Feeds will be full of flowers this Sunday – smiling selfies, beaming mums surrounded by pyjama clad children. Shops are full of pink and pearls, raising our expectations.
So how will you be celebrating Mother’s Day this year? Frolicking in a grassy field with your angelic children, skipping between sunbeams in their crisply ironed clothes, offering a freshly picked flower and a hug? Or is it more like a piece of burnt toast and a squashed chocolate heart, before situation-normal-what’s-for-dinner-mum?
For others, the fuss this time of year only brings pain: grieving for mothers, mourning lost children, step mums left feeling displaced, and those (unhappily) childless women with a sharpened sense of loss.
Last year, a friend posted a picture of her Sunday night sink, overflowing with dirty dishes, just to keep it real. Despite deserving a break, and her kids adoring her, she wasn’t feeling the love. She went to bed feeling less appreciated than usual.
So why is that? Is it simply a product of unrealistic expectations? Do we subliminally hope for a day when all the things we do are returned in spades? That somehow putting your kid’s happiness before your own year in year out will come flooding back? Many of us tie the ‘appreciation’ felt to the quality of the job we must be doing. In reality, it is often the ‘mean mums’ who are doing it right. (I like to tell myself this, anyway, when I hear a chorus of ‘this is why nobody likes you’ as I turn off the wifi to force my kids off their screens and into the real world). Have children! They said. It’ll be fun! They said.
I am grateful for every hug from my kids, every card, and every eggs-benny my husband cooks each Mother’s Day as our three boys squabble around him each year. But as my own kids’ efforts usually wanes (around 630am when the dishes pile, the argy-bargy escalates and reality returns) the day becomes just another day – highs, lows, grateful moments but perhaps, for some, a little disappointment that it wasn’t as perfect as the Mother’s Day promos would have us believe.
But is it really a child’s responsibility to make us feel special and appreciated ALL DAY (or our partners who are just as tired) or has our culture barraged us with ridiculous expectations? As a society, we hold the role of motherhood close to our hearts, so why should our own worth be judged by one commercialised day in May?
For any mums out there feeling a little unappreciated, perhaps we need to accept our kids won’t know what we do for them until they do this gig for themselves (just like we didn’t), and simply celebrate the miracle of being with your kids – squabbles, dishes and all. And that we’d all do it all over again, despite the challenges, and be grateful for that burnt toast and cold tea.
Mother’s Day, and every day.
By Kylie Kaden www.kyliekaden.com.au