So, how bad was your Mother's Day?
Posted May 10, 2016
It’s 4:56 p.m. We’re supposed to be at my mother-in-law’s house in four minutes. My oldest child is at the table drawing a picture for his grandma (because once again we forgot to buy a card). One of my toddlers is in tears and trying to rip off the dress my husband just wrestled her into and her twin sister is in my arms shrieking hysterically for me to carry her (even though I already am carrying her) and writhing like she’s on fire. She is still in her pajamas and her hair is tangled and matted, having thrashed around in her crib while being put in time-out a few minutes before for kicking and fighting me off like a street thug while I was trying to get her dressed.
Looks like we’re going to be late for dinner.
Speaking of which, we’ve already upset our families in the aftermath of everyone’s favorite game, “Whose turn is it to go where this holiday?” Today things came up and plans got changed at the last minute, and then changed again, and then totally mixed up and confused. Several awkward phone conversations later the plans for dinner were straightened out for good — but not until my husband and I had to have it out again over how to handle this same situation we find ourselves in every single holiday.
Meanwhile, during that delightful conversation, our 5-year-old kept begging for a snack (we had just eaten lunch an hour before) and our 2-year-old twins were upstairs, unsupervised, and had taken off their very full diapers to spray each other’s naked bums with the water bottle they swiped from the bathroom.
All of this led to a one-hour delay of nap time, which led to an epic battle over bedtime, which led to Round 1 of screaming in the crib, which led to Round 2 of screaming in the crib when they woke up 40 minutes later, which led to the total meltdown we found ourselves in as we were trying to leave the house to celebrate Mother’s Day with the family.
Happy Mother’s Day to me.
I’ve been a mom for 5½ years now, and I have yet to celebrate a Mother’s Day of my own that didn’t end up like this at least once during the day. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this.
In recent years I’ve noticed the Mother’s Day rhetoric shift. Really, it seems that all the conversations about motherhood have begun to change. Where once the dialogue centered around the glowing magnificence that is motherhood and the eternally beauteous qualities that exemplary mothers possess, today’s mothers are a bit more … well, real.
Thanks to social media and the blogosphere, the curtain has been pulled back on the archetype of mother, revealing scenes and scenarios not unlike the chaos found in my home this Mother’s Day. Where the masses once celebrated motherhood as the pinnacle of womanly achievement and worshipped the mother as a goddess/saint, a woman who exquisitely embodies all that is benevolent and virtuous and who magnanimously sacrifices all for the sake of her most cherished offspring, nowadays we’re a wee bit more cynical. Let’s face it: The reality of motherhood has made us that way — and then some.
Being a mother in today’s world, facing mountainous expectations and an endless stream of conflicting desires and duties, has pushed us to the point of insanity — and many of us have long ago fallen off the edge. At long last the openness of social media has allowed mothers the chance to see what it’s really like inside the seemingly well-kept homes of their equally well-kept peers. And what we’re seeing looks a lot less like a Hallmark commercial and a lot more like the madness of a world where adults are held hostage by teeny-tiny terrorists.
These days you see a lot more people pushing back against the impractical standards given to women and commiserating over the agonies of motherhood than you see trying to still live up to those standards. And it’s definitely a good thing; being able to come out of the “I actually kind of hate motherhood” closet is not only liberating, it’s the first step toward trying to create the kind of life as a mother you want to be living.
But … then what?
What’s next? How do you go from your rock bottom, from waking up to your children’s tears and falling asleep to your own, to … something better, I guess?
These days everyone’s talking about how it’s so hard but you’ve got to just suck it up and get through it. So, what we see is a generation of mothers who are either hating life or pretending to love it while Instagramming every picture-perfect moment (but secretly still hating it).
This, more than anything, is what I believe is causing so many mothers to feel like a failure: We have nothing to strive for, no model for what is actually possible, and little to no support for mothers who dare to succeed, to find a better way — because while we’re doling out the high-fives and virtual fist-bumps for our fellow failures, we’re harboring secret jealousy for the moms who actually/usually/mostly have their act together.
The last year, in particular, motherhood was excruciating for me, as my twins went from sweet little portable bundles of joy to walking, talking, demanding mini-monsters. Last fall I found myself in the doctor’s office asking for a new prescription for antidepressants, when in the middle of the appointment I suddenly said out loud, “Even if the pills make the depression go away, my life is still my life and I still have to live it.” My doctor looked at me blankly, then apologetically, with no words of comfort to offer other than, “I’m sorry, motherhood is really just so hard.”
That’s when I knew that things had to change. I had to find a better way.
And I did. I sought help on an emotional and spiritual level, learning to heal from the pain of not just the present, but my own past. I dug deep to find the true cause of my emotional upsets and uproot anything that had taken hold mentally and was not serving me or my children.
It took months of soul-searching, introspective work, but the result was nothing short of miraculous. I am happy. I am whole. I am truly healed. And my children have responded in kind, becoming the kind of calm, agreeable, well-adjusted children I thought was the stuff of fairy tales.
That’s why I’m launching the Heal Your Motherhood project. I know my chaotic life as a mom is not unique, but I know my path to complete healing is. I want to teach other mothers how to achieve the same kind of confidence, peace, and joy amidst the madness that I have found.
The Mother’s Day Meltdown of 2016 (and other incidents like it) have now become the exception in my life, not the rule. My family life is better than I ever dreamed it could be, and we're only going up from here.
Lindsay is a Certified Assertiveness Coach and spiritual teacher helping women solve their own problems, meet their own needs, and follow their inner guidance by listening to the lessons their emotions teach. Learn more at www.HealYourMotherhood.com.