What I Wanted For Mother’s Day


How was your Mother’s Day?  20140511-200433.jpg

If you are anything like me, you have a complicated relationship with the holiday.  There is a sense of being manipulated by the media and marketing geared towards consumerism in addition to the worry of feeling great all day long and also celebrating your own maternal figure.

On one hand, the idea of celebrating motherhood is special. It is nice to think that we (and our maternal caregivers) would be the center of attention for one whole day, that our husbands would shower us with appreciation, and our children would be perfectly behaved, adoring cherubs.

On the other hand. . . there is reality.

Look. If you have a husband who gave you a spa day and took the children to the playground while you slept in, then that is great for you. He nailed it. If you have those mythical “easy” children who behaved all day, got along with each other, and did not get sassy even once, I’m happy for you.

For most of us, the reality of motherhood is an all-consuming love that’s dirty, smelly, chaotic, and constant, meaning it doesn’t necessarily stand still for one day each year while you are adored like the Goddess you are.

I’ve been trying to write this post without sounding like an ungrateful harpy, but the Mother’s Day of my dreams would have gone a lot differently.

If I had been asked, I would have said I did not want the Pandora charms, lovely as they are. I would have foregone the bouquet of roses and the breakfast.

I would have done without the orange juice that my husband spiked with white wine at 7:30 a.m. without me knowing, so when I drank it I thought the juice had gone off and didn’t realize I had moved beyond “day-drinking” to “early morning drinking.”


Not to sound ungrateful, but what I wanted for Mother’s Day wasn’t elaborate, at least it didn’t cost anything.

First of all, I would have been totally content with the cards the kids made me, rather than trying to create something unrealistic.

But. . .  it would have been nice if someone else did my laundry and grocery shopping.

I also wanted someone else to notice, for once, that the dining room table is encrusted with maple syrup, jelly, pizza crumbs and moldering cheese and wipe it up, and then wring out the sponge instead of tossing it back into the sink to wallow in its own decrepitude.

I wanted the tub to be magically cleaned because Sunday is “cleaning day” even though it was also Mother’s Day and there is still a ton of crap to do even though Hallmark says “go buy a card.”

It would have been heavenly to not worry about work all weekend.

I wanted my kids to get along and not start dueling tantrums in the car on the way home from our picnic.

Speaking of our picnic, I would have loved not to have been the person to do all the shopping, food prep, and packing for it because I was trying to do something special for my own mother by giving her a picnic and my sister blew us off and my brother is mentally ill and missing, so I was left with the entire responsibility to “bring it”.

I wanted to not be making toast for and cleaning up after the kids at 7 p.m. because they did not want to eat any of our picnic fare.

Most of all, I wanted to go to bed not feeling like a bitter wench about all of the above.

It I were one of those kicky bloggers who has it all together, I would end this post by saying, “Hey look at me, I spent Mother’s Day being a mom and it was awesome to treasure every moment!”

I could do that, but I will not because it would not be authentic.  My blog is all for mindfulness, but I will stop short of lying to you.


What I realized as I was falling asleep (deliriously exhausted) at the end of the day, was that in some ways, my day was perfect.  The hand made cards were amazing.  The kids had their moments of being adorable and affectionate.  My own mom seemed happy.  My husband cleaned the toilet and helped me put fresh sheets on the bed.  We saw the ocean and ate nice stuff.  There was wine.

And I felt loved, despite all the chaos and exhaustion, I felt loved.

But what I really wanted for Mother’s Day was to not be a mom for a little bit, to be alone somewhere quiet without any responsibilities or voices asking me to get up and do one more thing, because being a working mom is relentless and so much harder than I ever imagined.

I wanted the guilt and frustration twirling in my gut like a fire tornado to simmer down because it made it so hard to think or even breathe.

I have friends who lost a baby to cancer when she was only five months old. Losing a child is unimaginable to me, and yet I am forever taking my children for granted and trying to shirk the responsibilities because I am overwhelmed and exhausted. In these moments, I think of my friends and their lovely daughter, and I try to reconnect and do better. Sometimes it works and I am humbled. But many other times, it is like telling a young child that there are starving kids in Africa so they should eat all their broccoli. It is an abstract concept.

It is an abstract concept I pray to never understand in reality.

Pema Chodron says, “The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves.”  She also says something about how the greatest sadness is robbing ourselves of the present moment.  I felt both of these sentiments full-force as I slipped into sleep last night.

I read a lot of posts about Mother’s Day this past weekend.  Some were quirky.  Some were punchy.  Some were raw.  Some were downright annoying they were so sweet and sublime.  They made me feel like I should have some deeper understanding of what it is to be a mom.20140512-134358.jpg

What I understood, is that I failed yet again at being in the present moment because I was frazzled and anxious.  I also understood I should have left cleaning my closet and taking three loads of stuff to the consignment store for another weekend.

In spite of all my frenetic worry, grumpiness, and expectations, I was loved, and I have the construction paper and crayola cards to prove it.

So, maybe I didn’t get the Mother’s Day I wanted.  But maybe I got the gift I needed.



31 responses »

  1. I think it’s ok to want to be away from family/kids on Mothers Day, and I too hate the pressure there is to buy crap. This Mothers Day I laid out what my wishes are for future Mothers Days: no gifts (only handmade ones), and I prefer experiences to stuff (meaning, food and fun).
    And I like your idea of getting the gift of having chores done for you.
    I hope there’s room for you to ask for (and get) what you’re wanting for future Mothers Days, whatever that may be.

  2. Totally agree. When my girls were little, I thought about how Mother’s Day is really all about the oldest mom around and the kids, and I was pretty much left to do the work I did every day, but with an extra chip on my shoulder. Now that my mom and mother-in-law have passed and my kids are teenagers, one might think it would be different. Not so much. I had one of the cruddiest MD’s ever. Crying alone in my bed at night because there were no cards, no gifts, no flowers. But there was love and comments and compliments and hugs – but there I was crying (ungrateful me!!!) over no card or anyone asking even once, “What do you want to do, Kelly/Mom?”

    Reminds me of the Bounty commercial, “Life is messy. Clean it up.” Yep. Sometimes it’s really messy.

    • Hi Kelly! Thanks so much for reading/commeting. I’m so sorry you had a sucky day this year. Thinking back, I imagine that there must have been a bunch of Mother’s days where I totally cheaped out on my mom. Karma maybe? I hope that you were able to rebound and feel the love, but I think it is so hard when our expectations do not match up with reality. Life is indeed messy. Thanks so much for stopping by. xoxox.

  3. Charlotte, I have totally wanted the gift of sleeping in and nobody else’s agenda on Mother’s Day for the last 17 years. As a single mom, fat chance. Ever since my son was born, I have realized that I will not have a mother’s day until my mom passes away (if she does so before me). When you are a daughter, you are not entitled to a mother’s day unless your mom lives far, far away.

    • Hi! Thanks so much for stopping by, reading, and leaving a comment. It is a balancing act. Processing it helped me to acknowledge my negative emotions and refocus on the love and light. Sounds kind of corny, but it all worked out okay. Thanks again for commenting! xox.

    • Thanks, Lady! Honestly, I do not know how you single moms do it! You are my heroine! xoxox. I hope your Mother’s Day was very special. I know at the very least you felt the love and adoration of your sweet little munchkin! xox.

  4. I feel you too! I am in between two mother’s day because Switzerland is doing it like the rest of the world and France, like always, is making a point to put it somewhen else in May (I am not even sure when). My daughter is 20 months so there’s little chance I’ll have something really from her (but since we were asked to give our glass yoghourts pots at daycare and did not see them ever since I assume there’ll be something). My husband will buy presents but I know I’ll have to do the laundry etc like every other week-end. I am trying to organize something tough but as you said, we are never really free and careless and able to just sit on the sofa watching Grey’s or any other tv show…

    • Hi Elea! It is great to hear from you. Sending tons of love! I hope you get a beautiful Swiss and French Mother’s Day. Judging by the photos you have sent me of late, I know at least you will have had beautiful scenery to view. Hope you got a few moments to yourself. AND OMG– What is going to happen to Yang on Grey’s tonight?! Are they going to kill her off or what? (In USA, Grey’s airs on Thurs night… not sure what night it comes on in Europe, so if I find out before you I will not post any spoilers!) xoxoxo. 😉

      • Hi Charlotte! Didn’t really have a Swiss Mother day, and the French is on the 25th of May which is an Election day as well. I had a few moments to myself in Switzerland but well you know, even if I crave them I feel guilty to be away from my family and I miss them. Talk about the paradoxes of Motherhood!!! As for Grey’s I feel be able to watch it in a few minutes with my breakfast if my daughter doesn’t awake to early! Lots of love!!!

  5. Charlotte,

    What I like most about you is a little hard to pin down.

    As a young man, filled with a vigour Springtime only serves to nurture, I am tempted to say it’s your beautiful green eyes, so large they are like dinner plates. Then again, perhaps it’s your more delicate features, such as your distinctly feminine little fingers or your adorable feet, round as croquet balls. What can I say — it’s always been “my thing.”

    Your fashion sense is impeccable too of course, and I’ve always found your indifference towards trends to be intoxicating!

    You know what shows off your rotund figure best, and the “loud” colours you’re fond of, often worn in imposing diagonal stripes, tell the world that you are an individual…and a Mom who cares for her young before herself.



    • James, Dear,
      First of all, my eyes are blue, and although I do have delicate fingers, my feet are nothing like croquet balls, more like the mallets. So you may need to rub your eyes a bit and refocus. Either that, or you have been secretly looking at another mommy-blogger and mistaking her for me. Harumph!! Finally, while I am slightly pudgy, I would hardly call myself rotund. If this comment is to serve as your springtime wooing, I think you have some work to do. ;-0 Yours Truly, Char

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