So, Mothers’ Day. Some people refer to it as a silly Hallmark holiday, some use it to rail against the lack of recognition mothers’ work receives on a day-to-day basis.
I wholeheartedly embrace Mothers’ Day. I like it because it provides a space to evaluate feelings which we are too short of time to think about in our daily lives. My pregnancy and the birth of my daughter were traumatic to some extent (although I am aware some women go through worse than I did), and there are still many aspects of both that I need to come to terms with.
My first Mothers’ Day was exactly a week after my daughter was born. Unsurprisingly, it had been a highly emotional week in which life as we had hitherto known it was turned upside-down. Her dad waited until the exact time of her birth to give me a beautiful card and some posh chocolate. I can see what his plan was and understand that one can find it quite endearing. It was just unfortunate that she was born in the late afternoon, so I spent the whole day feeling a mixture of disappointed, confused, guilty (for caring) and sad.
My second Mothers’ Day was the day before her first birthday. My relationship with my husband had already deteriorated and we had had a bittersweet year marvelling at the wonder that was (is!) our daughter, but wondering painfully if we’d ever witness the same firsts with another child. I was looking for a sign from him that he understood exactly what I was feeling and that he valued the contribution my mothering made to our little family unit. It was too much pressure for each of us and it all went horribly wrong.
But one thing about which I was glad was that Mothers’ Day gave me an opportunity to reflect on the feelings which the past year, my daughter’s birth and our thoughts on the future had given rise to. I did of course spend a lot of time thinking about the birth and pregnancy the rest of the time too, but never without a tinge of guilt that I was dwelling on a past I couldn’t change.
It was also important that I had an official day to think about all of this which wasn’t my daughter’s birthday. In my opinion it is probably impossible to avoid a moment of melancholy on the anniversary of a child’s birth, but I didn’t want to get into the habit of making my daughter’s birthday all about me.
This year my plan has worked quite well. I have been more relaxed about her birthday as well as about my expectations of her dad than I had anticipated. They made me a brilliant card together and gave me a lovely bouquet of flowers as well as some posh chocolate (I think it’s officially our tradition now). We had a brief trip out doing something which my daughter enjoys so we could enjoy her smiles and happiness, and then I had the rest of the afternoon to myself as I do most Sundays.
In conclusion: I do of course enjoy being spoilt, but I also value having the opportunity to reflect on my role as a mother and my relationship with my daughter, which can be difficult to do in the day-to-day rush of normal life. Just as people visit cemeteries as a tribute to lost loved ones, to me the purpose of Mothers’ Day is to pay homage to our identity as mothers.