The One Thing Every Mom Should Do On Mother’s Day

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Despite the greeting card industry’s efforts to spin the second Sunday in May into a national holiday that really only benefits floral shops and restaurants willing to host large brunch parties, Mother’s Day is just another chaotic day in the life of moms the world over. Is it wonderful being served breakfast in bed by the kids? Yes. Choking down their burnt toast and over-sweetened coffee? Eh, not so much. Which is why there is one thing every mom should do on Mother's Day that, well, doesn't involve breastfed in bed or burnt toast.

In fact, there is nothing my family can do differently this year to celebrate me as “mom." What will be different, will be my attitude. I will accept, and embrace, whatever happens that day.

While I feel extremely loved during those 15 minutes on Mother’s Day when the kids gift me with cards or drawings and huge smiles and hugs, it’s amazing how quickly the day devolves into the usual weekend shenanigans. There have been Mother’s Days when the kids took over my housework so I could chill, but the end result was just me re-folding laundry and scrubbing baking sheets with stuck-on gunk they concocted for “dinner.”

Courtesy of Liza Wyles

So for Mother’s Day to live up to the hype this year, there are going to have to be some changes.

I’m not asking for picture frames (why is it always picture frames??) or “me” time or to be taken out for dinner. In fact, there is nothing my family can do differently this year to celebrate me as “mom.”

What will be different, will be my attitude.

I will accept, and embrace, whatever happens that day.

I am a mother every day of the year, and whether my kids know it or not, they celebrate that fact daily. I just haven’t always seen it that way.
Courtesy of Liza Wyles

I am a mother every day of the year, and whether my kids know it or not, they celebrate that fact daily. I just haven’t always seen it that way.

I don’t consider their tantrums over bath time as a celebration of my mothering. I don’t recognize their messy eating as a tribute to my parenting skills. I don’t interpret them screaming, “You’re the worst mom in the world!” as unconditional love.

But I should because, well, it is.

My biggest frustrations are born from my children not cooperating, and they seem to reserve that infuriating behavior for me, and sometimes their father. They are model citizens at school (well, my kindergartner is at least trying to be), and around their grandparents. I seem to bear the brunt of their acting out., and it’s been soul-sucking.

This Mother’s Day, when they will be making an effort to be on their best behavior for me and they will inevitably fall into some pit of sibling rivalry despair, I will cherish it.

Don’t get me wrong, I am trying to turn it around by upping the parenting game. You know, doing things like set guidelines, only providing a certain amount of choices from which my children can choose from, staying consistent, and acknowledging their emotions. I do, or at least try to do, all the things on a daily basis. Still, it’s hard not to lose my sh*t when it’s the same scene: one half-naked kid on the floor kicking and screaming, the other twerking over the head of the screamer, all while the bathtub is about to overflow and I haven’t even taken my coat off all the way after coming home from a full day at work.

So it’s up to me.

Courtesy of Liza Wyles

This Mother’s Day, when they will be making an effort to be on their best behavior for me and they will inevitably fall into some pit of sibling rivalry despair, I will cherish it. I will try not to view it as a parenting failure. Instead, I will attempt to bask in the satisfaction that their occasional awful behavior is the result of them feeling completely comfortable to let their worst sides show.

It is a gift only I can give to me. I need to let myself off the hook for trying to create some level of perfection, or even congeniality, in my home.

It means I have built them a safe home.

I won’t stop being exasperated by their shenanigans and selective hearing loss when I ask them to clean up their toys but, on Mother’s Day, I will create my own zen. I will lower my expectations and accept that motherhood is about being at peace with the chaos.

It is a gift only I can give to myself. I need to let myself off the hook for trying to create some level of perfection, or even congeniality, in my home. It might be enough, for now, to cultivate an environment where my children feel safe to work out the complexities of their burgeoning personalities, knowing I will catch them when they fall. (And they always fall because of all the jumping.)

Courtesy of Liza Wyles

It’s a nice idea, Mother’s Day, but it puts a lot of pressure on the kids, on my partner, on teachers teachers who have to send all the children home with some kind of craft, and on the moms. All of us, together, feel the need to create this one seemingly perfect day, knowing every other day is chaos.

I think the one thing every mom should do on Mother’s Day is to give up the idea that it’s supposed to be a better day to be a mom than, well, any other day. I can count on bad behavior a lot of the time, but I never know when my kids and I are going to have a great day. I’ve had enlightening discussions over breakfast with my 8 and 5 year olds on a random Tuesday. We’ve had impromptu tickle battles. Occasionally, the Lego towers remain standing because the kids actually used teamwork.

I am looking forward to the extra showering of love on Mother’s Day from my kids, but I’m keeping a firm grasp on reality. It will be a relief, I think, to let go the notion of my family in perfect harmony on this particular day. It will be so much more meaningful to be pleasantly surprised by it when it does, eventually, happen.