Sunday, May 12, 2013

Reflections on Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day!

I just enjoyed going to Mass with my husband, children, parents and brother, followed by a delicious brunch at Arnie's with more family. It was lovely.

As I'm sure all mothers do, I look forward to Mother's Day. But as with a lot of holidays, I've noticed that my expectations can be unrealistic. I love holidays and traditions and celebrating life with family and friends. Those are some of my favorite times. But in a way, you can almost look forward to a holiday or celebration too much!

For Mother's Day, there are certain things that Hallmark cards and TV commercials tend to portray as the norm. On Mother's Day, your children and husband should be perfect people who know your every wish without your saying a word, they provide you with a 5 star restaurant worthy breakfast in bed complete with a bouquet of flowers, your children make you adorable crafts that you will cherish forever and you are continually catered to and spoiled the entire day, enjoying a much needed "day off."

Well, at least in our house, this isn't quite how it all works out. Let me precedent this with saying that I am not complaining. Rather, I am admitting that any disappointment I ever feel on Mother's Day or really any celebration, has absolutely nothing to do with how well I am taken care of or how I'm treated. Like I said, I was taken out to a marvelous brunch this morning, enjoyed Mass with my family and Jason also brought me a latte and croissant in bed this morning! I have opened several cards and gifts and Jason is cooking Shrimp Scampi for dinner tonight! I have absolutely no complaints. Any frustration I feel on a day like today has nothing to do with how well I am taken care of, but rather with my own unrealistic expectations.

Mother's Day is not a day off. The children still need to be mothered! It can be surprising after watching enough television that your children don't transform into perfect angels for the day who think of your needs before their own. But even on Mother's Day, my children wear no halos, they do not grow angel's wings. They are still children. They still bicker. They still whine. They still need to be reminded, sometimes repeatedly, to obey.

If I focus on this, I can dive deep into a pity party. It is easy for me to start to feel entitled to a day of perfection. Mothers do work very hard and it can easily be argued that we deserve a day off. But it's just not in the job description.

And right there I think shows a major problem with my own attitude sometimes and of many mothers today. So often the media depicts motherhood as a burden, an inconvenience, a loss of your self, an ongoing trial that needs to be endured, a very tiresome job. But vacation days are not part of the job description because motherhood is not a job!

Motherhood is so much more. 

When we belittle our calling as mothers to merely a job, our perspective is skewed. We begin focusing on the difficulty of it, the frustrations, the way we are not appreciated or rewarded enough for our work. With this view, then of course we feel we need a day off. It's on Mother's Day, right?

I am trying to get away from this sense of entitlement to a day off. In fact, I'm trying to keep in mind that not only should we be celebrating and honoring mothers today, but we should be filled with gratitude for the calling and blessing of motherhood. 

My mom jumped into motherhood with both feet, embracing it tightly with both arms. She mothers five children and she does so with love and joy, as she always has. With everything she has given us, her actions of love were never performed with martyrdom but with joy. And I'm sure the five of us did not grow halos on Mother's Day for her either.

This is the attitude I want to extend to my own journey of motherhood. When my children are grown, I wonder how they will remember what my attitude was like as a mother. They surely see me frustrated almost daily. They see me tired. They hear corrections from me frequently. They witness me lose my patience. They hear me yell.

Do they know what a blessing and joy they are to me too? I hope so. I tell them everyday that I love them. But I want them to understand more than that. So every now and then, I take them into my arms and tell them, "You are my blessing and my joy." I hope they remember that.

Although in day-to-day life it can often be challenging, I want to strive to focus on the gift, the blessing and the joy of motherhood. On Mother's Day, I should not be expecting the impossible! In fact, I should have no expectations at all. Instead, I should see Mother's Day as a day to pause and reflect on how blessed I am by my children. If I could establish my heart in this way, Mother's Day would be even a greater gift than it already is.

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