May 09, 2021
Mother’s Day here in the United States is, traditionally, a day where we celebrate mothers with cards, flowers, candy, visits or phone calls. Okay, so how could that be a bad thing? After all, women in any type of caregiving capacity sacrifice so much of themselves all year long. They all deserve one day to be pampered and appreciated. Right?
No, no, and no.
As a mother to a six year old, I’ve experienced more than a handful of Mother’s Days now where I’m the honored recipient and not just the provider of appreciation to my own mother. It’s been fun and my husband has always done a nice job of showing his appreciation for me (but he shows me that year-round, not just on Mother’s Day). I’ve had the chance over the course of this time to hear about the Mother’s Day experiences of my mama peers, too. What I have noticed is an almost palpable expectation of what the big day should entail (which varies from mother to mother) ranging from cards and gifts at the minimum to time alone or away, meals out, breakfast in bed, spa days, etc. Mostly, though, I hear disappointed mamas talking about last minute cards picked out by forgetful husbands and lost, time spent doing what they do the other 364 days of the year (cooking, cleaning, children-minding, etc.), and basically not feeling appreciated or honored at all.
Looking at this from both a feminist and an LOA perspective, I cannot say strongly enough that it’s a bad idea (and actually not possible) to put one’s happiness into the hands of others. Women fought to be free, independent and have equal opportunity as men. Why should we then entrust our joy into their hands and even the hands of our children, thereby seemingly giving up the ability to create joy for ourselves? And, in fact, joy can only come from within. It cannot be provided to you by anyone else.
We can’t control others or their decisions. We can control our own decisions and our own thoughts and feelings. Instead of succumbing to a highly commercialized propped up expectation of how mothers should be treated on their one assigned day each year and feeling disappointed if or when the significant others and children don’t come through with exactly what would make said mothers feel appreciated, why not do something different?
If we mothers desire/require a gift card for a massage or even just two hours of peace and quiet to read a book on this one momentous day of the year to feel appreciated by our respective broods, then I think we don’t really have a problem with Mother’s Day, but with all the other days in the year. As free, independent women, we make choices every day of the year. We make choices to wash the dishes or not wash the dishes. We make choices to ask for help or not ask for help. We make choices to be the one to always pick up the clothes lying on the floor or to set boundaries for what we expect and to hold our loved ones responsible for respecting those boundaries. If we don’t set our own boundaries, then how can we expect anyone else to set them for us? If we don’t share our needs, how can we expect those who love us to read our minds? Remember, love does not equate to being able to read minds! I encourage all mothers (indeed all people) to look inward instead. Own your power.
Moreover, as mothers we are honored on this blessed day for our sacrifices. I think it’s important as women and as mothers to be conscious of the sacrifices we make each and every day. Making conscious choices to do the things we do for our loved ones leads to joy. Doing things for the sake of others in a way that feels like a martyr-like sacrifice leads to bitterness and resentment. That does not lead to joy, no matter how many roses and cards and brunches you get on Mother’s Day.
This is not to say that there aren't seasons of life which require more from us - times when we are called on to care for newborns, aging parents, or sick children, for instance. These are times that test our strength. These are times when caring for ourselves and creating even little bits of joy for ourselves is important in order to be emotionally and physically available for those who depend on us.
Truly, as a woman and as a mother, the best gift is one that only you can give to yourself: taking responsibility for yourself, your choices, your wellbeing, your joy, your sacrifices, and your boundaries. And I guarantee that as you work toward this, every day will become Mother’s Day.
Comments will be approved before showing up.