So, today was Mother’s Day. When I saw my Mum on Friday, she asked me what my plans were. I told her that I was mostly hoping to stay in bed. All day. I was joking. Partly.
As it happens, I did stay in bed all day. With a migraine. Sucks to be me.
Mother’s Day has gotten kind of massive recently. Goodness knows the telly has been full of it. As have all the magazines. All the gifts we should give. All the meals we should cook. All the flowers we should send. It’s getting a little out of hand.
I did get some flowers this morning. They’re beautiful. (As is the colour of the wall behind them – we just painted our room. For the first time ever. There *may* even be a sneaky bit of glitter in there. I love it.)
Wes picked the flowers. From our neighbour’s garden. Not that the neighbour knows that. They were hanging over our fence. So it’s totally fine. Also, he’s blind. He’ll never even know.
I could hear them. Wes and the kids. Downstairs, making me ‘surprise’ pancakes. He asked Elvie to decorate some paper for him to wrap my gift in. She refused. Loudly. Although she did turn up by my bed shortly afterwards with a picture of an animal park, and one of a princess, with flowery braces on her teeth and a tiara made of hermit crab shells.
In the end, Joel made my wrapping paper. Because nothing says ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ like a book wrapped in a picture of a Screaming Death dragon. Except perhaps a small boy who’s full of a cold, horrendously grumpy and thinks he might be sick, or a five year old who’s unbearably angsty at the fact that there’s no such thing as ‘Children’s Day.’ Give me strength.
Mother’s Day can be tricky. The expectations can be huge. Fuelled in no small part by the heads of the advertising agencies. Or the buggers, as I like to call them.
Mother’s Day and I have a complicated history. As a child, I loved it. I wrote cards. I put on carefully choreographed shows. I constructed elaborate books depicting my Mum in various fictitious world-conquering scenarios using only photos from our trip to Center Parcs the summer before.
However, since becoming a mother myself, it’s all been a little more complex. I realised a couple of years ago that I was basically hoping that one single day, and the actions of my family on it, would demonstrate exactly what my worth is as a mother. (And indeed as a person. Given that 95% of my current identity is consumed by the two small people who are currently asleep upstairs.)
That’s a lot of pressure to put on one day. Needless to say we’ve had some failures. Of the epic kind.
There was the year we were in town buying flowers for our respective mothers and Wes told me to ‘pick one up for yourself, if you like.’ That was the night that I sobbed my heart out, curled up on the bathroom floor, because everyone was absolutely, totally failing to appreciate me.
And there was the year that we spent so long figuring out what to do for our own mums, that I got absolutely nothing. Not even a card. Because Wes had, by his own admission, forgotten that I was actually a mother as well. Ouch.
The problem is this: one day a year will never make me feel complete as a mother. Or a person. Not with all the toothy princess pictures in the world. Not even if it went perfectly. Better than all my wildest dreams. Because actually, the only place that kind of confidence can come from is me.
Me. Who finds an absolute steal of a holiday. In Cornwall. In August. And books it, and then immediately suffers buyers-regret because what if the weather is bad or the bungalow is dirty or the place is rubbish and everyone hates it and then they all hate me because I was the one that found it in the first place.
Me. Who has signed up to some really exciting online courses. And started a couple of craft projects. And begun thinking about the second book. And is now in an absolute spin because I can’t decide which thing to focus on first, and they’re all such long term goals and I won’t finish any of them this evening so maybe I shouldn’t start any of them but then nothing will happen at all and instead I think I’ll just go on Facebook and procrastinate and now I feel guilty and maybe I’ll just eat. That’ll help.
Me. Who is ordering parenting books left, right and centre in an attempt to bring some more structure, and calm into our approach at dealing with these littlies. But doesn’t really want to open them because what if it shows me that everything I’m doing is wrong and that I’ve screwed the kids up already and I might as well just hide under a rock for the rest of their childhood and leave them to fend for themselves because the damage is already done.
Me. And my slight tendency to emotionally over-react. To everything.
Yes, it’s Mother’s Day. But it’s just one day. And in reality – stinking migraine, whinging children, Screaming Death and all – I’m lucky. I have friends who’ve spent today in A&E with their babies. Friends who are raising their babies by themselves, and didn’t even get a lie-in. Let alone a card. Friends who don’t have their babies here to hold. Or their mums.
We’re all lucky. If we spent today with our mothers, or our children, or our siblings or our friends, then we can go to bed tonight and count ourselves blessed. Regardless of how it all went.
And we can get up tomorrow and start all over again.
Because that’s the beauty of motherhood, really. The beauty of being alive.
We get to start all over again tomorrow.
It may be Mother’s Day. But in the greater scheme of things, it’s just another Sunday. Just another day. No matter what the adverts tell us.
Tomorrow is Monday.
And who knows what we’ll do.
Bring it on.