If Mother’s Day really is about us we need to stop making it a lovely day for everyone else
Mother's Day should be about what we - the mothers - actually want
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Ah, Mother's Day. Please, let me paint a picture for you that has been repainted again and again since the dawn of time.
It’s a sunny Sunday morning, you doze peacefully listening to the clatter of activity downstairs, as the people you love most in the world make breakfast. You suddenly realise that your peaceful morning is dying on it’s legs. There’s a rumble of feet racing up the stairs, you look at the clock and it’s 7.02am. You sigh and brace yourself.
The door flies open and in race excited children followed by your harassed looking partner, eyeing you apologetically. One kid, usually the oldest throws a cup of luke-warm tea your way, staining the sheets you literally changed yesterday. A tray of ‘breakfast’ plops on your legs and even though you can see that the scrambled eggs are more shell than scramble, you plaster an enormous smile on your face and lie boldly, ‘This looks delicious! I can’t wait to eat it.’ By this point, your kids are jumping on the bed, there’s less tea in the cup than there is on your sheets and you realise they’re not leaving until you eat the scrambled shells. You grit your teeth and chow down, umming and ahhhing, telling them how much you love them even though you’ve just opened a handmade card that was filled with glitter. It becomes a struggle to maintain the joyful façade as you realise you’ll have to change the sheets again and hoover... again.
You look pleadingly at your partner and eventually, they say, ‘Let’s leave mummy to have a lie-in,’ and you sigh safe in the depressing knowledge that there is no way you're getting back to sleep. You heave yourself out of the glitter-tea-crumb bed and take the dirty plates down to the kitchen, which now looks like Mr Messy hosted an orgy in. Looking around – the kids are watching TV, and your husband is on the starting blocks of a 40-minute poo, so you set about cleaning up the carnage.
That in a nutshell is Mother’s Day, right? It’s a day that has traditionally been sold as an opportunity for mum’s to get a rest, to be appreciated, acknowledged and recognised. Instead, much like every other day, we’ve grown accustomed to putting our wants and needs behind that of everyone else’s. We accept the ‘breakfast in bed’ farce because we don’t want to hurt our children’s feelings and well, they enjoy doing it so much, don’t they?
But they’re not the only ones who’s feelings we're worried about hurting. Somewhere deep inside of most mothers is the fear that we’ll somehow offend society by admitting that actually, if we’re really honest, we just want to be left alone. Irony of all ironies, Mother’s Day is the one day of the year where we don’t want to mother. Say that out loud though and you’ll be hanged and pilloried from the nearest parenting forum, flogged in the virtual streets of social media while perfect parents chant, ‘Shame shame shame.’
Well, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way. Three years ago, I’d had enough. I sat my husband down and told him that as much as I appreciated the sentiment behind the Mother’s Day mayhem, what I actually wanted was to be left alone. I won’t lie; he didn’t get it at first but I explained it to him.
‘The thing is, it’s like buying presents for people. You can give someone what you want them to have, or you can ask them and give them exactly what they want. When you ask me what I want, already I feel loved and thought about and kept in mind and then when you deliver on that, it makes me feel so appreciated.’
‘I get that, but don’t you want to spend Mother’s day with your family?’ he replied. I looked him directly in the eye. ‘No,’ I said and I didn’t feel a bit guilty and neither should you. If Mother’s day is really supposed to be about us as mothers then we need to stop trying to make it a lovely day for everyone else. We spend our lives making other people’s life lovely and we are happy to do it (mostly), but for just one day, I want to focus on making my own life lovely.
I want to lie in without worrying about whether the kids have brushed their teeth, I want to go for a walk without having to be back in time for swimming. I want to watch crap TV on the big TV in the living room instead of on my phone because the kids are watching Teen bloody Titans. I want to eat food without having to cook three meals for everyone else first. If someone is going to make me feel guilty about demanding those things for one day of the year, then they can get in the sea and I won’t be throwing them a life-ring when they’re drowning, I mean of course I would, I'm just making a point.
So instead, this Mother’s Day try and picture a new scene. One where you’re dozing gently and the only noise you can hear is that of the kids being cajoled into coats and shoes by your partner who’s planned a full day out. When you rise calmly at whatever goddam time you please, you wander downstairs to find a note telling you how much they appreciate you and that they hope you have a wonderful day. Perhaps there’s a fresh fruit salad and a bunch of flowers but either way, the kitchen is clean and tidy and you get to live your best life for the next few hours.
If this sounds like your cup of tea (one that doesn’t end up splashed all over your bedsheets) send this article to your partner, explain that this is the Mother’s Day you want. Tell them to call up their mates, make a plan to get all the kids out of all the houses, club together and give the mums the downtime that they so desperately want and need this Mother’s Day.
I know this isn't an option for everyone, I recognise that a Mother’s Day to yourself is the privilege of people who have partners, a support system, a village. So, if there’s a single mum in your life then throw them a life-ring. Call them, offer to have their kids the following weekend, or get your partner to take her kids too on because every mother deserves a day to herself.
Related Cat Sims' features:
- As divorce enquiries reach record high I talk to the women who regret theirs (opens in new tab)
- Kinkeeping: what is it and why this term is dangerous (opens in new tab)
- Children's Mental Health: How I talk to my kids (opens in new tab)
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Cat Sims is a writer, content creator, podcaster (You're never the only one (opens in new tab)) and author of 'The First Time You Smiled (opens in new tab)' who is still trying to figure out the whole 'adulting' thing. She's made a living out of documenting her failures and successes as a 40-year-old woman, mother, and wife across various social media platforms.
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