The origins of Mother’s Day lie in the spiritual celebrations of maternal goddesses such as Isis of Ancient Egypt and even the Christian festival of the Virgin Mary. It was not until the 17th century in Europe that the day came to focus on actual mothers and this change came even later in America in 1908 when Anna M. Jarvis campaigned for a holiday in remembrance of her mother who was recently deceased. Our modern Mother’s Day, on which we honor all mothers or mother figures in our lives, grew out of Jarvis’s petition.
Really, Mother’s Day is simply about making mothers happy, yes? It is a day to say thank you to the mothers in our lives and to be thanked by those we mother. I am only on my second Mother’s Day this year but, for me, I just want to relax and smile on Sunday. Having a daughter makes me smile every day, of course, but it’s nice to have a day that simply says “You’re doing a good job, Mom.”
Because deep down, I do know I am a good mother. I know I love my daughter and most of the time, I do well. But there are still the other times. There are the moments of action or even thought that make me doubt myself.
I know I’m a good mother but…
- I lose my cool: I try very hard not to yell. When Rosie deliberately drops her food on the floor or slowly drags her crayon across the table top just for fun or screams and cries because she cannot have her way, I try to take a deep breath. I focus on making my voice stern but controlled. I concentrate on keeping my emotions in check so that she can learn to do the same when necessary. But, sometimes, I just grab her plate or the crayon from her her hand or yell “No!” Sometimes I even pound my own hand onto the table.
The times I feel most guilty is when she really isn’t being bad, but I lose it a little anyway. Like at the end of a long day, when I’m finally sitting on the couch trying to check an email on my phone, and she climbs her plump little body onto my lap but won’t stay still. And she just keeps climbing and moving and pressing her elbow into my chest, pulling my hair and knocking my phone out of my hand as she twists and turns. I don’t exactly yell at her at a time like this, but let’s say I’m not as nice as I’d like to be. I am usually guilty after and I kiss her and play a game with her to make up for it. But that doesn’t erase the behavior, does it?
- I don’t always want to share my food: I know. You think I’m evil. But it isn’t all the time. It isn’t even a common occurrence. Occasionally, though, I don’t feel like sharing my food with her. It’s not even that I don’t want to give her the food. It’s just that I want to eat my darn sandwich in peace. I don’t always feel like letting her take a bite, during which she will inadvertently knock the tomato off the turkey or rip the top half of the bread in two. Don’t crucify me, please. I always do share the food if she asks for it. I just don’t always feel like doing it.
- I don’t always play with her: I’ve heard about those moms. The ones who spend three or more hours a day sitting on the floor with their children, building Lego castles, sliding wooden puzzle pieces into the appropriate spots, coloring a race care red or Cinderella’s dress light blue. Of course I do these things with my daughter. But I certainly don’t spend hours sitting on the chevron rug of her playroom pulling toy after toy off of the shelves.
I sit with her; we build a few towers of blocks and feed a bottle to her baby. Maybe we draw some letters on her chalkboard-painted wall or try on some fun-colored wigs.
But after a little while, I leave her to play on her own. I go empty the dishwasher, pay the bills, or wrap a gift for a birthday party that weekend. I like playing with her, but sometimes there are other things I need to do.
- I make mistakes…a lot of them: I already wrote a post about the Cascade incident in which I also alluded to the swallowed hair clip debacle as well Rosie’s first big fall. I’d love to say those are the only mistakes I’ve made, but of course they aren’t. Some mistakes are small such as a night (or maybe a few nights) when I forget to put her nighttime diaper on before bed, causing her pajamas to be soaked with pee by the morning. Or the time I let her spend an entire day in a party dress with the matching panties laying on her thighs, still pinned to the tulle of the skirt.
Some mistakes are bigger. We had a scary few moments the other day when Rosemarie fell down our basement steps. While playing with her cousins, the door was accidentally left open. As she stood at the top of the stairs, her cousin shut the door, knocking her down the whole flight. Of course, I personally didn’t leave the door open and Anthony was also present (so I’m not taking all the blame, people), but I still should have made sure the door was shut while the kids played in that area of the house.
Rosemarie screamed for a few minutes. We kept an close eye on her the rest of the day and woke her up every two hours that night. Luckily, her only injury was a rug burn on her left cheek. But in the words of Vivian Ward, “Big mistake. Big. Huge.”
- I’m happy when she goes to sleep: I love being around Rosie. I love watching her play or dance around the living room to Barney. I love singing songs with her and watching her try to imitate my motions. I love when she cuddles with me, when she full force kisses me on the cheek with a big “Muah” sound followed by a proud little smile.
But I also love her nap time. I love the moment I lay her in the crib and pull the door shut as I leave the room. I love the hour or two I get to sit on my computer or watch Revenge without needing to rewind every five minutes to hear the dialogue.
I love when she goes to sleep for the night even more. I love taking out the cookies (which I will not have to share) and pouring a glass of milk. I love curling up on the couch and reading a new book or writing my blog or laughing at Friends until 1 am.
I love my daughter but I love my alone time too.
My hope is that while reading this, my fellow moms, you are not gasping in horror or shaking your heads in disgust but instead nodding along in agreement, understanding my thoughts and noting how you often feel the same way. I hope tomorrow on Mother’s Day, you feel even more confident about how good a mother you really are. Maybe you’ll feel a little less guilty about your own “bad” thoughts and your own mistakes after reading about mine.
So Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who, like me, are only human. You may make mistakes but you deserve tomorrow and many more. Just breathe and remember, “You’re doing a good job.”