As that day of the year draws near, the one day of the year that’s allocated to honour Mothers, I find myself thinking of the occasion with a different perspective, and it goes against the grain.
Mothers Day is understood to be a day on which other people do things for mums; on which she gets a break from her usual mummy duties. Indeed, the founder of the official Mother’s Day holiday, Amercian Anna Reeves Jarvis, originally conceived of Mother’s Day as a way of honouring the sacrifices mothers made for their children.
Remembering back 4 years ago, I was alive with anticipation as I awoke on my very first Mother’s Day. I was envisioning my husband getting up on Mothers Day Eve when my 6 month old predictably flung her ‘softie’ out of the cot and cried for it (which happened several times a night); I was imagining a sleep in, breakfast; I was relishing the idea of not having to think about my daughter’s meals or naps or needs for the day. Not much to ask for really. Oh, and I was secretly wondering what wonderfully thoughtful gift he had bought me. Well, I didn’t get a gift, or any of the above, and my husband didn’t understand the big deal. “But you’re not my mum” was his bewildered reply. I cried, feeling so let down and so misunderstood. My mum and sister understood; they both gave me gifts in recognition of the great job I was doing.
(Just to be clear, my husband has written me the most touching notes about my mummying, and thanks and treats me often – it’s just that I was expecting to be REALLY lavished with it on Mother’s Day).
Anna Jarvis would be horrified at my behaviour. She had originally conceived of Mother’s Day as a quiet day of personal celebration. She was said to be disgusted when it became so commercialized, even lobbying government to have it removed from the American calendar, and by the end of her life she had disowned the holiday altogether.
But it remains on the calendar. Which brings me back to my experience 4 years ago…
My anticipation was high, and I fell hard. Why? Because Mother’s Day is so commercialised; there’s so much hype – gift guides, advertising, in-store theatre we simply can’t ignore – and this has given me and other mums inflated expectations. We see, we want, we hope. Then add social media into the mix and the green eyed-monster rears his ugly head, for on Mother’s Day Facebook becomes skytebook, full of photos and posts of “the lucky ones”.
This year, having finished writing my first book, I’m taking guidance from myself and taking a new perspective. One that’s positive and productive. And that is: that actually, despite the lack of gifts, I’m a lucky one. We’re ALL the lucky ones – because we have children; because we are mothers.
We’re ALL the lucky ones – because we have children; because we are mothers.
Here’s an excerpt from my book which is appropriate to share here:
It’s a responsibility; a job for life. Motherhood is something else too: it’s an opportunity.
- to see ourselves as we see our children, that is, as very special and important;
- to nurture ourselves, just as we nurture our children; and
- to grow and flourish, just as we encourage our children to.
Are you reading between the lines? Do you see the message here? What’s so very important, is not what others do for us, but the action we take to be kind to ourselves. It’s about how we see ourselves, how we treat ourselves.
And so, as we approach Mother’s Day this year I’m not filled with anticipation. I’m not putting my enjoyment of the day in anyone else’s hands (except the soft, sweet hands of my daughters if they happen to get a reminder – they are only 4 and 3 afterall). It’s up to me and here’s what I’m going to do:
- I’m going to play with my girls. I mean really play, unplugged, unencumbered from mobile phone. I’m going to feel their love and delight in being their mummy. Their desire to play with me, and contentedness in doing so, is their way of thanking me.
- I’m going to let my husband off the hook (Hamish, if you’re reading this, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do something for me if you want to, it just means I don’t expect you to – but surprises are lovely :-))
- I’m going to take 2 hours to fill my cup and celebrate myself – not in an egotistical way but in a gently reflective and nurturing way. I’m going to go to a yoga class to cherish my beautiful body that grew my babies and made me a mummy, and for a walk on the beach to nourish my soul.
- I’m going to spend time with my mum. I’ve booked tickets to a movie for just she and I and then we’ll come home and all have dinner together as a family, celebrating each other and recognising how lucky we are.
Anna Jarvis had originally conceived of Mother’s Day as a day of personal celebration of and between mothers and families. I think she’d be proud.
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Wise words, Wayne Dyer. I’ve changed the way I think about Mother’s Day, and this year, I’m really looking forward to it.
If you’re lavished with love on Mother’s Days, do enjoy it.
If you’re not, I hope my musing might help and that you feel empowered to create a wonderful day for yourself. Happy Mothers Day mummies xx