The myth of Mother's Day - commercial hype, disappointment and changing up the rules


Long before we were married, Des forgot Valentine’s Day. I don’t know how he missed the hearts in the store windows, the repetitive diamond commercials or the red roses that beckoned on every Manhattan street corner but somehow, he did. When he arrived home to find me in a disgruntled and disappointed snit, he gave me a big hug and kiss and said, “I’m so sorry but, with you, every day is Valentine’s Day.” Cheesy, right? Here’s the thing though,I fell for it. Because it’s kinda true.

Since then, we haven’t gone out on Valentine’s Day -- which is not to say that we don’t celebrate -- we most certainly do, but on our own terms. Rather than battle overcrowded restaurants with overpriced meals, we now put the kids to bed and enjoy a nice dinner and bottle of wine at home. I daresay that Valentine’s Day 2008 just might be the cause of our identical triplets… which leads me to Mother’s Day.

I’m not sure why, but I consistently seem to fall for the Mother’s Day hype. I fell especially hard in 2009, when we had five kids under five. People would stop me on the street to tell me what a great Mother’s Day I was going to have. “This is your day,” they said. “This Mother’s Day will be all about you.” “Don’t you dare lift a finger Dear, this is the one day a year that you get to relax.” I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that I fell victim to this flawed thinking on multiple fronts.

The reality is that Mother’s Day was not “my” day and it was most certainly not all about me. While I would have relished the opportunity to stay in bed until noon and not lift a finger as I’d been advised, I found that by 9AM, I had changed about ten diapers, done two loads of laundry, been spit up on at least three times and not yet had a cup of coffee. So much for the one day a year I was supposed to relax! I had fallen hard for the “Myth of Mother’s Day” and as a result, spent the day much like that Valentine’s Day long ago – disgruntled and disappointed – with an alarming dose of post-partum tears tossed in for good measure! I sadly succeeded in making that Mother’s Day miserable for myself.  But, much like that day when Cupid was a no-show, I learned a lot from what we now refer to as “The Mother’s Day Meltdown.”

1. Every day IS Mother’s Day. You can’t turn off your kids or roll over and make them go away. Trust me, I’ve tried. It didn’t work. So, on Mother’s Day, I think it’s best to recall what the point really is… which is not to escape from your children and responsibilities but to embrace them. To give thanks for the small things we take for granted -- like ten fingers and ten toes or sloppy wet kisses or someone small who wants nothing more than an “Uppie”. And, if someone else offers to bring you breakfast in bed, well, that’s ok too – just don’t count on it!

2. Moms deserve more than one day a year to relax. And, it’s up to us as mothers to make the time to do so. While I dream of long bubble baths with candlelight and a cup of tea (or better yet, a glass of wine!), it’s just not happening. Were I ever to get into a warm, sudsy tub, I’m sure I’d be joined by at least one small tot… or worse, one very large dog. So, I’ve found other ways to get in a bit of R&R on a regular basis -- a book club and occasional girls night out do the trick for me; they give me something to look forward to once or twice a month, rather than some supposed day off that only comes once a year… and truly never comes at all.

3. It’s not all about you.  Mother’s Day, like most days, really isn’t all about me. What about my Mom? What an interesting dilemma this holiday presents when you become a mom yourself yet still have your own Mom to consider. On this day, like most days, I find it best to defer to my Mom’s wishes. This is how I found myself on a Yankee Stadium tour with a two year old and a newborn a few years ago… it wouldn’t have been my top choice but, if you can’t indulge your own Mom on Mother’s Day, well, what’s the point?!

My Mom and I haven’t always seen eye to eye but I’m so grateful to her for so many things… especially for the ability to see the silver lining in almost any cloud. I guess you could say that thanks to my Mom, I truly believe that every day is Valentine’s Day and I’m proud to have reached the point in life where every day is indeed Mother’s Day.

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