While I have only celebrated two Mother's Day as a mom, I have commemorated my own mother for 30 years, and have honored dear friends who are far more seasoned mothers than I. I have spent the money on extravagant gifts like spa trips, jewelry, and even surprise vacations. I've made homemade gifts — from macaroni necklaces to custom photo albums — agonizing over every tiny detail in order to create the best present possible. However, now that I'm knee-deep in the throes of toddlerhood, I've realized there is one thing mothers are forgetting to ask for on Mother's Day:
Perhaps it's guilt, that oh-so powerful motivator that plagues every mother I have ever known or have had the privilege of talking to. We long for some alone time to take care of ourselves and absolutely no one else, but we feel like we're "bad mothers" for taking that time, asking for that time or obtaining even a fraction of that time in some small way, or even admitting we want that time to begin with.
So honestly, sometimes the best celebration of motherhood is to take a break from it.
The moment a woman becomes a mother, she's expected to be with her child at all times. It's why, if a mother chooses she to work — out of either necessity or desire — she's asked if she is trying to "have it all" or if she misses her kid or if it was a "difficult decision." It's why, when a mother is seen in public without her son or daughter, she's often asked if her partner is "babysitting," as the role of primary caregiver automatically falls to her, the woman.
Maybe it's because mothers are shamed and judged and endlessly scorned when they admit that, sometimes, it sucks being a mother. It can be exhausting and it definitely tries your patience and you have zero personal space for far too long and you're constantly sacrificing the things you want or even, a times, need.
So honestly, sometimes the best celebration of motherhood is to take a break from it. I am a mom every single day, and celebrated as one by doing my job as a parent and a partner and a provider. Those celebrations are small — like my partner taking out the trash when it's my turn or bringing me a coffee when he knows I'm exhausted or my son giving me a hug and a kiss for no other reason than he wanted to give me a hug and a kiss — but they matter and they're so beneficial and they're more indicative of the work I do as a mother, than any one day could embody. So honestly, while I love spending time with my family, sometimes I would just like to spend time with myself, and Mother's Day is as good a day as any.
If we really wanted to celebrate mothers, we would listen to what they have to say and what they need.
As a culture, have created a day that society feels should be celebrated in a very specific way, and it seems as though it doesn't matter if there's another way - an individual, personal and honestly private way - that a mother would rather celebrate herself, her sacrifices, or her love for her children. in the end and seemingly always, Mother's Day "should" involve a brunch (probably), presents (obviously) and family, so that people are given the opportunity to say thank you.
If we really wanted to celebrate mothers, we would listen to what they have to say and what they need. If a mother wants space to decompress or read a book or sleep all day or simply enjoy silence, that is exactly what she should be given with no questions asked and with absolutely zero judgement attached.
We long for some alone time to take care of ourselves and absolutely no one else, but we feel like we're "bad mothers" for taking that time, asking for that time or obtaining even a fraction of that time in some small way, or even admitting we want that time to begin with.
I can't say that every single mother wants space and time alone on Mother's Day. After all, we're all different and, in turn, all want different things. However, I can say that if you are feeling depleted and in need of some self-care, space and time alone shouldn't be something you're afraid to ask for. If Mother's Day is really about celebrating everything moms do, and is used to facilitate that celebration by giving mom something she wants and/or needs, then remember to truly ask for something you want or need. If that ends up being space, then by all means mom, take that space and don't feel the least bit sorry about it. I'll send you a mental cheers as I sip my wine, enjoying a great book and comfortable silence. Alone.