My children left for school today with reminders that Mother’s Day is coming up. This year will be my first Mother’s Day as a mother of three and as much as I look forward to Mother’s Day, I also don’t like celebrating it. Every year I ask my husband not to buy me anything because I want more from him than just a gift even if it is really nice and well thought out.
As Mother’s Day approaches, I go through a wide range of raw emotions. I feel blessed for the three little ones in my life and the God-given opportunity to be their mother. I feel a happiness in my heart that I simply cannot explain or contain as I look through baby photos (more so than usual) and marvel at how beautifully my children are growing. I feel gratitude for the person motherhood has allowed me to become. And then after I put my children to bed, I wonder if I really am the good mother that I think I am. I remember the one time I could have reacted differently to something my child did but had no control over. I feel guilt over not having persisted more when I knew in my heart Baby Vishnu was having seizures. I add to my guilt and remind myself that he could have died because of me. I tell myself perhaps my children deserve better and that perhaps everyone was right – I was too young to become a mother.
From time to time when I am overwhelmed with my role as a mother, I am consumed with this feeling of insecurity in that I feel like I’m not enough or that I’m not doing enough as a mother. Sometimes it stems from what was said to me, and other times this feeling arises simply from my own insecurities or possibly because of what isn’t being said to me. Through the conversations that I have had with many of you, I’ve learned that this feeling of inadequacy is quite common. Motherhood is exhausting and when we are exhausted we become emotional and vulnerable.
When we feel vulnerable we sometimes seek affirmation and recognition from our spouses, families, or even social media. We want to feel like what we do matters and that it makes a difference. A gift or flowers on Mother’s Day isn’t going to make me feel good (unless it is from the children of course). Truth be told, Mother’s Day is just like any other day in that I am exhausted and would much prefer help and appreciation over anything. What would make me happy is my husband offering to help with the chores, or the kids, so that I could catch a break or take a nap and offering to do these things throughout the year.
I said it before and I’ll say it again – Motherhood can at times feel like a lonely adventure, especially when your children are too little to have normal conversations with. It takes so much giving and self-sacrifice to make sure the needs of your little ones are well met and that they are well cared for. Some days I feel like I’ve got this whole motherhood thing under control and other days I feel exhausted, overwhelmed, incapable, and unappreciated. It is those days where I am exhausted beyond comprehension that resentment, always aimed at my husband, tends to rear its ugly head. I understand he works hard so I expect him to understand that I work equally hard or at least appreciate the clean home, healthy food, and happy children that I am giving him in return. I really believe there needs to be at least one person in your life giving you the praise you sometimes desperately need to hear to help you get through those extra difficult days.
When I became pregnant with Akshaya at 21 years of age, everyone claimed I was too young to raise a child regardless of what I felt. Initially my hope was to prove everyone wrong but years later I realized that it didn’t matter what other people thought as long as I was confident and content in the choices I made as a parent. Unfortunately the reality is that despite your best intentions, people (some of them being people you love dearly) will either subtly or very blatantly judge the choices you make as soon as you do anything differently than they would do.
My choices have always been met with criticism. I was told that I was selfish for wanting to pursue the remainder of my education while pregnant. My intention however, was to be a good role model to my daughter by showing her (eventually) that the pursuit of education and knowledge is worthwhile despite the difficulties one may encounter. When Akshaya was born prematurely, I was told it was due to stress from school, despite my waters spontaneously rupturing and my body not going into labour on its own. I was told I was unable to breastfeed because I didn’t try hard enough, because I didn’t drink enough water, and because I didn’t eat well enough during my pregnancy. The exhaustion from school coupled with stress from Akshaya being born during the beginning of exam week made me emotional and vulnerable to the point that I felt like I was already failing as a mother just days after becoming one. I could blame the fluctuating hormones but more than that it was because I was looking for approval from those around me.
Over the years I’ve matured enough to realize that I should appreciate myself rather than look for worth and affirmation from my husband and even parents. If you allow your worth to be measured in accordance to what others say and don’t say, you will be disappointed. Realistically I do all that I do because I love my children and my family – not at all because I want to be recognized or appreciated. The need to be appreciated comes from the exhaustion of overworking myself to meet everyone’s needs and demands but it is not necessary. Whether or not I am appreciated for what I do, I will continue to do it because that is what I agreed to when I decided to become a mother. My husband and many husbands don’t acknowledge the hard work that goes into raising children, cooking, or keeping the home tidy simply because that is what society expects of wives and mothers. We are conditioned to think that mothers should put our needs, our health, and our happiness last for the sake of our families and because that is what is expected of us we aren’t fully appreciated for all that we do.
If we expect to make a difference for future generations, we must start by teaching our children appreciation and gratitude. As mothers, we go up and beyond to make our children happy but by doing that we also create a sense of entitlement and we enable selfish, lazy, and ungrateful behaviour in our children. As children get older they will expect more and more and yet they will seem less and less happy, leaving you feeling overworked, underappreciated, and unhappy. To foster gratitude and the ability to appreciate others, we need to give children responsibilities (that are appropriate for their age), teach them to pick up after themselves, and ask for help when needed rather than do everything ourselves and resent the people whom we love the most. By consistently involving our children in household chores, they will inevitably learn the value of working together as a family unit and hopefully carry that with them when they leave to have families of their own.
This Mother’s Day and every day, whether you feel appreciated or not and whether all that you do is recognized or not, know that you are enough! Despite your age, your marital status, the number of children you chose to have, and whether you are a stay-at-home-mom, or a working mom, know that you are doing the best for your family. Despite what your husband, parents, in-laws, relative, neighbour, stranger, say or don’t say, know that your children are thriving because of your love and care. Keep loving, caring, giving, and doing all that you do and appreciate yourself for it because what you do matters!
– Modern Day Brown Mom