Yesterday I spent a good chunk of time weeding a bed in front of our house and placing bricks around the edge. Then we had a giant thunderstorm and it flooded. After the skies cleared, Atticus in all his wisdom decided to move all my carefully placed bricks into the mud and throw some of his toys in there, too. When I tried to put the bricks back, I had a “helper” who wasn’t too jazzed about the idea (“no, I want the bricks in the mud!”) and then decided he should be the one to use the hammer (which I find fairly terrifying, especially when the target is near my toes). Plus, I dug through dirty buggy wormy mud and didn’t manage to find all the toys. Whatever Atticus got me for Mother’s Day, I earned it. Four words: mud in my underwear.
As I was looking for that one final toy, I knew that I could tell the story in a way that could be played for laughs or that would paint me as a harried mom. But the truth is that, yeah, it was kind of irritating to see him destroy all my hard work, but he didn’t do it out of malice. He saw me digging in the dirt and playing with bricks earlier, and he wanted to try it, too. Toys are fun, mud is fun, why wouldn’t toys in the mud be ultra fun?! It doesn’t help any of us if I yell at him for not seeing the world the same way that I do. I get to learn how to communicate a little more clearly and he hopefully learns some things about other points of view (and maybe that mama makes a mean mud pie).
I am telling this story because I want to stand up for motherhood a little bit. I read one too many articles this week on how hard and difficult and draining it is and I mean, of course it is. Of course I don’t enjoy every minute. But everything I do these days seems kind of hard so I am not sure why this is the thing that should be different . . . except for the fact that our society likes for motherhood, especially Mother’s Day, to be all rosy cheeks and smiling perfection. That or the frazzled mom with Cheerios stuck to her shirt, that’s all we get.
Shockingly, real life is a little more nuanced. I have a three-year-old who is beyond stubborn but yesterday he also watched a thunderstorm with me on the couch and we made snowman pancakes and mostly things are pretty good. These are the things I remember about being a child: my dad holding me during thunderstorms, my mom’s pancakes. I hope it’s what Atticus remembers, too. It might not look like much, but it adds up to the beautiful muddy frustrating exhilarating life we share together, one that brings us joy. I want to bear witness to those small stories because they are where we live and what I find life-giving right now.
I might be here to stand up for motherhood but my general ambivalence about Mother’s Day continues. Mother’s Day is a painful day for far too many of my friends for me to feel comfortable making a big deal about it. Here are three links that have helped me rethink Mother’s Day:
Nine Ways to Have an Empowered Mother’s Day by Megan @ SortaCrunchy (Wouldn’t it be nice if Mother’s Day was more like Wonder Woman Day where we did things to empower each other?)
Why I Hate Mother’s Day by Anne Lamott (Hate is kind of a strong word but I completely agree with her points.)
An Open Letter to Pastors (a non-mom speaks about Mother’s Day) by Amy Young (Thankfully my church doesn’t do the Hallmark holidays but it’s a good reminder of the various situations the people around you might be experiencing.)
Happy Mother’s Day to my own mother and my wonderful aunts and grandma. And happy Mother’s Day to all the mothering hearts out there. We see what you do and we appreciate you.