It’s Mother’s Day here in the U.S.A.
Today, the phrase “Happy Mother’s Day!” will echo across the land, perhaps accompanied by flowers and candy and handmade cards, sparkly gifts and family dinners. It is a day for celebrating moms; 24 hours dedicated to glorious motherhood.
I’m grateful for the recognition; I also struggle with it. It seems a bit dishonest to pretend, on this day, that motherhood is entirely magical. Yes, there are magical moments, but in my experience, motherhood is truly a roller-coaster ride, full of ups and downs, twists and turns.
I am beyond happy to be a mom. I adore my sons. I delight in their presence and marvel at the intelligent, kind, funny, wonderful adults they’ve become. They make my heart sing.
As much as I am and have been and always will be a loving mom, an adoring and appreciative mom, a mom who sometimes can’t believe that she has the great good fortune of having these beautiful boys in her life, I must be honest. I also am and have been and will be, on occasion, an exhausted mom. An angry mom. A confused and scared and bewildered mom. An impatient mom; a mom without answers. An imperfect mom.
I’m also a daughter. I love my mother dearly and will spend time with her today, celebrating the good in our lives. Our roles have switched, however. I am now the caregiver, the mother figure, and the strain of this responsibility has changed our relationship. I no longer think of my mother as a provider of safety and comfort and warmth. Instead, I worry about how to provide these things to her; how to ensure that she’s as happy as possible, that she has the things she needs and that she feels loved and cared for, even if she’s no longer capable of fully participating in the experience. At times, the grief and guilt and resentment are overwhelming, damaging my perspective on what it means to be a daughter and what it means to be a parent.
Today, I also think about the people I know who’ve had (and are having) their own motherhood struggles. Some of them want motherhood with all their hearts but have been unable to realize that dream. Others have experienced the devastating loss of a child and now have only memories. I know of friends whose children have medical or emotional or educational challenges, who anxiously worry about their children’s future, their safety and their potential. Some of my friends are like me, caring for their moms as they age. Still others have found themselves caring for grandchildren, nieces and nephews, children whose parents can’t or won’t parent them, filling a gap, taking on a role they did not necessarily anticipate. And, some have lost their moms and are now coping with feelings of being adrift or alone or simply missing the person they loved.
If you choose to wish me a happy Mother’s Day today, I’ll gratefully accept. And, if you’d like me to return the salutation, I’ll cheerfully oblige.
If, however, you’d prefer to offer something like “Yay For Us, We’re Hanging In There This Mother’s Day!” or “We Are Awesome, Watch Us Getting It Done This Mother’s Day!” or even a simple “Let’s High Five This Mother’s Day!”, that’s okay by me. And, I’ll offer you whatever message works for you in return.
We can strive for perfection yet still accept our flaws. We can be happy, we can be joyful and grateful and merry; we can also be sad and frustrated and overwhelmed. We can be mothers who are real human beings, full of real human feelings, doing the best we can to do the best we can. We can be good at that, and that is worth celebrating.
Here’s to an honest Mother’s Day.