Mother’s Day is here at last. With it come all the poems, songs, and sentiments about mothers that everyone shares. The result can often be something unexpected. The problem is that mothers in general don’t like to toot their own horns. They live a life of service to others; a life of sacrifice; a life of championing others; a life of happiness; and sometimes a life of struggles. All the sentiments, though well meant, often remind mothers of their failings. The reason being, unfortunately no one mother starts out the perfect or most knowledgeable mother. So, please, no guilt for Mother’s Day this year.
All these well-meaning sentiments of how great, wonderful, and even perfect mother is often sets mother on a pedestal that is scary. The glowing pedestal of motherhood perfection – the title of “good mom” – often feels unattainable because all mothers start out not knowing a thing. They’ve had the examples of their mother and grandmother. But, those examples are often observed through the perception of a teenager or young adult, so it’s a bit skewed.
Motherhood is not a destination and it is not the same for every mother. It starts under differing circumstances for all mothers. None of us really knows what we’re getting into with that first baby. All we know is that the baby is now here and completely dependent on the mom. If someone’s complete dependence on mom doesn’t bring to mom’s awareness how imperfect she is, nothing else will. I remember looking at my first daughter and wondering what I had gotten into. Fortunately, I had my own mother to help me for that first week and a great husband, who walked all night long with the baby so I could sleep, after that.
If ever there is a steep learning curve in an occupation – motherhood has it. And there are so many messages about “best practices” and “good mothering” that it’s hard to remember that motherhood is something immensely personal. Each mother develops her own way of mothering over time. This development is based on experiences, the personality of the children, the personality of the mother, current life experiences, education, occupation, hobbies, etc.
The guilt mothers feel on Mother’s Day comes from mothers knowing they don’t fit into a single mold. No two mothers are the same, and yet Mother’s Day often helps to make mothers feel like if they aren’t a June Cleaver or Martha Stewart then they aren’t doing their job’s right. No mother should feel guilty on Mother’s Day if they are doing their best and motivated out of love for their children.
The love mothers give to their children is what is radiated back on Mother’s Day. Our children see us through a perspective that is colored by the love we share with them, and on Mother ’s Day, they want to give some of the love back. Accepting our children’s gifts of love is a way to show them that we love them and love what we are doing. So, let’s put the guilt, and negative messages that we give ourselves, aside today and enjoy the pure love being shared. Please, mothers no guilt on Mother’s Day.