Ah Mother’s Day. When we’re encouraged to laud the women who taught us how to tie our shoes, eat soup without clinking the spoon against our teeth, and to make beds with the corners tucked in. The woman who examined our research paper possibilities to make sure there was a woman for every man listed. Ok, maybe that last one’s just me.
Flowers, chocolates, brunch at Red Lobster. Perfume, cards and spa gift cards. All nice options. But I’m here, on the other side of a computer screen. I need a virtual gift to give you all. Not so much pearls, as pearls of wisdom.
Stop giving a shit.
Seriously, just stop giving a shit about 99% of whatever it is you’re worrying about. Field trips, homework, Fortnite, table manners that rival a chimpanzee’s, college acceptance letters, the right pre-school, sweat-pants, pacifiers, whatever.
Stop and cut yourself some slack, Mama, you’re doing great.
The fact that you would worry about those things tells me you care about your kids and want to do right. And you know what? That’s enough. The fact that you would. Leave it there. Pat yourself on your mom back, look in the mirror and say, “it’s enough. Caring is enough.”
Stop feeling like you need to check in on them every five minutes. Stop solving their problems. Stop managing their emotions. Stop fretting if they’re unhappy or hurt sometimes. Stop pretending you have the answer to everything or that you never screw up. You’re a mom. Even Captain Marvel screws up (like seriously, where was she in Endgame???)
Stop comparing yourself to any other mother, to the ones on Pinterest with their impossibly cute children and hats perched to throw saucy shadows on the ground. Stop jumping in the air trying to catch yourself in a pose that risks the ligaments in your knees. Stop feeling pressure to dress in matchy-matchy clothes for a family portrait. If you want to? Great. If not? Use Facebook in lieu of a baby book like the rest of us.
The point is, they’re not you and frankly, I’m not sure they exist outside some twisted Insta fantasy with rainbow unicorn icing. So stop trying so hard to live up to some imagined ideal. Because there is no ideal.
This one’s a bitch to tell you, but I’m nothing if not a bitch: It will never be enough. Ever. You will chase your tail in circles and still worry you’re not doing enough, because that is the nature of motherhood.
If people judge you for not showing up to your kid’s second grade graduation because you had to work, let them. If others judge you for staying home to write about it all and not earning (enough) money, let them. So what if you don’t like to bake with your kids. They’re fed, right? Don’t like to pretend play? Who the hell cares? In the large scheme of life, not playing My Pretty Pony with your kid or showing interest in how many kills they got in their latest video game obsession is not going to matter.
So go on. Let yourself be that 70s mother most modern mothers fantasize about. Pop open a can of Tab and let go of the stuff that’s outside of your control. And most of it is outside your control.
They lied to us all. All those glossy magazines and rah rah rah sing-a-longs. YOU CAN’T HAVE IT ALL. You can’t be a full-time career mom and volunteer for every field trip and bust through glass ceilings and be there after school with a hug and a snack and make your own slime colored with kale and give them all the attention they require and self-care and never lose your shit and all the other moms we’d all be IF IT WERE POSSIBLE. Listen to me, Mama:
That person does not exist.
So stop reading magazines that give you color-coded calendars which tell you how to organize your life so you can be something that has never, and will never, exist.
Too many of us spend a good deal of mother time trying to achieve a fantasy all the while pretending we’re not crying into our Pikachu cake fails when it doesn’t work out.
Stop wasting your time. You can’t do it all.
No, not even you, the one who is thinking this isn’t about her.
Motherhood is a damn job. But it’s impossible to nail down the description. Is it to make memories? To nurture? To supply a soft bosom? To be a punching bag for feelings and emotions that have no other safe space to land? To mechanically feed and water? Cheerleader, nag, scold and enforcer? Some days I am Brienne of Tarth, facing down whatever my kids throw at me with a stoicism bordering on pathological.
Other days I’m a literal walking sac of tears and mush, convinced I haven’t done enough to make their merry little lives even merrier.
You know what? I’m making it up as I go along. Some days I wake up determined to raise heroes who will go out and change the world. Some days if I can manage to peel a carrot for their lunches I’m good.
We get so bogged down in motherhood we forget we are individuals. That mother is a part, not the whole. It’s not the sole identifier. Take the damn day today to celebrate what you do the other 364 (and probably today as well), but never forget, that’s not ALL YOU ARE.
So on this day Hallmark put aside to elevate those mothers onto pedestals that they likely dusted and polished themselves, cut yourself some slack. Pop open a can of Tab, let your kids do some stuff for you. Hug them close and enjoy your Red Lobster dinner.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mamas.