Today is OUR day! The one day we are TRULY appreciated for everything we do. We are celebrated, have meals prepared for us and at least some of the household chores are done by someone else. A day meant for relaxation, a break from our mom duties…………but how long does it take for someone to ask, “where is the ______?” or “Mom, I’m hungry”, or “will you play with me?” Our families have the best of intentions to give us a break. But habits are hard to break and since Moms are the hub of the household, our family’s definition of “relaxation” may not match ours.
How many of us wish we could say “Thank you for the Happy Mother’s Day, now leave me alone”? I know it sounds harsh. In fact as soon as I type it, I feel instantly guilty and the voice in my head tries to convince me there is no way I really feel that way - my kids are a special gift and I love them so much, of course I want to be with them today. But no, I will not be persuaded by guilt and how I think I “should” feel. We’re tired. We need a break. We need to remind ourselves it’s ok to speak up and say so.
Why are moms so exhausted? If you are the parent of a toddler, the answer is obvious – parenting little ones is physically exhausting. Not only is it physically exhausting, if you don’t take good care of yourself it will be mentally exhausting as well. As your kids grow, there is less of a physical demand on you, but we are quick to fill that space with mental chatter:
Am I doing enough for them? Shouldn’t I be cooking healthier food? Shouldn’t I be spending more quality time with them? Am I exposing them to the right things? Am I doing enough to make them successful? Am I supporting them enough?
Instead of physically running after them, we are mentally chasing a checklist in our head of doing things “right”. Not only that, but we are quick to critique the quality of time we spend with our kids. Many moms feel like they should be giving more and then feel guilty when they believe their efforts come up short.
When I break it down like this it sounds ridiculous, however what we don’t realize is this hyper-mothering is praised in our culture. Case in point, the word Supermom is listed in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, defined as “an exemplary mother”. I’ll admit I’ve beamed with pride when someone called me a Supermom. I felt like “Yes, someone gets it! They see how hard it is to do all this every day.” Imagining myself walking around with a cape made me feel stronger.
But even though it feels good to be acknowledged in the moment, living up to this supermom ideal is not a healthy, or realistic, goal for moms to try to achieve. Supermoms live in the battle of busy, using their superhuman multi-tasking strength to check off all the boxes and keep control of the situation. Do we ever stop to question, what is driving us to do all this? Who is telling us to fight these battles? Who is deciding what goes on our to-do list? We need to step back and re-evaluate our motivation and make sure it is our best interest as well as our kid’s best interest.
A true superhero knows they must switch back to their alter ego and take a break. They don’t walk around using their powers 24/7. This is where many moms get it wrong, we need the down time. We need time to replenish ourselves, our energy and our mindset. We need to accept it’s not physically possible to give 110% to everyone, every minute of every day. Giving 100% is a burst, followed by a period of rest.
Today you’ll receive a card with “World’s Greatest Mom” or “#1 Mom” on the front. Your child will watch you open it with a beaming smile on their face. They believe these words with their whole heart. You are their one and only mom. They are not comparing you to anyone else. They are looking at what is right in front of them and loving you for everything you are in this moment. Happy Mother’s Day.
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I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.