Mother’s Day – one of the annual events where we hope to get a lie in, breakfast in bed or maybe lunch out and for someone to tell us how bloody marvellous we are, reassuring us that our efforts are appreciated.
I can remember making my mum breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day when I was young. It wasn’t decadent – it was a bowl of cereal, served on a tray, in bed. Some years I pushed the boat out and added a slice of toast. I’ve been thinking about this ‘treat’ as an adult and fellow mum. The sentiment was right, but I imagine after reassuring her that she could have a lie in, I dawdled downstairs, took 20 minutes titting about getting all the bits together (probably shouting up the stairs ‘Mu-um, where’s the tray/spoon/bowl?’) before presenting her with a bowl of All-Bran. I remember that it was always All-Bran. I probably stood back smugly, awaiting ‘Mmm’ noises and heaps of praise, and then left her to take the tray down and clear up the hurricane of devastation I’d left in the kitchen.
Now I don’t mean to sound ungrateful – if my kids bring me breakfast in bed, I will coo and smile at their eager little faces. But there are two words that keep coming up in feedback from blog posts so far, and grand (or not so grand) gestures a couple of days of the year aren’t going to resolve these. The first is Relentless. Much of the week is spent at pace – there is always something to do, something to clean, somewhere to get to, a nap or meal to be on time for, a behaviour to tackle, a list of stuff to buy – and if you think you’re making progress with all that, someone gets ill and cocks it all up again.
When I’ve turned to my older and wiser friends for comfort that this will ease up, some look a little glassy-eyed and say ‘sure’ and move the conversation on. Some take a breath and explain that it changes and, whilst it’s not as hard as the beginning months – when we have no idea what we’re doing and on no sleep – each ‘phase’ adds a new challenge. So basically, relentless is here to stay. Which brings me to the second ‘R’ word…Resentful.
I’m not going to dwell on resentment too much. Except to say I think it’s often the reason behind most rows between partners with young kids and it goes something like this:
‘Since having kids my body is ravaged, my career is on hold, my role is harder than yours, the responsibility is on me, my life has changed more than yours and I’m exhausted. I know you’re tired too and it’s not a competition. But if it were I’d win because I am more tired than you’.
No one wins these rows. They too are relentless. There is nothing helpful or constructive about feeling this way, but it’s still a very real emotion.
So I’m wondering, do we need to take matters in to our own hands? When we’re steaming about doing everything but feeling resentful, no one is enjoying themselves or ‘winning’.
Could we have a Mother’s Day Resolution – like New Year but rather than giving up stuff we enjoy and trying to improve ourselves, we make a commitment to take time for ourselves? Not wait for someone to spoil us on our birthday, or bring us a bowl of All-Bran in bed once a year (I really am sorry Mum), but do something for ourselves that brings us the calm and space that we miss, and do it as a regular practice because we deserve it, and it will bring more harmony to the house? I know plenty of blokes that want their partners to take this time out as they recognise that it is beneficial for everyone, but maybe it is often us that put up the barriers to actually doing it?
My mum told me that on a Monday night when we were young she played Badminton with some friends (it was the 80s – it was either going to be badminton or aerobics), and they’d have a gin in the bar after. I think some weeks they bypassed the shuttlecocks and just hit the gin. The fact she still remembers what night of the week it was 30 years on indicates this night to herself must’ve been sacred. When Buster was a few months old, I had an hour gym session booked once a week. I always left the house flustered, would suggest perhaps I shouldn’t go, anxious he’d need me and balking at my post-baby lycra-clad body. I always returned feeling calmer and happier and was nicer to my husband for at least that evening. I’d have cranked up some motivational Beyonce, maybe chatted to some randoms in the changing rooms and had space to think. One hour. The benefit to the whole household of that hour to myself was priceless at a tricky time that felt anything but calm.
A friend and I were talking about this and a few days later she sent me this picture – she’d stopped at a café after doing the shopping and taken 20 minutes to herself to read a magazine and have a hot drink and described it as bliss.
So it’s not that we need a spa weekend or a raucous night out with the girls. I mean, we might like those things, but not on a weekly basis. I’m not suggesting men don’t also need time out either. Generally though, I think they’re better at taking it. They skip out the door a lot easier, not fretting about what those of us left behind will eat and whether the pyjamas are laid out. They seem to have more ‘occasions’ that apparently warrant time out – stag dos, a can’t-miss match, a trip to the tip. They even manage to make a solo event out of a visit to the loo, something many mums can only dream of. (If you haven’t seen it, please watch ‘This is 40’. It’s very funny and almost uncomfortable viewing because it’s so accurate).
If we’re waiting for someone else to step in and make it easy for us, we could be in for a long wait. So this Mother’s Day, I will enjoy whatever my lovely little family do, and I will hope my husband has remembered a card from the kids; FYI chaps, we LOVE a card. Stick a few heartfelt words in it and for some women, the gratitude may even reach Domestic Chores levels. And then I will ensure that I keep my Mother’s Day Resolution and take some time to myself each week to just ‘be’, which will make me nicer and less resentful. Everyone wins.
Is this something you do already, or is this something you feel you should do more of? As always, I would love any comments or thoughts
We’ve been nominated for Closer Magazine’s Mum Blogger of the Year award – if you like what you’ve read you can vote for us (v easily and quickly – here by clicking on Sisterhood and all that. Thanks!
Picture: All-Bran www.food.ninemsn.com.au