Ahhhh! It’s Mother’s Day. The day we’ve all been waiting for . . . I’m sure we have all woken up rested and refreshed. All our needs have been anticipated, and each of us has been pampered all day. Cucumber water sparkles on our bedside table as we enjoy reading in our sundrenched room of magical tranquility. We haven’t got a care in the world . . . Our children are all on their best behavior—no fighting, understanding our desire for serenity, thrilled to give us a break from the everyday . . .
. . . SCREEEEEECH!!!! I know. . . . I bet I lost you in the second sentence.
If anyone actually spends her Mother’s Day that way, I don’t know her. It’s true: My lifelong dream has been to have a private, luxury hotel room with spa service for “my” special day—somehow transported away from the reality of my life. But what is more true is that Mother’s Day often entails, well, a whole lot of mothering.
I used to feel frustrated that my husband hadn’t somehow fulfilled my desire for the ultimate escape (or at least come closer to the mark), and that my children still acted like children, who expected me to act like I was still their mother. I would inwardly sulk when I took a fussy baby out of Mass or refereed a fight over who got to look at the back of the cereal box during breakfast. Tranquil breakfast in bed—Ha! And what kind of teacher would require an elementary school project, complete with a costume and presentation, to be due the second week in May which, of course, required extra homework-helping time for me?
I’m sad to admit that, for me, Mother’s Day has all too often been an occasion to fall into self-pity and to grow in selfishness—on the very day that is intended to be a great celebration of the vocation that embodies self-LESS-ness to the extreme! Resentment grows when we blame someone else for real or perceived problems, and then allow the blame to fester until the resentment itself becomes the exponentially larger problem. It’s actually quite humorous (although a bit embarrassing and kind of pathetic) that I let myself direct angry feelings toward others just because my circumstances asked me to fulfill the responsibilities I have willingly embraced as a mother in choosing to accept the calling that sanctifies and ennobles me, and more importantly, brings grace and love to my family and the world.
So, this year it’s time to reframe this holiday and my expectations and take responsibility for my own feelings, actions, and ultimately, my choice to be loving. You know, like a mother . . .
There is nothing wrong with desiring and obtaining rest and restoration, seeking to fulfill the need for alone time, or to receive the gift of some pampering. Self-care is essential stewardship for the gift of my own life, but that is up to me. What I think time, maturity, and yes, age, is teaching me, is that I do not actually want to escape the reality of who I am nor leave behind the immeasurable gift I have received in becoming a mother. Moreover, it is downright foolish and wrong for me to project self-serving expectations upon my family. I want to love those entrusted to me and celebrate this Mother’s Day in a way that gives greater dignity to the vocation I am privileged to live and increases my love and gratitude for my family. Motherhood is part of the divine economy that generates gift upon gift, and growth and new life through the emptying of oneself for others.
So, bring on the messy kitchen with lots of eager little cooks, the paper cards, and the chocolate I’ve been trying to avoid. My life is a gift. My family is an immeasurable gift. I would not trade this life for anything in the world. The proof is in the banana-berry, chocolate chip, peanut butter pudding . . . May we all know and celebrate this truth with grateful hearts!
Happy Mother’s Day!