I remember almost 15 years ago, the Monday after Mother’s Day I was taking my friend Tracy out to dinner. I walked into her living room and was about bowled over by the beauty and lingering scent of several stunning floral arrangements. Surprised, I asked if I had missed her birthday.
No, she replied, those were her Mother’s day gifts from her father, father-in-law, and several brothers-in-law.
I was shocked.
To date, I had four daughters. Daly Kay, my oldest, was 6. My days were long and challenging and many nights still sleepless. Those of you with only younger ones, you know what kind of days I am talking about. Those of you with grown children, hopefully you remember. Every year I approached Mother’s Day with ideas of a grandiose breakfast while lying in bed, a leisurely morning preparing to go to church, a lovely brunch afterwards and my day filled with sweet cards and gifts and maybe even a bike ride wearing my favorite straw hat.
But that’s never what happened.
We always awoke late, and we were stressed trying to get to church. The rest of my day was spent going from one house to the next or one brunch to the next honoring my mom or my mother-in-law. And not that they didn’t deserve it…they absolutely did. But my gifts for them never seemed adequate and somehow between taking tired and cranky kids to and from the lunch table or trying to participate in conversation, I left the day feeling as if I had failed in honoring them enough while giving up any semblance of the day for me.
Every year I went to bed emotionally and physically exhausted and feeling lost and forgotten in a day that I felt was really meant more for those of us still in the trenches. What about us moms in the day to day dirty diapers, sports practices, homework and stress of raising up a family? I wanted to honor my mom and my mother-in-law, but spending most of the day doing so always left me feeling forgotten.
That’s why when I went to Tracy’s house that night and saw all those beautiful flowers that the entire family had sent to all the mommies, I decided that would be my tradition too with my children when they became parents. When my children were grown I would remember these feelings and choose to focus on my daughters and daughters-in-law still so deep in the struggle. I share this piece of my heart with you because in case any of you have a hard time expressing why Mother’s Day makes you an emotional wreck to your husbands for the same reasons I struggled, maybe you can stem some of that by sharing this post with him. Or your mom. Or your mother-in-law. Or maybe you can just send me a wink and I’ll know that Mother’s Day is a tough day for you. Tough in terms of expectations of you, for you, from you and even sometimes by you. Over the years I have mostly overcome this by choosing to just begin our own traditions and I have stopped trying to please everyone else. I do my best, and if that’s not good enough, I have to let it go. I spend every day of the year trying to honor them best by raising these children in such a way that they can be proud.
And that is truly the best gift any of us could ever give.