I’m here to finally confess that I dread Mother’s Day- because I feel guilty about it and maybe you do too. For me, it’s kind of like my birthday (which I also don’t love) where people ask what I want and say it’s all about me but then I don’t actually get what I want which is always going to be: SLEEP. BATH. READ BOOK. BATH. READ BOOK. SLEEP. What’s yours? In buying this house, I gave up the claw-foot bathtub dream in order to have space for a veggie garden. (Yay, more work for me. What was I thinking)?
Otherwise, I would kill to be left alone. That feels horrible to say out loud- when my family wants to “celebrate me” and I don’t really want to even see them, -unless they are serving me. What can I say, my “love language” is “service” and children are maybe not the best at that. But I don’t hate Mother’s Day because I don’t get what I want or because I don’t have a big bathtub.
I hate Mother’s Day because the weight of responsibility of being a Mom* is CRUSHING and this day reminds me of just how crushing it is and how infrequently my contribution is acknowledged; how unconsciously taken for granted I am. I think about all of the ways our society shows us that the work of mothering is not valued. I finally have a moment to reflect on how I feel day to day- which is still bone-chillingly exhausted even though my kids sleep well. Mentally exhausted, physically exhausted and psychically and spiritually exhausted from worrying about the development of my beautiful little creatures- (not the dogs- I have little patience for the dogs right now and I have guilt about that too.) I am exhausted because even with my feminist boundaries in place to try and get help from my housemates large and small, just asking for help or keeping those boundaries is its own job.
I have great kids- fairly easy to be around, talented, entertaining, sweet, cuddly, polite, beautiful. I have a wonderful partner- literally the most loving, and understanding person ever. But we don’t have a village and we are barely treading water. And I still feel like this even though I have enormous privilege and resources and am extremely confident in the parenting realm because of my life’s work and experience. It makes me nauseous to think about the struggle of my sisters of color, or those living on less, without parenting partners, without the resources I have. Maternal mental health is in crisis in our country. We are down to our last nerve.
8 years into this parent gig, I have come to find that traveling for work is my “me-time” and so I crave work trips more and more (Come see me speak at a baby fair or teach a workshop!) But it is also work time and so when a day promises to be about what I want- it would be nice to have and actual me-day- the compromise was that I did not have to host.
And most likely, Mother’s Day will be about the grandmothers. Figuring out how to balance what I want with what grandma wants- or what 2 (or 4!) grandmas want! Can we make Grandparent’s Day a bigger thing so this won’t happen?! And because we have a two-mom household, of course I also want to make Mommy happy on this day (I’m just “Mom” as in “Mom! Mom! Mom. Mom. Moooommmmm.”) and my wife is a bit more social than me so staying home to rest was what I asked for and not what I am getting this year.
I have a friend who says, “Let’s just pick our own day and tell the family that will be the day we get left alone, since we can’t change the Mother’s Day culture.” But I actually think we can change the Mother’s Day culture. I think Mother’s Day should be truly a no-labor day. What if moms didn’t do any work and those around them forgot about brunch and flower and had to contemplate the intensity of the job that is mothering; think about feminized labor (nannies and teachers are doing the job of mothering too) and feminized unpaid labor- that 24hr-on-call job that cannot be compared to any other job on the planet.
What if we told ’em, “Hey- listen to what it’s like to be me. Really sit and contemplate my contribution”?
So sorry/not sorry if I think this day is BS. I just think that when us moms are asked what we want for Mother’s Day, we either aren’t listened to or we feel too guilty to say what we really crave. It starts with saying out loud – say what you are experiencing. Say what you need. Tell what it honestly feels like to do this work.
*By “mom” and “mother” I don’t mean a gender or sex. I mean these words for brevity to quickly describe those who identify with the work of traditional “mothering” and do so on a consistent basis. People of many genders do the work traditionally known as mothering.
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