Mother’s Day: A day for families to celebrate! And…for Mother’s to have a Guilt Trip. I’ve been writing a talk to give in church on Mother’s Day, which is a dirty trick to have a woman do by the way, and I’m having a very hard time getting past my own guilt this year. It seems to get worse the older I get and the older my kids get.
I’m not the only one who feels like this. I’ve talked with many women and agree with some of their sentiments that Mother’s Day is a bitter-sweet holiday. In one respect, we honor our own mothers for all that they have done for us. On the converse side, we feel horribly inadequate with the heavy responsibility given to us as mothers or sadly for some, the burden of not having children for those that desire motherhood. Truly a catch 22.
I remember sitting in a church meeting on Mother’s Day one year and looking around at the ladies and their families. All of them seemed perfectly groomed and neat, with perfect make up, matching down to their nail polish with their kids crafted in the same mold.
I felt worthless in that moment as a mother for all the perceived wrongs I’ve done in raising my kids. I was pretty happy they had their shoes on the right feet, teeth brushed, and hair somewhat combed, but we all looked like we’d just come in from the campground or beach, and in fact, that may have been the case.
Another recent reminder of my perfection fails came when I flipped through our extended family calendar that my wonderful sister-in-law puts together for us. My 3 siblings have beautiful, professional family portraits done and look amazing in matching outfits. This is our family picture. We kind of look like a hot mess that rolled in off the river, dogs, soda cans and all.
Sometimes I wish I knew how to put that perfect image together a little better for my own family.
Enough Wallowing in the Guilt Trip!
But…I’m not perfect, and no mother is. I have made my epic share of mistakes as a mother! I can’t change them, but I can learn and improve, and I can stop wasting my time dwelling on them.
I know comparing myself to what I believe is perfection in someone else is useless and a waste of time. I’m slapping myself right now to just knock it off. I’m a unique Mother (just like every other woman), who brings a unique set of skills to the table that are matched perfectly to what my kids need…and my kids are matched to me to help me grow and progress as well.
These 5 children didn’t come with an instruction manual! And if they had, they would have needed a different one for each kid. What works to help one, may have no affect on another.
I know why a Mother’s guilt gets worse every year. It’s because kids get older and they have their own free agency. You can’t control or impact them as much as when they were young children. They make much bigger mistakes than not picking up their clothes or flushing the potty. You watch their poor choices as they suffer the consequences while all you can do as a Mother is stand back and support them, share their anguish, wish that you could change it, and wonder if you could have done something different to help them.
But…you also get to share in their accomplishments and the good things they do to dig themselves out of holes, show compassion to fellow beings, and succeed on their own terms.
Motherhood…The Greatest Adventure!
Motherhood is my greatest adventure! Nothing in life will compare to the highest highs I’ve experienced as a mother or the lowest lows. It’s a privilege and honor to bring another human being to earth and to share daily in their growth and development.
To love them unconditionally…to cry when they cry, laugh when they laugh, celebrate when they celebrate. And send them off into the world to live their lives as unique individuals on their own adventures, raising their own families.
Cut yourself some slack! It’s ok to be a unique Mother on your own unique family adventure; all of us are, you may not want to admit it. But I will.
My family knows I’ve always been a free spirit! For good and bad, that has rubbed off on my kids. I honestly can’t be anyone but me, neither can my kids and neither can any of you Mothers out there.
It’s so miserable to try to be something you are not…look around the world and that fact is pretty obvious.
I will always be the Mom who wears flip-flops, shorts, and a Jimmy Buffet t-shirt, even if it’s -30 outside. (Funny story about that, I went to take HUGE test for my career as a dietitian in that very outfit and they asked me if I was in the wrong place, yea whatever.)
My house isn’t perfect or coordinated, my kids aren’t perfect, I don’t wear make up (allergies), and it’s all semi-organized chaos around here. But, I try to have love and support my kids, there is adventure and there is dreaming of what’s around the corner. I’ll do my best just being me…and if it’s not good enough for someone else, get a life because I kind of like mine just the way it is.
My Mother’s Day Advice…
Don’t spend your life attempting to be someone you are not. Mothers, love yourselves however you are. Strive to improve what you can, and let go of what you can’t. Live your adventures be it at the beach or the mall while sharing your uniqueness with your kids. And more importantly, teach your kids to do the same and embrace their individuality with integrity, kindness, and gratitude.
Celebrate Mother’s Day by celebrating the individual that you are! And…Happy Guilt Free Mother’s Day-As a Mother, you’ve earned it!