I thought my first Mother’s Day was going to be blissful. I’m someone who loves my birthday (and being spoiled!), so I thought Mother’s Day would be another opportunity in the year to feel special and be treated like a queen.
That first year, I quickly learned that while you might be treated nicely on Mother’s Day, it’s still a reminder that YOU are the mom. The doer of everything. The milk supplier, the soother, the CEO of the parenting team.
People will applaud you on Mother’s Day, yes, but your kids still need you. You’re still at work because there are not real holidays from mom life, and you’re still the boss.
My child was four months old that first year, and I had only one request: the night before Mother’s Day, my husband would respond to all baby cries in the night while I enjoy lying horizontally in bed for eight hours straight. Moms, you know what a gift that is.
This intention was doomed to fail. My baby’s crib was in our bedroom and my parents were staying with us that night, so there was nowhere for me to escape. Still, I didn’t think I’d mind being woken up by the cries as long as I didn’t have to lift a finger to get the sweet child back to sleep.
It just so happened to be my boy’s worst night of sleep of all time in his four months. I had no choice but to help my husband, and we were up all night. My Mother’s Day wish was demolished before the day even started. The day followed with me crying as I tried desperately to enjoy writing time and later leaking through my shirt at a Mother’s Day yoga class. This first Mother’s Day set the bar pretty low.
The second year, I was invited to a girl’s wine trip in California and decided to spend Mother’s Day free from all kid duties. There would be absolutely no answering the midnight cries if I wasn’t there.
When Mother’s Day came and I started the day with a mimosa in a separate state from my son, those fizzy bubbles wrecked me with guilt. I missed my kiddo terribly, and when I came back, I swear my 16-month-old was mad at me for leaving him.
This weekend is my third go at enjoying Mother’s Day, and my husband has the seemingly perfect gift set up for me. The dog and I will drive up to a remote cabin and I’ll have the night and morning to myself – peace and quiet to read, write, and dare I say it – sleep. He and my son will drive up the second day to join me and we’ll hike and explore and be together. It’s the perfect combination of everything I want.
Still, I know better. I have no expectations of finding some flow state and cranking out pages of amazing material in my quiet time. If it happens, great! But the main thing I need to remember is that I’m a writer and a mother all days. I’m not saving all my ideas for this gift of time I’m being granted.
I’ve learned not to put holidays like these – or even dedicated writing time – on a pedestal, because first and foremost I am a mom.
The Mother’s Day gift I’d like to give myself and all mama writers this year is grace – grace for whatever level of quality writing makes it on the page while you’re also juggling everything that is motherhood. Grace for showing up day after day for both of these competing parts of your identity. Grace for working on our own holiday while maybe thinking about running away to write.
And hopefully some sleep.