I haven’t always loved Mothers Day. In fact, I actually grew to hate it.
As a young mom of tiny little kids, it was fun and new and I loved being part of this new society of “moms”. But as my kids have grown and life has become more complex, I have truly learned to hate Mother’s Day.
I myself am confused by my learned hatred of it, simply due to the fact that all I ever wanted as a kid was to grow up and be a mom. That’s it. I had no other aspirations than that of becoming a mother. I wanted to be like my mom. She was always planning things. She was always cooking good food. She was always comforting us. She was the one I longed to talk to and divulge every detail of my life to. It sounded like a good gig.
Shortly after we married (and I mean shortly as in 6 months), I literally felt that biological clock ticking. Maybe it was because I was already 25 years old and my friends were already having baby #2, but boy that pull was real. I was so anxious to start a family.
So what could’ve happened to cause me to hate such an amazing day where we celebrate moms everywhere?
Well, I’m writing it here, in hopes that my kids will one day read this and hopefully get to a place where they love celebrating mother’s or father’s day. It would be even better if they never even had to despise the holiday and were just more mature than their mom.
Here are three reasons I learned to hate Mother’s Day and how I re-learned to love it. Hopefully here in this post you will find some helpful information on how to LOVE MOTHER’S DAY too.
Fabricated Truth #1—-I found parenting to be a burden.
I got married with big dreams. We’d have cute babies. We’d tuck them in to bed together each night. We’d help with homework when the kids got older. We would each take our turns disciplining the children. We would sit in church together each Sunday and be a happy little family. Not too much of a big dream is it? Doesn’t seem all that unrealistic does it? Easy peasy.
But that isn’t the dream God had in mind. Thankfully for us, our first three children came quite easily and sometimes even unexpectedly. Along with those three children, came big church callings for my husband. Early morning meetings with a Bishop, then Young Men’s President, then Ward mission leader, followed by Bishopric member, then stake Young Men’s President, then Bishop, and now Stake Presidency. (For those who are confused, these are unpaid ministry callings in the LDS Church–just FYI)
On occasion he was around to help coral the kids into church clothes. On occasion he would help with homework. On occasion I got to sneak out with friends and do a girls night.
But most of the time, I sent my husband off to serve while I stayed home with the kids. I brushed their teeth, potty trained, cooked and cleaned, kept up on housework and laundry, did the science projects, typed the reports, did the disciplining, kept them quiet in church, cleaned the throw up, kept the fevers down, drove to all the appointments, kept the sanity at home all alone. Or at least that is how I felt. ALL ALONE. And I didn’t feel like it was my place to complain. After all, my husband was off doing the work of the Lord.
And when people would ask “how are you doing with all of this?” I would smile and say, “I can’t complain.”
But what I wanted to scream and yell is, “I didn’t sign up for this!!” This wasn’t my dream. It was nothing like my dream. It was one mad momma sitting in church trying to get 3 rambunctious kids to be quiet and getting absolutely nothing out of church. But I smiled and kept pretending that I should feel like the luckiest girl in the world. But I didn’t. I was ALL ALONE.
And so parenting became a burden. I never got a break. I did it from sun up to sun set. And I made myself to believe that I was almost single parenting. I wasn’t really, but I felt burdened and unbalanced. And I made this great untruth seem like my reality. I was single parenting and exhausted and felt alone. (Please understand that this is not because my husband didn’t want to help…..it was because I kept telling him that I had it all under control—HA!)
And because I felt burdened by the work of motherhood, Mother’s Day became a day that I had grown to hate. Why celebrate the one thing that causes me the most grief?
Fabricated Truth #2— I wasn’t as good as my mom and my mother-in-law
Let’s face it. No matter the wrong your mom may have done while raising you, you have chosen to block it out and all you can remember is how amazing she was. You remember the good. You remember ALL THE GOOD! At least that’s how it was for me. I could only remember the good stuff. My mom was an angel. Truly. On cold days, we would walk in from school and warm chocolate chip cookies would waft into our noses and we would devour them with pleasure. I remember this happening on many occasions. Truth is, it might have been like a total of 3 times, but to me it feels like it was every single cold day.
My mom could make a meal out of anything. And every single thing she made was delicious. I mean it. Every. Single. Thing. She whipped up delicious desserts, made the most glorious cakes, homemade soups, and the world’s best mashed potatoes.
And I——well I fell short. I felt so overwhelmed at just doing the parenting thing, that making warm chocolate chip cookies and whipping up delicious meals was just exhausting to think about. I was never going to be as good as my mom at “being a mom”. Plain and simple. How could I ever compare? And believe me. That is what I did. I compared.
There was no Pinterest. There was no Facebook or Instagram. I was succeeding at the comparison game just by comparing myself to my mom and my mother-in-law.
And that’s another story. My mother-in-law. Anyone who knows her will tell you how incredible she is. And she is. No denying it. And she was and is everything I’m not. She is organized, spiritual, guided, meticulous, healthy, caring, and nurturing. How could I compare with that? I had even convinced myself that my husband probably compared me to his mom and was completely disappointed in what he got.
Fabricated Truth #3—-I was a disappointment to my kids
I’ve been known to yell at my kids. And truly I am someone who absolutely detests any kind of contention, but I sure had my fiery moments where yelling seemed to be the only thing that worked (not really of course). Especially as my kids have gotten older (a.k.a. teenagers), the heated arguments have increased. And because I was the parent who was around the most, I was usually the one taking the brunt of the beating. I felt like a disappointment when I couldn’t take them to a friends’ house when they wanted, or when I made something for dinner that one of them didn’t like. Or when I ran the vacuum while they were watching a show, or when I woke them from a nap, or when I enforced a curfew or picked them up too early, or when I asked them to take out the garbage.(Insert a thousand eye rolls here) Basically I felt pummeled and truly started to believe that I was a complete disappointment to my kids.
So when Mother’s Day came around, I felt like it was this contrived day where my kids were expected to say, “Love you mom” and “You’re the best mom ever!” While behind the scenes they weren’t saying these things on a regular basis. So I felt like Mother’s Day had become quite a farce and not sincere at all. I was so over it. Why all the fuss? Why treat me awesome one day of the year?
These are the three fabricated lies that led me to despise Mother’s Day. But this year it’s different. Let me shed some light on my education, and how this celebrated day feels different to me now. (And by education, I mean education……I read books. Lots of books.)
Truth #1—Motherhood is a Joy
In my research on Joy (another blog post coming all about what I found “Joy” to really mean), I came to find that Joy has very little to do with happiness. It has to do with peace and calm and assurance that everything will work out. So while I’ve sought joy in Motherhood, I set out to fix the reasons that I had become so burdened. Believe it or not, it had a lot to do with my marriage.
I wasn’t communicating with my spouse. I wasn’t telling him where I needed him to be or where he could lift and help. I was so concerned about making sure that he was on time for every meeting, and that he fulfilled his duties in his sacred callings, that I took it on myself to “DO IT MYSELF”. Note to any of you reading this that fall into this trap—–the “DO IT MYSELF” mentality is dangerous. Basically, Satan would love for you to feel like you can do it yourself. The world will tell you that you are powerful. That you can do anything and no one can stop you, and you are capable of great things!! There are memes and quotes and books and authors who will preach this all day long. But the truth is……this is setting you up for failure. And Satan lies in wait for this to happen much like a spider in a web waits for his prey.
I think of it much like climbing a mountain. You can buy the right shoes, pack the healthiest snacks, take plenty of water and plan your route. You set out on a sunny day, you’re ready, you’re in shape, and up the mountain you go. You get to the top, you take your selfie to show the world how awesome you are, and then a rattlesnake sneaks up and bites you on your leg. You have no cell service and no one at your side. How prepared are you now? All alone, you must face the fact that you’re probably going to die. But you chose to do it yourself. You chose to show the world how infallible you are. Yet mortality now stares you in the eye. What might have been different if you’d done it with someone??
That serpent is just waiting to take you down.
So get that “DO IT MYSELF” parenting approach out of your head. Seriously. Get rid of the idea that you should be able to do it alone.
Now sit down with your spouse and talk about raising those kids together.
My husband and I had to take a long look at what we’d become. We weren’t functioning very well as two individual parents. We had plenty of miscommunication, failures, frustrating conversations, and misguided expectations. We had to do a total revamp on the way we were raising these kids, and it came with regular conversations and extensive planning. (I will write another blog post on steps we took to re-ignite and fix our marriage of 17 years of getting it wrong.)
But for now, let me just say, don’t do it alone. Ask for help. I promise you that parenting shouldn’t feel like a burden. If you are parenting as a couple, and attacking it from all angles, I promise you that it will become a JOY and even the hard days can be fun. I can’t tell you the laughter that we are able to have behind closed doors, as we look back at a conversation with a teen. We have to laugh to get us through it. And doing it without my husband doesn’t even seem feasible. So to overcome the burden of parenting, ask for help!
(If you are single—divorced or widowed, might I suggest going to a family member that can help to lift your load)
In the book “Let God Love You: Why we don’t. How we can.” By Wendy Ulrich, she writes about relationships, both marital and other. It is a fantastic book and I wish all married couples would read it. I read it while I was in depression and literally picked it out because the author’s names was Wendy. It is one of my favorite books and has given me deep insight into marriage and why I struggle to be seen the way God sees me. It was a very educational journey to be sure.
“To successfully navigate the power struggle, we have to open ourselves to the possibility that something in us needs changing instead.” —-Wendy Ulrich
Truth#2— I am enough. Without comparison to anyone else, I am enough as a mom.
Comparison is the thief of joy.
Patricia Holland wrote in her book “To Mothers—carrying the torch of faith and family” with her husband Jeffrey: “May I stress that this stripping ourselves of envy and pride is a poignant, almost painful description of what we must be willing to do. Furthermore, when we have undergone such a potentially painful “stripping” of an adverse trait, we must then help our daughters and granddaughters and the young women who come under our influence do the same. Heaven only knows how much the world uses envy and pride and worldly glamour in our society. We have to walk away from these things, but this will not be easy to do…….If we would not “lift” ourselves up with these cursed temptations of envy and pride, God would gladly step in and do the “lifting” for us! Only He can lift us up where He wants us and where we really want to be. We can’t get there by clawing or clamor, by cattiness or cutting others down. We certainly can’t get there by vaunting ourselves “up”.
When are we all gonna wake up and ask ourselves the right questions? The typical “guilt-ridden” mom compares herself to her all-too-perfect friend who takes her kids on creative outings, or decorates their kids’ rooms by theme, or has a chore chart that is functioning perfectly. I want you to do something. Clap for her. Good for her. She is doing a great job over the kids that were sent to her. But her success as a mom is for those kids.
Let’s focus on you and your kids. Guess who they weren’t sent to? YOU!! Not to her. Not to your sister, and not to your mom. To YOU!! They were sent to you. Now look at the things that you’re doing with your kids. STOP! I know you are already starting to compare and you think you don’t do anything good.
How about a child that is a challenge. Can you imagine anyone loving that kids the way you do? Perhaps you are really good at keeping your cool. Perhaps you have long conversations and you are really good at listening. Maybe you have taught your kids to make healthy eating choices. Perhaps you speak openly about religious topics and so your kids are learning about Christ before they even get to seminary in high school. You might even have similar talents as your kids, and so who better to help them hone those art, music, cooking, whatever skills than you?
It’s okay to clap for your friends. But then you need to stop and clap for you. Because that’s what the angels in heaven are doing. They’re clapping and cheering you on.
“In the gospel of Jesus Christ you have help from both sides of the veil and you must never forget that. When disappointment and discouragement strike, and they will, you remember and never forget that if our eyes could be opened we would see horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see riding at reckless speed to come to our protection. They will always be there, these armies of heaven, in defense of Abraham’s seed.”—– Jeffrey R. Holland
Truth #3—- I don’t need the world’s validation or even my own kid’s validation to know I’m a good mom
I have come to understand through challenge after challenge, that the greatest way to understand how you’re doing as a mom comes from a deep sense of calm. That alone has become my greatest guage in how I am doing. My kids aren’t always going to like the way I parent. But as I make decisions regarding their well-being, if I’m making that decision out of love and not a power trip, then I am calm. I become reassure that I’m making the right move. The second I make a decision because I want to be right, then I lose the spirit of that parenting moment and I always lose. I am not trying to be my kids’ friend.
I am their steward. With my husband, we are their caretakers and we are responsible to nurture and bring them up so they respect others, love God, and serve. If my parenting tactics are based on those 3 things, then I always win.
Let me tell you another thing. Stay on your knees and be silent.
We are currently struggling so hard with one of our teens. Their anger has intensified. They are belligerent and spiteful. It has become so contentious in our family and we are at a loss of what to do for this particular child.
Last Sunday night I was on my knees praying for this child. “How can I help them? Please help me to know what to do.” Then I waited. My mind started to wander and I decided that I would get up the next morning and write this child 5 cards for 5 days. The cards would be in sealed envelopes and would contain confidence-boosting messages about the good things that I see them doing. I finished my prayer. I told my husband what I planned to do the next morning. He thought it sounded like a great idea. The next morning I did just what I planned. I got up and wrote 5 cards. I sealed the envelopes.
Later that day, something really hard happened. Our child went missing. Amid the panic and fear of where this child had gone, anger and disappointment filled my heart. I was so mad at one point, that I actually considered tearing up the cards. But something deep inside warned me to do no such thing.
Add 2 hours of sheer panic here.
Then we found out where our child was. It was a lack of communication and a complete complacency that anything had been done wrong. When the child returned home I simply hugged them and held my anger in. I asked the question, “What can we do to help you?” This child said, “Maybe you could tell me once in a while the things that you notice I’m doing well on”. I walked out of the room, went right over to those 5 sealed envelopes and handed them over to my child. Their bewilderment was incredible. I was able to explain that I had written them earlier in the day, so that they understood that it was done in a place of sincerity.
Wow. I learned something very important in that moment. We may not ever understand our children completely. We may not even understand how to parent them. But God does. He understands them because he is their Heavenly Father and he will not and cannot let us fail when we ask for his help. And you know what? That awesome idea I had while I was waiting on my knees—That wasn’t mine. I see that now. My mind wandering wasn’t mind wandering at all! I was receiving an answer about what that child would need the very next day. And guess what? God probably also knew that we’d face a critical situation and those notes would be crucial in those tense moments. But we couldn’t have foreseen the events of that next day.
It taught me a lot about parenting. It also taught me that I will absolutely succeed as a parent as long as I keep God in the details. And if he loves my child enough to send me a message to write 5 notes, then how much does he love me too??
I love Mother’s Day! I absolutely love it. I feel loved. I feel like I’m winning even when it’s discouraging. Coming to love Mother’s Day has come with critical co-parenting and communication with my spouse, to never compare myself to anyone else, and that I only need God’s validation. It is a celebration of the most magnificent role in the world. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Love yourself. Love your children. Applaud your efforts and you too can learn to LOVE Mother’s Day and everything that it represents.
Restore yourself, friends.