Letting Go of Mother's Day Guilt

Someone I know posted this as her Facebook status a few days before Mother's Day:

I don't usually do the copy and paste thing, but the busier my kids get, the relevant this is.
Every year my children ask me the same question. After thinking about it, I decided I'd give them my real answer:
What do I want for Mother's Day? I want you. I want you to keep coming around, I want you to bring your kids around, I want you to ask me questions, ask my advice, tell me your problems, ask for my opinion, ask for my help. I want you to come over and rant about your problems, rant about life, whatever. Tell me about your job, your worries, your kids, your fur babies.
I want you to continue sharing your life with me. Come over and laugh with me, or laugh at me, I don't care. Hearing you laugh is music to me.
I spent the better part of my life raising you the best way I knew how. Now, give me time to sit back and admire my work.
Raid my refrigerator, help yourself, I really don't mind. In fact, I wouldn't want it any other way.
I want you to spend your money making a better life for you and your family, I have the things I need. I want to see you happy and healthy. When you ask me what I want for Mother's Day, I say "nothing" because you've already been giving me my gift all year. I want you.
If you feel the same way, feel free to copy and paste... I did! ❤️❤️
I think most all moms feel the same!! I love this!!

Every year around this time I see so many versions of this popping up in Facebook statuses and blog posts. And I think it's beautiful and wonderful. And then I see posts about "What I REALLY Want For Mother's Day" that talk about the long list of basic desires that mothers want to be able to attend to without interruption (showering, anyone?). And I totally identify with those, too.

The truth is, I have a love-hate relationship with Mother's Day. I love that there is a day dedicated to honoring mothers. I love that my husband and kids want to celebrate me. At the same time, it's a day that brings me a lot of guilt, because my idea of a good Mother's Day isn't always the same as what my family thinks is a good Mother's Day, and trying to find a balance between the two can be difficult. Sometimes, in fact, it feels like my kids need me MORE on this day than any other.

Case in point: every year, my kids want to make me breakfast in bed, but I am not a person who enjoys breakfast in bed, unless I'm in a luxury hotel on the beach with tons of pillows and a big fluffy down comforter and a room-service waiter to bring me coffee and fruit and chocolate croissants and mimosas. With the terrace doors thrown open so I can see the sun and hear the waves, with the sheer curtains billowing into the room, and my husband there to the moment with me (and by the way, this has never happened). In other words, I like the idea of breakfast in bed.

Typically, the tradition goes like this: hubby, who doesn't do a whole lot of cooking usually, and kids get up and make some version of the scrambled eggs- English muffin combo, bring it up to me and put it on my lap. Kids climb up on the bed and sit all around me, staring and asking for bites, because they have not yet eaten breakfast and they're hungry, too. At least one usually tries to climb into my lap along with the food, while the others slowly inch closer and closer until we're all sitting squeezed together on one side of our queen-size bed. All while I try to eat without spilling coffee all over and burning someone. Eventually, my husband steps in and forces the kids off the bed ("let's give mommy some space"), which is met with lots of arguing and resistance, culminating with him telling everyone they need to go downstairs so they can have breakfast, and I'm ultimately left alone to eat by myself.

So, this is where the guilt starts: with my family wanting to do something that they think is amazing and special for me, but deep down, it's a tradition that I REALLY don't enjoy. And, I know I'm supposed to be grateful for whatever they do for me, because, really, it's the thought that counts, but sometimes, I'm just... not. The thing is, I know that it's hard for kids to see beyond their own little worlds. It's hard for them to understand that what they think is wonderful and amazing might not be for someone else, and I don't want to crush their little spirits. I WANT them to want to do kind things for other people without feeling like what they chose to do isn't good enough. At the same time, I'd like to enjoy Mother's Day and all the things that go along with it, because, really it's the one day that I feel like I shouldn't HAVE to focus on everyone else's needs and desires before my own. And then, of course, it's hard to balance spending time with my kids against spending time with my own mother and giving my husband some time to spend with his mom.

This year, we tried something different. I invited my mom, my mother-in-law, my sister & her husband & kids, my sister-in-law & brother and their family to brunch at our house. And while I did have to do some work, once everything was ready, we had a really great day eating, hanging out, and relaxing as one big family. (And I think doing this also took some of the pressure off of my husband to plan a "perfect" Mother's Day celebration, so he was able to spend more time helping the kids focus on giving my something he knew I would like that they would be excited and proud to give me.)

You guys, that post I read on Facebook is wonderful and amazing, and TRUE. But sometimes, when you're in the thick of parenting young kids, when you are never alone and you are with them ALL THE TIME, when there is always someone calling for you, pulling at you, NEEDING you, it's hard to see the end-game. It's there, but you are working SO HARD to show your kids the love and attention and affection they need; to make them feel heard and accepted and valued, to give them limits while still letting them grow, that it's difficult to imagine the day when they will be grown up enough that you are able to say, "just you coming back is enough". To mamas who have made it: you have done an AMAZING job. To mamas still in the trenches: hang in there. Because, even though you know that, yes, "the days are long but the years are short", it is ok to need some time for yourself. Let yourself off the hook once in a while. Trust me, everyone will be happier for it.