OK, let me just give a full disclosure here. I’m a nut about holidays. I wrote about Valentines Day here, Easter here and now, I’m talking about Mother’s Day. Just strap in for the rest of the year, because I’ll be back for the Fourth of July, Christmas and all the ones in between.
But in my obsessions for celebrations, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the meaning of our holidays compared to how we spend our time preparing for them, celebrating them and memorializing them. And so often, I’m coming up with inconsistencies.
So what’s the most, dreamiest Mothers Day you can think of…Let’s think it through together.
It would involve A LOT of alone time, right? Maybe breakfast in bed? A spa day? An outing with friends and some fun drinks? A shopping trip? How about a night in a hotel all by yourself while your partner is home with the kids for the night?
But what’s with all the escaping?
Why the need to get away from our role in order to feel celebrated? Are our everyday lives as mothers so crushing that we have defined celebration as getting away from the people who made us mothers in the first place?”
Now to be clear, I’m not hating on any of those activities. I think all of those things sound pretty amazing. And being a mom is tough. It’s the toughest job in the world. We model sacrifice day in and day out. We’re the ones laying in bed at night worrying. We take the leftovers that nobody else wants. We change the wet sheets at 3am. We scrub the grass stains out of the baseball pants. We are the ones doing all the things. And it’s hard. And sometimes, yes, let’s take a break from it all.
But my friends, might I propose something revolutionary today?
Maybe we spend our Mother’s Day just being a mom. Without the expectation of getting something in return for what we do. Yes, I know that’s what we do everyday.
But just think about it, maybe we celebrate who we are and what we do WITH the people who made us mothers. And we tell them out loud that mothering is good. And it’s holy work. And it’s more than just packing lunches and folding underwear. (Although there’s holy refinement in those things for sure.)
Maybe we spend our day reminding ourselves to feel wonder at the incredible job that we get to do as moms. It’s easy to forget when we’re wiping down sticky countertops and replacing batteries in ALL. THE. TOYS. Maybe we take some time to explain to our kids, young and old, why mothers are important. Maybe we have them write notes of appreciation to us. Maybe we teach them to cook us breakfast.
Maybe we spend the day remembering and celebrating our own mothers. Maybe we text our friends who are mothers and tell them they’re amazing. Maybe we text our friends who aren’t yet mothers and remind them that we will continue hoping with them as long as it takes. Maybe we knock on the door of the grandmother next door and tell her that she is lovely and honorable. And maybe we give her a card drawn by our four year old of her standing next to a tree that has a tire swing hanging down from it’s branch.
So if the only way to celebrate Mother’s Day is by indulging in a day of respite, what about the years that it’s not in the cards? What about the years that nobody celebrates you? What about the year that there’s not enough money in your bank account for something extra? Or the year that there’s a baseball tournament and schedules are too busy to allow a personal spa day? It will happen. Give it time. What about the first year that all the kids have moved away or that you’re spending it alone without a partner?
Are you less of a mother? Are you less worthy of appreciation? I adamantly think not.
A few years ago, my husband was sick on Mothers Day. So I got up, got dressed and took the kids to church by myself. When we got home, he was still in bed and quarantined from the rest of us. So I cooked lunch, put the baby down for his nap and entertained the other two. The day was strikingly like every other day of my life. It was mundane and uneventful and I felt a little slighted. I felt a little cheated. Where was my celebration? Where was my breakfast in bed?
What I should have done was spent the day teaching my kids to celebrate and appreciate. Appreciate me. And appreciate the entire institution of motherhood and the whole lineage of women who have gone before us.
So maybe you’re still thinking that the only acceptable way to celebrate Mother’s Day is by getting away from motherhood. What would need to change in your home over the next 364 days in order for you to feel free from that need to escape? Because yes, motherhood can be hard. And draining. And exhausting. But if we’re more satisfied in our role as mothers, experiencing small joys and respites every single day, then the exhaustion should begin to wean. And maybe we won’t feel so entitled to a day of “me time” once a year as a temporary relief.
Because I think that the best way to spend Mother’s Day is by cultivating true and genuine gratitude for mothers. For ourselves. For the other mothers we know. Instead of demanding a day of “me time”, introducing our children to a deeper level of understanding, appreciation and responsibility for who we are and what we do.
I think the best way to spend Mother’s Day is with all social media turned off.
So you don’t feel slighted by your friend’s grandiose breakfast in bed, or your sisters fancy date night plans. Because Mother’s Day. It’s just another day. And I’ve found it more fruitful to spend my day living out the reasons why my children love me instead of teaching them that I’ll take any chance I can to get away from them.