Before moms start throwing things at the screen… If you like Mother’s Day, be my guest. You deserve the honour, respect, time, gifts, love and appreciation in whatever form, including gooey kisses from tiny mouths and spa gift cards from dads.
That said, for a lot of moms (and dads) I know, the holiday has worn thin, often due to the burden of meeting unrealistic expectations during a period of life that’s already exhausting, overwhelming, and overburdened. But there’s another unspoken reason that’s hard for many moms to articulate so I’ll try.
Motherhood is logistics-stacked
A mother’s brain is like a washing machine: each item represents something or someone important like work, sports, kids, spouse or friends — all tumbling and jumbling, fighting for top spot.
Of course, no childhood is complete without playdates, free play and organised sports. The practices and games alone represent four to five hours or more per week, per child. Because parents want their children to be well-rounded, they enroll them in music or dance lessons, or other artistic ventures.
All of this must be juggled and managed with a smile. No kid wants a grumpy mom…
These are aside from other duties women take on, like work, friendships, housekeeping, groceries, and caring for other family members. Of course, men and fathers participate in all this, too. Pew Research proves dads help out now more than ever. However, moms tend to do this stuff more often because that’s in the job description. While many of us relish it, that doesn’t make it a less difficult logistical jungle.
Motherhood works your emotions
At times, it is physically and emotionally wearing, which amplifies an already emotionally sobering task. I haven’t slept more than three consecutive nights in 10 years due to one child or another getting up from bad dreams to vomiting, wetting the bed and needing a drink. There’s constant “mom guilt” too.
No person, except another parent, can fully understand how it feels to give every ounce of energy to another human being(s) all day long, yet feel completely filled and simultaneously drained at the taste of four goodnight kisses.
No person can assuage the terror you feel in a store, when your child goes missing for 30 seconds or when the ten-year-old comes home shedding hot tears because he’s been bullied.
No anguish can make up for ending the day realising that, while I may not have lost my temper, I did not hug every one of my children and tell them I love them today. Or perhaps, that day, for a moment I wished— then felt guilty for wishing — I had chosen a career other than raising little people to be responsible big people.
Mothers’ tasks loom large
This is why I hate the homogenised, commercial freak show that Mother’s Day has become. Not only can no Hallmark card capture the emotions but no amount of flowers signals adequate appreciation either. No son or daughter can thank a parent for all he or she has done. It is a sacrificial love that can never be repaid.
But doesn’t that mean we should attempt to honour it all the more? A day at the spa; a night out with friends… Whether mundane or grandiose, doesn’t it still make the thing feel that much smaller; that every day tugs, pulls, grates and excites every mother’s waking moments?
Some moms might hope for a day off or a fun outing with their kids on Mother’s Day, but most moms I know deep down want someone to make sense of, to acknowledge, to appreciate the wrangling in their hearts.
Motherhood is too big for one day
This is what it is to raise children. These are the ideas, emotions, dreams, fears, frustrations, failures and successes that weave in and out of our minds 1,000 times from breakfast until bedtime. It is an all-encompassing, all-exhausting, all-consuming task many mothers don’t feel qualified to do. Yet, they find themselves wiping dried toothpaste, kissing boo-boos, cleaning up vomit, teaching please and thank you, letting adolescents and teenagers go, crying over what she did not do, and smiling over what she did.
To have one day to “honour” mothers is to fail to even attempt to understand all that mothers do. It’s to take a gargantuan task and turn it into a tea, as if somehow that makes it all worthwhile. It does not.
What does are the slivers of the day where mom finally lets go of the tears, anxiety, pain, and frustration and realises God won’t give her more than she can handle. A simple, handmade card or an extravagant, expensive brunch one day a year does not an honoured mother make. But simple acts of recognition, empathy, acknowledgement and grace throughout the year can help mothers with a task bigger than themselves.
Have something to add in the story? Share it in the comments below.