Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Making Peace with Mother's Day
And yet, like many women, I have mixed emotions about Mother's Day. I understand that it can be a very uncomfortable, painful time for some women and I don't mean to suggest that I've got it rough, but the day does make me think. I knew my own mother did not love the day, so early on I began the tradition of writing letters to each of my children to let them know how grateful I was to be their mother and how much I loved them. I hoped that would stave off any negative emotions about the day. Alas, a few have started to creep in.
There are always talks in church about how saintly mothers are. How mothers sacrifice so much for their children. Mothers take care of everything for everyone. Mothers are so conscientious, remembering all the little details to make things nice. Mothers have a "queenly elegance" (actually quoted from a talk on Sunday). Mothers are gentle, kind, loving, always there for you, ready with a warm meal and a smile, staying up late just to hear about your evening's outing.
Who wouldn't want to be praised for doing all those things? I'm sure I would-- if I actually DID them! But I'm not that kind of mother. Consequently this is my problem with Mother's Day. I get credit for doing and being something I'm not. I feel guilty because I'm NOT a martyr. I'm tormented because I'm happy!
I can easily tell a child that I'm busy, they'll have to wait. I don't keep a perfectly tidy house, but I do insist that my children do their chores. I encourage the 5 year old to make her own sandwich if she's hungry. I don't have beautiful flower beds in my front yard or a vegetable garden. My girls do not have matching bedspreads because they won't even make their beds so why would I waste money on nice bedspreads. I firmly insist that their school work must be done even if their friends are standing on the porch asking to play. I'll turn off the TV if I think they should be doing something else. I think it's good for them to see me doing things I enjoy instead of just waiting on their every need. I happily and regularly date my husband, leaving the older kids home to tend the younger. I'll tell them in no uncertain terms to try harder if they aren't doing something well. I don't ensure that every set of teeth is brushed every day. There are occasional tears when I do the girls' hair. I threaten their utter destruction when they are disrespectful to me.
I also teach them to read and help them with their school work. I teach them piano lessons and make sure they practice. I get pretty good food on the table almost every day. I read scriptures with them and read massive amounts of books to them. I set a good example of taking care of my body. I laugh with them and drive them all over the valley to their activities. I trust them and their abilities to figure things out for themselves. I encourage their talents and expect them to be their best. It's okay if they are mad at me if I am doing what is best for them.
When it's all said and done and the last of my children is out on his or her own, I hope to have raised a brood of children who are good, strong, dependable adults who will work hard and love their spouses and children. I hope they love the gospel and live it. I hope they will give of themselves to those things that matter most.
I'm fairly certain that no child of mine will every refer to their "Angel Mother". They'll know how it really was. I hope they'll know that although I may have lacked queenly elegance and was never much for details and home decor, I loved them more than anything and thought they were the most fantastic, brilliant children ever. Even if I knew that every other mom thought the same of their children.
"There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one."
So to all of us good mothers out there, Happy Mother's Day!