In honor of Mother’s Day I decided to take to take a break from picking up after my husband and sons over the weekend. This morning, I am dealing the fallout from that decision. Any plans I had for my day will have to wait until I’m done cleaning the shocking mess that takes place when I drop a single ball in my role as mom. (Just HOW does our house get so messy in such a short time?!)
Just before church on Mother’s Day morning, I quickly read Raina Kelley‘s report in Newsweek, A Mother’s Day Uprising, where she not-so-kiddingly purports that modern-day motherhood is “impossible”, and the idea that Mother’s Day should be relegated to a Sunday is annoying. “If you really want to celebrate the women who raised us, give us a Monday,” she writes. ”Nothing says ‘Thanks, Mom’ like a 3-day weekend.” When I finished reading, Kelley had me downright stirred up about “what I deserve” in return for my tireless 24/7 contributions to my family.
My husband, who is not a church-goer, attended with me last year in honor of the hallowed holiday. This year, as I hurried to get myself ready, he hung out with my older son playing Legos Star Wars. I was in tears on my way to church–alone–and while he had said, “Happy Mother’s Day” to me first thing when I woke up, I felt less than recognized this Mother’s Day. I made that man a father, after all! Twice!
I only had a few minutes to pull myself together for the short drive. I reminded myself that his absense at church meant nothing. He never attends anyway, and I don’t wish for him to sit there miserably on my account. In truth, I was embarrassed. I actually wondered what people would think of me showing up alone on Mother’s Day. (You may now use the word “crazy.”)
Pleeeeeassse! C’mon now! What would it have proved if he came along? I know the truth of my family dynamic, and I am so very satisfied with our life together. And how on earth could my husband guess that I might feel that way, and therefore decide to do something about it? Did I expect him to read my mind? Why on earth was I thinking this way?
This Mother’s Day hysteria reminds me of the pressures placed on single women on February 14th: Will I have a date? If so, should I play it cool or does it mean more that we are going out on this particular night? If he gives me a gift, how will it represent his feelings for me? Will my significant other do something special? Will he propose in an impossibly romantic way that is exactly like I’ve always pictured, but never told him, in case I scare him away? If he really loves me, he’ll know exactly what to do, what to give, what to say…
It’s a recipe for disappointment, and there are no winners.
To combat this, I have come up with a few solutions.
1.) Realize that we (ALL of us) are always in the midst of perfect love, and no other person needs to prove it to us, even our significant other.
2.) Let go of all expectations, and stop putting values on material items or even gestures of affection. Allow love to be expressed in any form, allow ourselves to be surprised and delighted. (There is love in silence, and there is love in that new blender you were given!)
3.) Give your partner a break and just tell him what speaks to your heart. Don’t make him guess or read your mind. Open the lines of communication and tell him what would be special to you. (If this puts your partner off at all, find a new channel for sharing the workings of your hearts together.)
The year I became a mother, my husband bought a notebook and began a tradition; Every year he writes his reflections of my life as a mother, recalling both the challenges and the high points, and offers loving words of how well I handled them and how much he loves me. This, I promise, is better than any card, and will be something I treasure my entire life.
I told my husband that, for Mother’s Day this year, I wanted to visit Artesia, Orange County’s “Little India”. Yes, I adore Indian food, but Pioneer Street is lined with lovely little shops filled with gorgeous fabrics, hand-made skirts, and embellished tunics, gorgeous hand-made jewellery, and beautiful carved furnishings and perfumes and scarves, oh my! It’s just the kind of place I could never take two small, reckless, preschoolers on my own. I wanted a few hours to poke around the curious little stores, along with my husband who, in honor of the holiday, was left in charge of minding curious little fingers.
We had a wonderful lunch, visited an Indian sweet shop for unusual desserts largely crafted from honey and condensed milk, and wandered the shops. He was so complimentary about a skirt and top I tried, and got them for me. He mentioned getting some jewellery (insert pounding heart of excitement here), but we found some gorgeous, hand-carved, low chairs that would be perfect on our patio, and I was more than happy to forgo jewellery in favor of something our whole family could enjoy. My husband’s appreciation for me as a mother is in those chairs.
Yes, I was truly blessed on Mother’s Day, but the experience reminded me to let go of my expectations. I’m not alone in this. Before dinner, I had to step out with my son to pick up a few things from the grocery store. I ran into a neighbor mom and we wished one another a Happy Mother’s Day. She sheepishly admitted she was vacuuming her car: “I have to do it some time!” Well, I’m grocery shopping and then I’ll be cooking–so what? How we spend the day is not a reflection of how much we are loved. In fact, what we receive—or don’t recieve—has nothing to do with it, I’m convinced.
We really need to ask ourselves, “what do I need, when love is all around me?” The love, full abundant love, is already there, and we as mothers do our part to help contribute to it. Now if only our families would pick up after themselves once in a while…