Updated: May 8, 2020
By, Stephanie Mitton
As a mother, what did you TRULY feel when you look back at past Mother’s Days?
My close friend reflected last year “Oh Steph, I had a horrible day yesterday too. Cried so much and I don’t know why!!!” Raise your hand if you have ever cried on Mother’s Day. Or maybe you didn't cry, but you felt disappointed?
Mother’s Day can be a hard day for many people: people who have lost mothers, people who have lost children, people who can’t have children and people who have challenging relationships with their parents or children etc. Even without some of these challenges, other mom’s find it a hard day too. What’s meant to be a celebration (of one of the hardest jobs in the word), is a difficult day, I would argue, for most moms.
Upon reflecting, two things stand out: slowing down AND unmet expectations.
First, let's be real, being a mom is a HARD job. Being responsible for another human’s health and wellbeing is an important job but most of the time we feel like we don’t know what we’re doing and worry that we aren't doing it well. We want to do a GOOD job raising our kids, while also juggling work, relationships with spouses, maintaining links to friends and social life, volunteering, taking care of aging parents, illness. I could go on. We work HARD and we know most women do more housework than men, even with both parents working, according to statistics Canada, women are spending an average of 50 per cent more time doing unpaid work than men. Not to mention the mental work of keeping track of schedules, recipes, bill payments and all those fun things. No wonder we can be cranky and tired at times… it’s because we are legit EXHAUSTED!!!
“The phrase ‘working mother’ is redundant.” -Jane Sellman
On Mother’s Day, many of us take time to slow down, which gives us some much-needed time to reflect, but we often don’t like what we see. I try on Mother’s Day not to do most of the cooking and pickup that I normally do, opening up space in my schedule. Last year I finally forgave myself and allowed myself to ignore the mess…like my husband does. But the mental strain of trying to do this was exhausting since the mess made me crazy and my expectations were not met as dishes continued to sit on the table taunting me. As a side note, last year a study confirmed the correlation between clutter and its impacts on mental health, so I am not the only one!
By the time we slow down to think about how much weight we carry, how tired we are, we break down.
Last year, since I had decided I wasn't going to make breakfast or do dishes, we went out for breakfast, by the time we ate it was 11am (we were starving with two cranky kids) and we had driven by 4 restaurants with lines out the door. Which made me reflect, can NO man make breakfast?
We also want our children to be saints for the day--at least I do--which is completely unrealistic since they never are, even on a good day. I remember my mother pleading on Mother’s Day as a child, that all she wanted was for my sister and I to get along. Kid’s fight, it’s normal but on Mother’s Day I have zero tolerance for it. This means my day is set up for failure from the start.
“Expectation is the root of all heartaches.” – Willaim Shakespeare
So what can we do?
Do what works for you, if your mental health is improved by doing dishes, DO the dishes.
Don’t compare yourself to others, what is right for you isn't right for everyone else. And just because someone posted the perfect Mother’s Day online doesn't mean it will be your reality OR that it was even theirs.
Manage your expectations. Don’t put too much pressure on one day a year. If you want to make changes to your life or your relationships, you need to make it a priority all year.
Read Myrrhanda’s blog post 6 Ways to Improve Your Relationship equality.
Practice self care, take time for yourself, reflect and SLOW DOWN all year!
Work on maintaining a healthy mindset year around, even when things are easy, so you can weather the more challenging days.
Consider getting AWAY from your family. Get out of the house, take a “me” day, go to the spa or get your nails done… whatever floats your boat! And DON’T go all mom guilt on me!
People can’t read minds. Men often complain that we don’t “say” what we want, so tell them. If they can’t get it right, nothing is stopping you from getting your own flowers :). It isn't someone else's responsibility to make you happy.
Last Mother’s Day before I went to bed, I cleaned up the dishes, and it made me happy. And between the crying, there were moments of joy, deep love and appreciation, and quality time spent with my children.
Being a mom is hard but you got this! Don’t let ANYONE ever tell you differently!
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"There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one."