Mother’s Day Isn’t Just About Me

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I found myself nodding along with the post, “Dear Husbands: Mother’s Day Is Not About Your Mom,” feeling all too much the recent stress of trying to plan a Mother’s Day gift for my mom, a craft from my kid for both my mom and mother-in-law and the great-grandmas, and a plan for Sunday that I would enjoy but would also give my husband time to see his mom. But as I read, I realized despite a few good points, I didn’t entirely agree with the conclusion.

Mother’s Day is a chance to honor the mom “in the trenches” — that’s definitely me. But when I’ve been at my lowest point, both my mom and my mother-in-law jumped right into that trench with me to pull me back out without hesitation.

When I decided I hated the daycare my 3-month-old was in and I didn’t know what to do, my mom literally dropped everything to fly from California and live with us for six weeks in our two-bedroom apartment and take care of my son who refused to sleep anywhere but literally on a person. She cleaned, cooked, and dealt with a mom (Me! I was that mom — I was crazy!) who freaked out about milk schedule and amounts, and asked ridiculously paranoid questions about her ability to take care of an infant.

A mere four months earlier, when I gave birth three weeks early, my mom changed her flights at great expense and took time off work to come take care of me. You know that whole “First 40 Days” thing where the new mom should just have to eat and breastfeed and not lift a finger? I got to do that for 21 days, but with Italian food and endless cold deli-meat sandwiches instead of the traditional chicken soup.

When my son was 5 months old, we moved to Jacksonville, where we now live within 25 minutes of my husband’s family. I work from home and childcare is essential. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve texted my mother-in-law at 9 p.m. the night before saying, “So I just got scheduled on a last-minute call for 9:30 a.m. tomorrow — any chance you could babysit?” and she says yes. Not once has she ever made it feel like a burden when I know she’s completely dropped everything.

My son and I both got hand foot and mouth last August (I do not recommend this), and I had a huge work project to finish up. I was crying and had no idea how I was going to get anything done. My mother-in-law said, “I’ll come over tomorrow, all day, just lay in bed and rest.” So I laid in bed and wrote all day and she played with my son, fed him, put him down for his nap, and washed all the dishes in my sink.

I have been blessed with extraordinary helpers in my mom and mother-in-law. I know that, and I know that there are so many who get no help from their families, moms who are completely in the trenches and the grandmas are up at the top of the trench throwing more dirt on top of them and offering totally unhelpful suggestions and maybe kicking more dirt in for good measure.

Our relationships are not perfect. But on a day to honor mothers, I want to make sure I do something to honor mine, and I want my husband to honor his. Knowing firsthand how hard this mom thing is, I am so thankful for all the work my mom did raising me, and for how much work my husband’s mom did raising him.

I’m not suggesting that any of us make the day completely about the grandmas and build up unhealthy resentment. It’s nice if the focus moves toward moms actively parenting young children because, whew, do we need a break. And it should be acknowledged that we, the moms with kids at home, are the ones wiping boogers with our bare hands and are “MAMA MAMA MAMA” to kids who suck so much energy (we love them SO MUCH but, oh, do they suck your energy). We’re doing this while trying look halfway decent, meal plan, schedule the whole family, and work — it’s all work, whether your boss wears a suit or Mickey Mouse pajamas.

But, when planning a brunch or a spa day or shopping, I think we can and should carve out time to acknowledge our moms and mothers-in-law on Mother’s Day, whether that is with a card, a craft, flowers, a drop by to say hi, or inviting her to brunch or dinner. They may not be getting woken up at 5 a.m. by little people anymore, but they did once, going through the same grueling routine to raise us that we’re going through now. And the truly wonderful ones are still there with us by babysitting, changing diapers, or just showing love.

I don’t want to make my husband feel like he has to choose between me and his mom on Mother’s Day. A little selfishly, I want my son to grow up seeing that his dad still gives his mom something on Mother’s Day and makes time for her. And for me, I want to acknowledge both women in my life who have done so much to help me through this journey of motherhood.

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