought to Mother’s Day. Of course, on that special Sunday in May I celebrated my incredible Mother and Grandmothers. Often created homemade gifts for them, bought cards full of all the sentiments I probably should’ve shared more throughout the year. A day of brunches and gardening and love and gift giving. Mother’s Day was a happy day until it wasn’t.
When I was a kid and young adult, Mother’s Day was about my mom. Not a day for me, but for her. But, once I got married, and started to try to become a mom myself, there was no single day in the year more excruciating. More painful. More difficult. Each Mother’s Day that passed that I couldn’t celebrate was like a punch in the gut. And there was no escaping it. My inbox was jammed with Mother’s Day sale messages. The television played what seemed an endless stream of commercials featuring happy moms with their kiddos, not to mention the storyline of EVERY SINGLE tv show turned to Mother’s Day. Stores were packed with cards and images of women being moms. I thank god that there was no social media back then, I’m not sure how I’d have survived an Instagram feed of homemade gifts for moms on those challenging days.
The worst were the years where there was hope leading up to Mother’s Day. One more round of fertility treatments, and if it worked, I’d actually be pregnant on Mother’s Day. I could finally celebrate, too. Those were the hardest.
After years of terrible Mother’s Days, I’d built that Sunday up as this epic prize in my mind. The incredible day I was missing out on would someday, hopefully, be one of my favorite of the year. I don’t know what exactly I had in mind, but it would be awesome and thoughtful and lovely and perfect.
And, honestly, my first Mother’s Day wasn’t any of those. I’d somehow catupultated my expectations right past simply being grateful to be able to finally celebrate the day all the way to this insane unattainable expectation of myself and everyone around me. Nathan was just a few weeks old on my first Mother’s Day. So I was still very much in the haze of new motherhood, a mix of exhaustion, elation and confusion. And, I’d missed a key part in my grandiose plans for the day, I didn’t tell anyone else, particularly my husband, what all I’d dreamed this day up to be over my years of waiting for it to happen. I just expected it to magically be magic. And, as the day progressed, I became more disappointed and frustrated, which in turn filled me with guilt at missing out on this day because I was being so selfish.
It took me a few Mother’s Days to find my rhythm. To forgive myself and my family our imperfections, and realize that the perfect Mother’s Day for me is simply a nice quiet day at home with my husband & kids, and a few hours to myself to dig in my garden.
Mother’s Day is just a day. It doesn’t make you a mom, define you as a mom or serve as a barometer of your abilities to be a good mom. It’s a day.
My kids and I are grateful for each other every day, even when we don’t do our best at showing it, and that’s the real prize as far as I’m concerned. The lifetime of motherhood I get to experience, the good, the bad, the hard, the wonderful. I’ve done nothing in my life as important or incredible as being a mom. I think I knew that back then. I knew I wanted nothing more than to be a mom and I knew it would be magic. And, the idea it may not happen was impossible to handle. So, in a way, maybe all those terrible Mother’s Days allowed me a chance to funnel all that pain into one focused day, so the other 364 days of the year would be ever so slightly more bearable.