By Laurajean Downs
Sometimes Mother’s Day treats are not the glowing, happy scenes the card companies make them out to be.
Mother’s Day arrived only two weeks after the birth of my third daughter. Since sleep was the most coveted item in my life, my husband gave me the luxury of an extra hour’s worth while he took a walk with the older two girls. They returned and woke me, which left half an hour to get ready for church.
As I began dressing, the baby woke up, and she was not pleased. The following minutes were spent enduring the baby’s cries, changing her diaper, holding her while I dressed one-handed, and listening to frustrated noises coming from the girls trying to dress themselves. I managed to pull on a skirt, blouse, and pantyhose. Realizing I could put on my shoes while in the car, I walked the baby to the car to free up my hands and help the girls with their coats. I got everyone buckled up, and returned to the house for my shoes. My husband collided with me on the front porch.
“Where are you going? It’s time to leave.”
“I know, but I would like to wear my shoes to church. You didn’t lock the door, did you?”
“Yes, I always lock the door when we leave. Here—“ he rummaged in his pockets. “Oh year. You have the only house key. Your mother still has mine. It’s in your purse.”
I sighed. “My purse is inside with my shoes.”
By now my two-year-old is yelling “Mommy—shoes, Mommy—shoes,” we are already ten minutes late, and it’s Mother’s Day.
Although Mother’s Day is intended to make mothers feel good, it seems to have the opposite effect in many families. Dads feel bad because they didn’t plan the perfect day. Kids feel bad because they aren’t completely well-behaved on this “special day,” and moms feel bad because everyone is trying to make them feel good and it isn’t working.
So what’s the point? The real purpose of Mother’s Day is to honor the most valuable job in the world, to thank mothers for the sacrifices they make and the good they bring. It isn’t to play “queen for a day,” or to make everyone feel inadequate.
Motherhood is a unique and special job. It is not easily done by someone else; you cannot call in a temporary when you aren’t up to the task. Being a mother is not simply a role that we fulfill; it involves our total being.
That is what makes Mother’s Day so difficult. How does a greeting card thank the woman who prepared you for life? How does a small child buy a present for someone who IS his life?
This Mother’s Day, I would like to go beyond the presents, the expectations, the “perfect day” mentality. Instead, I would like my family to focus on being a family, just like we always are. Yes, some cards would be nice, and I always like some potted flowers to remind me that spring is coming; but I am not expecting a fairy tale day. I will not feel insulted because I still have to cook dinner. I won’t be depressed because I have to change dirty diapers and scold children.
Instead, I will celebrate the role that God has given me as a wife and a mother, and enjoy the relationships I have within my family. Rather than focusing on what I don’t have to do, I will appreciate the value of the tasks I have before me.
This Mother’s Day, I will not spend the day looking to others for their affirmation and thanks, It will be more fulfilling to realize that affirmation is in my attitude toward my work, not someone else’s appreciation of what I do.
I will try to give my own family the same love that I give them every day. And this year, I’ll put on my shoes before I leave the house.
© 1995, 2013 Laurajean Downs. This essay was first published in the May 1995 issue of Welcome Home.