Mother’s Day is a battlefield
Is there any holiday as emotionally loaded as Mother’s Day? Not just for stepmoms (I mean, yeah, definitely for stepmoms), but also regular moms, kids of regular moms, kids of shitty moms, women who wish they were moms, women who are relieved they’re not moms, spouses of moms, foster moms, adoptive moms, moms of fur babies, single dads, gay dads, grandparents raising their grandkids, parental type figures.
Basically every human everywhere who falls within the blast zone of this pressure-ridden, Hallmark-saturated, well-intentioned but ultimately disastrous holiday.
So yeah. Mother’s Day is rough.
And thinking back, has always been rough for me.
Growing up, Mother’s Day fell within a day or two of both my sister’s birthday and my brother’s birthday. I felt left out. What kid wants everyone else getting presents and parties except them??
My first official Mother’s Day as a bio mom, my daughter’s dad proposed to me. But by the next Mother’s Day, he’d moved out. He called from his new place (the one he was sharing with the girl he still insisted he hadn’t left me for) to wish me a happy Mother’s Day. “Thanks for being such an amazing mom to BD,” said his voicemail.
In my single mom years, I celebrated Mother’s Day by ditching my kiddo with my dad and taking my mom out to brunch and art gallery tours for the day.
And this year for Mother’s Day, I’m spending the day helping my BD get her new apartment fixed up and organized. We might watch a movie later; one-on-one time comes rarer these days now that there’s jobs and apartments and a live-in BF in the picture.
Nothing about this day is glamorous, as much as the greeting card companies and Lifetime channel creators and guilt-trippy commercial messaging would like me to believe otherwise.
Let’s not forget that Mother’s Day is a completely made-up holiday, invented by a woman who was so appalled at how commercialized her contribution became that she spent the latter part of her life trying to erase it from the calendar.
Flowers or presents or breakfast in bed or whatever on this one single day of the year really doesn’t (and could never, and shouldn’t attempt to) even out with the other 364 days that I’m momming and stepmomming it.
When Dan makes me a cup of coffee in the morning, that’s him appreciating me. When BD asks what advice I’d give her friend who’s struggling right now, that’s validation. And when my SD sketches a picture of my stuff—albeit without asking to borrow any of it first—that’s a compliment.
The little things matter. Accept them, treasure them, don’t skip over or discount them. The everyday gestures matter so much more than we give them credit for. And if you’re not getting credit in the everyday, then a construction paper card ain’t gonna make up the deficit.
The person who needs to celebrate this day the most is you. Celebrate yourself. Don’t wait around on your husband, your kids, your stepkids. You know your worth better than anyone around you.
So make Mother’s Day a day to remind yourself of your own awesomeness. Take yourself out to brunch. Indulge in a day of self-care. For one day, pack up any guilt or resentment or wishful thinking, and take a minute to really appreciate yourself for all you do. Because you do a lot.
Happy Mother’s Day to you, stepmoms. Lord knows you deserve it.