Mother’s Day – Expectation vs. Reality
I love holidays. Any holiday, really. An excuse to theme my kids’ outfits, to bake treats, go to parades, listen to special music, learn about important historical people and events? An excuse for a big meal with family, to partake in sweet traditions, and appreciate the people closest to us? Yes, please!
Except not all holidays end up looking like the pictures we’ve painted right in our very own minds. Actually, most of them end up looking a whole lot different than the image we’ve created.
Especially Mother’s Day.
Mother’s Day is the queen of the type of holiday that makes us crazy, because we’ve created an image of the perfect holiday, and somehow convinced ourselves that that image is real in everyone else’s homes. When in reality, there’s zero chance it will actually turn out like the image we’re seeing in our minds (and a nearly 100% chance it also does not look like that in everyone else’s homes either.)
Mother’s Day (in our heads) looks like sleeping in, waking up late and stretching out our arms luxuriously after a full night’s sleep. It looks like sweet and happy children opening our bedroom door, running with widespread arms ready for snuggles and smiles. It looks like our spouse trailing behind while holding a tray of hot coffee, a bud vase holding exactly one perfect flower, and cards handmade by our dear little kids. And donuts. It looks like going to church with well-behaved children who do not loudly whisper, “I’m bored!!” during the prayers, who do not crawl underneath the pews to chase after dropped crayons, who do not ask for “more snack” after communion. It looks like going out to brunch with our beautiful family, to a restaurant with actual plates instead of trays, actual silverware rather than plastic sporks, and actual glasses instead of Styrofoam cups. It looks like manicures with a friend or (glory be!) by yourself. It looks like a hot bath with a cup of tea and a good book, and no fingers wiggling under or pounding on the bathroom door.
Or maybe the expectations of Mother’s Day are about your grandkids or your grandmother. On more than one of my kids’ visits to grandma, who expected her grandkids to love her sweetly, then spend the day telling stories and playing together… only to have the children act up more than they have all week. Or have a diaper blowout and ruin the darling outfit she gave them. Or spend the visit in a timeout because their attitude was abysmal. On Mother’s Day, maybe the visit grandma expects with the grandkids just doesn’t play out, which brings a sad tone to a day that’s supposed to be light and fun.
Expectations trip us up at times, don’t they?
Mother’s Day (in real life) looks like pretty much any other day of the year. Because when you’re a mom, real life marches on through each and every holiday and occasion. It looks like waking up at the same crack of dawn o’clock as usual. It looks like stepping on Legos in the still-not-picked-up-playroom. It looks like crumbs from last night’s dinner (lunch? Breakfast?) still under the kitchen table. It looks like grown-up sons and daughters who forget to call on Mother’s Day. It looks like a disagreement with our own moms. It looks like accepting whatever the day throws at us because we still live in real life.
We don’t live in the unable-to-be-met-expectations we’ve built up around one day.
On Mother’s Day and beyond, we have the chance to embrace the actual people we’ve been given in our very real and wonderful lives. To cherish our family and circumstances as the gifts that they are. To release ourselves from the pressure cooker of perfection, and instead chase that which will last eternally.
God gives us opportunities to bless, and to be refined. So next time you’re tempted to give into disappointment or to be disheartened because your life doesn’t align with the picture in your head, lean into His heart instead. And in doing so, become more like Him.
Let’s praise God, from whom all blessings flow – even the sticky, fingerprinted, early-rising, crumb-covered, diaper-blowout, forgot-to-call, perfectly imperfect ones. May you have a happy Mother’s Day, in all of its real-life glory!