Mother's Day. It brings thoughts of breakfast in bed, hugs, kisses, handmade cards and gifts, thoughtful acts and deeds. It's supposed to be a happy day of feeling appreciated for everything we do for our families. But depending on a woman’s circumstances, this holiday can sometimes feel far less than “happy.”
For me, Mother’s Day can bring tears, both happy and sad, as I reflect on events that have affected both me and the women close to me:
- Making special meals for my mum and my nanna.
- Mourning an antie's sudden death from terminal illness, leaving behind three barely grown-up children and one grandchild.
- Doctors saying we may never have children— shattering my dreams of being a mum.
- Celebrating my first Mother's Day--holding the baby son God gave us!
- Feeling helpless when a friend's premature baby didn't survive.
- Having another auntie murdered by her estranged husband, leaving her three-year old son with family while his dad went to jail.
- Desperation to have a second baby.
- Thanking God for a second baby, despite doctors saying the pregnancy was “doomed.”
- Waiting anxiously to learn if the cysts on our our third baby’s brain had gone away or if he had a genetic disorder that would cause stillbirth or death in the first year.
- Praising God for the blessing of our healthy third son, and then a fourth baby on the way.
- Feeling overwhelmed and inadequate as a wife and mother.
- Grieving the miscarriage of a hoped-for fifth child.
- Feeling devstation and guilt for the SIDS death of a friend's baby (while they stayed in our home) and fear that our own baby would meet the same fate.
- Celebrating as those same friends conceived and had another child.
- Praying when our youngest son stopped moving in-utero and was delivered by semi-emergency c-section. The cord had been around his neck, and it was clear the doctors were thinking that we would be going home with empty arms and broken hearts. There was a loud, collective sigh of relief when he started to cry and breathe inexplicably (I believe, as a result of the power of intercessory prayer) halfway through transferring him to the resuscitation trolley.
- Watching each of our boys grow and change, developing so differently from each other.
- Thanking God for my husband’s insistence that I travel to visit my nanna for Mother’s Day, especially when she suddenly died four weeks later.
- Feelings of pride at the physical and academic achievements of my boys.
- Excitement when friends welcomed a baby girl into their family after a long battle with infertility.
It's an enormous mix of emotions, and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one with conflicting feelings. Being a mother is not easy, but somehow it makes you more sensititive to the pain of others.
Sometimes everyday chaos makes you feel that you just can't cope: someone can't find their hat, shoes, or homework; dirty dishes are stacked in the sink; the pile of ironing resembles Mount Everest; the kids are fighting; you look (and feel) a wreck; there's food to cook for church; and that project you wanted to finish weeks ago is still not done. Time slips so quickly through your fingers, and when you fall into bed at the end of the day, you marvel at how much you didn't manage to get done.
If you look around and compare yourself to other mothers who appear to have it all together, you're bound to feel not-so-happy. I suggest a different approach: Get real with yourself and the comen around you who, dare I say it, may possibly think you're the perfect mother.
Give yourself some credit for doing your best every day. You don't have to be "perfect," just "good enough." Your family loves you just the way you are.