motherhood

How to avoid Mother's Day Disappointment (and not feel guilty about it)

This is your day: a day that celebrates the blood, sweat, tears, love, kisses, hugs, long nights, early mornings, and reheated cups of coffee that you have sacrificed for your the tiny human(s) you made!

I think every mom has some expectation of what Mother's Day should be like, and I don't know a single one of us that hasn't felt a little let down or disappointed at the end of the day, followed by feelings of guilt for not being more grateful for the family we have and the effort they made. 

Maybe you just wanted lunch at your favourite restaurant, or a relaxing pedicure in the middle of the day. You might have hoped for breakfast in bed, with handmade cards slid underneath a hot cup of coffee, with the only three words that matter in the world. Maybe you just wanted a nap! 

Are you selfish? No. 
Are you worth it? Yes!
So, how can you have the mothers day you hope for? 

Tell them what you'd like.

It's actually THAT simple. 

What are the little things you long for to make you feel special, valued, and celebrated? Those things; say them.

It might feels a bit strange or contrived to clearly communicate what you want; it's not something we are well rehearsed at doing. But how many partners would breathe a sigh of relief if they knew exactly what it would take to make your Mothers Day special, to celebrate all you do and who you are to your family? I'd venture to guess it would be more than few. 

We aren't always the best at clearly communicating our needs, carving out time for ourselves, or asking for what we wish for. But this day? Its 'll about you, so why don't you tell the ones that love you the most, exactly what it would take to make you feel like their queen? It just might be the best Mother's Day yet. 

The Myth of the Superhero Mom

Have you noticed? From the moment you step foot into the threshold of motherhood, it is similar to what one might imagine it feels like to walk into a high-temperature pressure cooker. From the exhaustion of pregnancy and all it’s accompanying symptoms, learning to breastfeed and getting your baby to sleep, all the way through to the sheer madness of wrangling small children; despite the super-ness it requires to do all of these incredible things, we still somehow feel we don't measure up. 

Social media is great at keeping us feeling socially connected in an otherwise isolating season of life, but it also presents a bit of a false perception of what the realities of motherhood are really like. The whimsically filtered Instagram posts and status updates about epic days spent at the beach, often fail to mention the tears, tantrums, and chaos that surrounded those events. 

Are we really all who we say we are, who we strive to be, what we hope the world sees us as? Does it really matter? Perhaps what we see, what we are inundated with, and the representations of ourselves that we work so hard to portray, is somewhat of a myth; that under the beauty is madness, and just maybe, we aren’t alone down there. 

Oh, there are magical moments in motherhood, there is no doubt; like meeting your baby for the first time, hearing the uttering of first words, watching them crawl, walk, run, hearing them learn a new instrument or perform their first recital, watching their face light up as they unwrap a present, teaching them to ride a two wheeled bike; it is an incredible thing to be a witness of all new experiences and memorable moments of childhood, and these experiences should be celebrated, posted, shared, liked, loved - these are wonderful, incredible moments we experience everyday. 

But Motherhood is a chaotic balance of wonderful and treacherous, and you aren't alone in the trenches. 

Despite the huge task of parenthood; the incredible responsibility of caring for one, two, three or more lives besides our own, we carry on. We may do so in our pyjamas, wearing yesterdays mascara, eating someone else's half-eaten peanut butter toast, but we wake up every day and do it again, and that makes us Superheros. 

Maybe Superhero Mom doesn't wear a cape...perhaps she wears an apron that's covered in dirty little handprints and globs of dried oatmeal. She's juggling work emails in one hand, and turning on Paw Patrol with the other, while the doorbell rings for the second time - it's the pizza guy. She makes space in her bed at night to hug a scared toddler, and her superhero husband might slip away to the other room so everyone can sleep a bit better. I think Supermom probably yells too much, loves herself too little, and gives everything she has and never feels like it's ever enough. She probably drinks more than the recommended amount of coffee, and may even indulge in a little wine from time to time. She takes holiday's at the dentist, and finds respite in aisles of the grocery store, alone, at night. She is amazing because she simply is; she is doing the daily grind, giving all that she's got and hoping it covers all of her shortcomings, because being a Superhero is really, really hard. 

Motherhood is a beautiful mess that we don’t need to sweep out the backdoor, and perhaps needs to be shared with greater transparency, whether by social-media-selfie or over strong coffee with your also-exhausted next door neighbour. Why? Because we need one another; we can't be Superhero mom's without a superhero posse, so let’s stop pretending, and start being us, together.

The picture below was candidly taken by my oldest; its my youngest and myself in a pile of unfolded laundry, in all the our daily real-ness, with absolutely nothing to prove. 

Motherless Motherhood

 

Growing up my mom and I went for walks together almost every day. One of our favorite spots was the rustic pier at the boat marina near our house, in our little town by the sea. We went there often to count the starfish and stare at the ocean.

I started my own little family in the same town, just minutes away from the cul-de-sac I grew up on. My boys and I walk the pier often, it hasn’t changed a bit. The photo you see above was taken a few months ago, capturing my two oldest boys taking in the beauty of the ocean and mountains, just as I did with my mom as a little girl.  

I always knew I would become a mother someday. My childhood wasn’t perfect and my memories are often faded and blurred, but I remember so many beautiful things about my mother and how I longed to be all that she was, to my own children one day. I thought her job was so fantastic, there was a period of time I wanted 16 children of my own. Yep. 16. I now have three boys and a generous dose of reality. 

One of my most vivid memories was my mother saving me the leftover dough from her pies and bread making and letting me do with it whatever I wanted. I’d often fashion the bits into people or coils and dip them in cinnamon and sugar and bake them. I remember doing this beside her one day and telling her it was the best day of my life. Those were most definitely some of the best days of my life.

In 2009 my mom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, just a month before I would give birth to my first son. She’d had it for many years, but it’d been missed and she was already so weak. We visited her shortly after he was born and I remember being so grateful that she could even hold him in her shaking, fragile arms. Facing the reality that my mom would not be able to play with my children like she did with me, or have them for sleepovers at Grandma’s house, shattered my heart.

In early 2011 we began to see signs of her memory failing. A small percentage of Parkinson’s sufferers also develop dementia. In early 2012 she was officially diagnosed with dementia and my heart broke again. Not only would she never care for my children, but the days of my looking to her for motherly wisdom were running out. I was losing my mother in so many ways and my kids were missing out on knowing a wonderful woman and grandma.

I remember the last conversation we had during a time when she was still somewhat clear; she gave me advise on letting my children be who they are. She told me to foster their gifts and independence. She told me not to harass them about their homework insufferably or force them to trudge through piano lessons they hated, but to accept them for who they are and honor them in their uniqueness. I try to see them through the eyes she would have seen them, perfect in their own way.

I miss her wisdom, her compassionate heart, and her excitement for hearing about my day, my life, or anything I’d ramble about on the phone with her for hours. She was my best friend and my biggest cheerleader. She is my mother and my children’s grandmother. While she is still alive, because her memory has failed so much, she is gone.

This is my motherless motherhood.

There are days when I long to pick up the phone to call her; sometimes for advice or to share a victory; often just to cry and tell her how hard this mom thing can be. That’s what a mother is for, right?  Because the reality is, motherhood is hard. What our mothers did for us, we come to realize, was a daily grind; an eternal sacrifice and the ultimate act of selfless love. And when the going of motherhood gets tough, there is no one who understands more about the difficulties we are facing than our own moms.

When I went into labor with my third son, it was the first time I didn’t call her to tell her a baby was on its way – she wouldn’t have understood. The picture you see is her holding baby C at just a couple of months old. She was overjoyed to hold her 13th grandchild, even in her foggy state of mind.

   My mom, holding Cyrus for the first time. She was so in love!

   My mom, holding Cyrus for the first time. She was so in love!

I wish she could take my kids on her daily power walks and forest walks. She could push them on the swings at the park and sing to them with the voice she loved to use. She could bake them muffins and let them eat too many, read them books before bed, and rub their heads until they fell to sleep. I wish she could be on the other end of the line, telling me I’m doing just fine, that I can do this; that I am enough.

She won’t get that opportunity, and neither will I.

There are two beautiful realities in the midst of all of that has been handed to me. The first is that I’ve been given both a wonderful mother-in-law and a loving step-mother, as well as other amazing mentors and women in my life who serve to enrich my experience as a mom of young children. I am so blessed beyond what words can express, to have all of these incredible examples to glean from and who rescue me in desperate times, just as my own mother would have.

The second gift is that I get to carry on her legacy. Sometimes I will sing to my kids like she sung to me, sometimes I will raise my voice and yell and say sorry, like she did. Some days I will bake with my kids in a kitchen covered in flour, and other days I will send my kids outside to play while I close my eyes on the couch, because I’m too exhausted to play another game or build another blanket fort.  And one day I hope my boys will have their mother to lean on when they’re knee deep in diapers and just need mom.

There’s a void, but she’s there, in a way my children will know but not see. I am so grateful for what she left and I know we’ll be okay.