What is the one thing mothers of young children want for Mother’s Day more than anything else?
To be alone.
I remember feeling it so intensely myself. My kids were one and four years old. The older was prone to epic tantrums at every transition—leaving the park, a friend’s house, Sunday School, the grocery store, the community garden. You name a location, we experienced a major tantrum there. The younger was coming to the end of his nursing days but not quite soon enough, and his enthusiastic hunger along with new teeth were leaving my body and spirit shredded.
You know what I’m describing.
Someone was always spilling something, throwing something, screaming something. My nerves felt frayed just trying to hold all this chaos and these big personalities together, never mind getting laundry done and something edible on the table.
So we pressed on through a difficult winter, and then this glorious spring day arrived to celebrate me! By the end of Mother's Day, however, I felt just as exhausted, sucked dry and tapped out as every other day. A small pile of gifts told me there had indeed been a celebration, I just wasn't sure I had even been there for it.
Let’s get real for a minute—
Mother's Day is NOT about giving moms what they want. It’s a celebration of an institution, a role in society. Think about it—bosses don’t celebrate Admin Day by giving their valuable assistant the day off. They couldn’t! They know everything would fall apart.
It’s the same with Mother’s Day. We do not get what we want or maybe even need most because it isn’t about that. This is hard to swallow, I know, but I suggest we will be miserable on Mother’s Day until we are able to shift our thinking about it.
Here’s a start: let’s zoom way out. Let’s view our lives like someone else peering in, maybe wanting all the things we’re complaining about. We were given this opportunity, this beautiful gift of motherhood. It does NOT always feel like a gift, but Mother’s Day is a great opportunity to focus our attention on gratitude. Consider spending a few minutes before the day gets started listing everything you love about being a mama.
Here’s another idea for shifting our perspective: celebrate the tribe of mothers around you. Make a phone call (not just to your mom), send an encouraging card to a mom you know is struggling, print pictures of yourself and a mama-friend together and send them with a note (hey, what can I say? I love images and am convinced they reinforce our bonds. It’s like getting a hug in the mail).
Instead of “Happy Mother’s Day” this year, I want to wish you a Joyful Mother’s Day, because, this go-round especially, you may not get the alone time you crave—that might make you happy—but you can still choose joy. You can choose actions that will change your mindset and help you celebrate this beautiful, crazy journey with the ones who make you a mother and walk with you every step of the way.