Mother’s Day is almost here, and for the most part, any related cards, presents and celebrations tend to be aimed at kids and young adults. And this makes sense on many levels — mothers of small children have the world on their shoulders and deserve a lot of thanks. But in reality, as kids, we often take our mothers for granted.
It’s not until adulthood when we’re faced with difficulties similar to the ones our mothers faced, with and without children, that the full extent of a mother’s sacrifice, strength, resilience and hard work takes its full form.
When I was a kid, Mother’s Day was, unfortunately, not as important to me. Sure, it was a day to celebrate mom, but did my brother and I really stop to think about all the things our mother had done for us that year? Probably not. Now as an adult, Mother’s Day has so much more meaning for a couple of reasons.
Being an adult is hard.
As a child, we assume that adults have an easy life. They don’t have to go to school or do homework, and they don’t have to learn long division or try to survive gym class. That’s because they already did that. When we get to our teen years, all we want to do is become an adult and be able to drive and live on our own and make our own decisions. In what can be seen as one of life’s cruelest jokes, it’s often not until adulthood that we realize how much more fun it is to be a kid. (Making your own decisions is highly overrated.) Throw in taking care of children and adulting can feel like al-don’t-ing. Benjamin Button was definitely on to something.
Everyone is exhausted.
Kids have a surprising amount of energy, which means they’ll want to be active and play with parents at the end of a long day. As adults, we now understand why our moms weren’t always up for a game of tag in the backyard. They were exhausted. Are there any adults that aren’t always exhausted? Maybe, but they’re likely not mothers. Worrying about and taking care of a kid is a full-time job, and it never ends, no matter where they go. Add that together and you get someone who deserves a lot more than one day off every year. Even on Mother’s Day, my mom was still working, hovering in the corner to make sure the inedible pancakes I was making her didn’t also result in a kitchen fire. There’s no rest for the weary, and all mothers are weary at some point.
It’s a thankless job.
As kids, most people assume that moms like being moms. There are many aspects of motherhood that are great. But every time my partner texts me to ask what we’re having for dinner that night, I make a mental note to call my mother and thank her for the thousands of breakfasts, lunches and dinners she prepared with no thanks from me. Did I thank my mom for using her vacation time to stay home with me on PD days, or clean up after me when I was sick? I’d like to think so, but I’m pretty sure I only said one thank you for every hundred times she deserved one. Now, when I’m lucky enough to have my mom around and experience the pure joy of having someone make my meal or fold my laundry or hug me when I’m stressed, the thank yous can’t come fast enough. Sure, being a mom may eventually be met with praise from kids, but usually, it takes a few decades.
Being a grown up doesn’t mean you have the answers.
It’s normal for children to think that moms have all the answers, and it’s not until adulthood that we realize they were figuring out their new identity as a parent the whole time. First, there were the questions they asked themselves. What kind of mom did they want to be? What kind of partner? What did they want in their career? In their life? Not only are moms constantly forced to make sense of what’s going on in their lives in order to answer these questions, but they’re also dealing with difficult queries from kids, ranging from ‘where do babies come from’ to ‘what happened to our dog?’ Most adults have trouble talking about life and death, so how are mom’s supposed to explain it to kids? There’s probably a book on this, but what moms have time to read?
It can be difficult to appreciate things until they’re gone.
Whether your mother has passed, lives far away, is sick or you’ve lost contact, there’s a good chance that Mother’s Day as an adult will be met with some sadness. We either long to have our mothers with us, or miss the parent we remember them as. The feeling of invincibility that we all seem to be born with usually fades as we grow older, and that means we’re either faced with the reality of our mothers now being gone or knowing they won’t always be around.
No one is perfect.
As an adult, I lose my glasses about three times a day and routinely search for my cell phone while holding it in my hand. Yet as a child, I expected my mother to know where every article of my clothing was at all times, keep the kitchen fully stocked with my favourite snacks (and know what these snacks were when I changed my tastes every week) and never miss a single sports practice/theatre performance/spelling bee/jump in the pool. I was outraged when my mom would make me wait in line at the grocery store while she would run back to grab something she missed. Why was she so forgetful? Didn’t she know how embarrassed I would be in front of all these other mothers (who had likely also forgotten things) if our turn in line came and I arrived at the check out with no money? Why couldn’t my mother remember things after working full time at an office and then rushing home to make dinner before driving in three different directions to take my brother and me to our extra curricular activities? Why wasn’t my mother perfect? It turns out, she was and is. She’s the human version of the word.