Tomorrow will be my first Mother’s Day from the mom end of the day. As a new mom I’m wondering what is Mother’s Day for exactly? I’m getting conflicted messages. Is it a day to spend cherishing some quality time with your kids? Or am I justified in kicking my family out of the house, taking a leisurely and uninterrupted shower (nearly unheard of these days!), getting myself a drink and putting my feet up with a good book? If I negotiate for some peaceful and quiet Me time, will I feel guilty?
At times I find myself feeling guilty, sometimes for mediocrity when I know Sam deserves the best, sometimes for bigger failures like yelling in frustration during one especially sleep-deprived night. I’m aware of the myth of the “perfect mother” and the guilt that can result from never measuring up to the mythic ideal. Nevertheless, there can be so many small instances that trigger pings of guilt. But I try to banish mother’s guilt whenever I feel it creeping alongside me. And I try to remember not to sacrifice so much that I’m no longer allowing myself to have a life outside of being Sam’s mother or taking care of myself. The myth of the perfect mother reminds me of the Angel in the House. Virginia Woolf wrote about killing the Angel in the House in order to make room for personal growth in creativity and writing. The Angel in the House refers to the perfect family woman who is endlessly selfless and sacrificing herself. “She sacrificed herself daily. If there was chicken, she took the leg; if there was a draught she sat in it—in short she was so constituted that she never had a mind or a wish of her own, but preferred to sympathize always with the minds and wishes of others.” (from Professions for Women, 1931). Trying to live up to the ideal of the Angel in the House can be not only guilt-inducing, but stifling in terms of personal growth and leading a full satisfying life.
So what about my Mother’s Day wishes? Shall I be vocal and forthright about my desires for the day? Why, yes, I think I will. Sam is eleven months old. He’s mastered the art of throwing blocks. Playing peekaboo is his specialty. Peeing on me during diaper changes? Yeah, he’s got that down, too. (Just check out the photo and try to imagine that I was once voted best dressed in my college dorm). But, I’m betting that he can’t whip up a special yummy Mother’s Day breakfast. Does that mean that my husband is obligated to cook my blueberry pancakes and bacon? What do you think?
I’ve also asked for some improvements to the back patio. I figured that I was more likely to see results if I made it a Mother’s Day gift wish. I’m not sure that Sam will be able to handle planting the hydrangea and irises I chose, although he is getting quite adept at sneakily moving several feet from where I placed him when my eyes are averted. He can’t crawl yet so I don’t know how he manages this maneuver. Come to think of it though, playing in dirt might be right up his alley. Still, landscaping may be beyond his toddler capabilities just now. What do you think? Should Jack get roped into this Mother’s Day wish as well?
I’m curious about how other mothers are spending their special day. For me, I think I’ll attempt the perfect day for a not-so-perfect mom. Me time + some playing with Sam + Jack smoothing the way = Every day should be so perfect.