Mother’s Day Hangover: Let Go of the Guilt From Expectations Unfulfilled

Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the Mamas out there. I don’t know about you all but I feel a little rough this morning. There are so many hopes and expectations that go with Mother’s Day. And expectations left unfulfilled leave me feeling emotionally hungover. Don’t get me wrong, I had a wonderful Mother’s Day by all accounts. Pedicures with my Mom & my almost 3 year old daughter (her first! She loved getting her “piggies” painted purple), a fabulous dinner at my parents’ house, flowers & chocolates & hand-embellished cards. But the baby cried a lot, as he has been doing for the last week or so. No naps were had. And this Mama was up until 1am doing all the things Mamas have to do after the kids go to bed, though my Game of Thrones addiction is partially to blame for that.

I guess I hoped to be able to take a day “off” but there are no days off from motherhood. The babies need you and don’t care that someone declared this your day 100 years ago. A day off just means the night is full of all the chores you didn’t do during the day. Because we still need clean clothes the day after Mother’s Day, and clean dishes, and not to puncture the soft arch of our foot with a legoman’s sword.

The bigger, more dangerous expectations left unfulfilled are those about the quality of my own mothering. I should have taken the time to journal and reflect yesterday on the immense joys of motherhood. I should have helped my daughter create cards for her Grandmothers, whose motherhood blueprints create the foundation I am building upon. I should have gotten an Instagram-worthy shot of me and my children together with a rustic-but-chic background and all of us smiling and looking at the camera. I should have written each of my children a love note on why they make me so happy to be a mother. I’m should-ing all over myself here.

The truth is though, I didn’t have time to reflect on motherhood yesterday because the baby was fussing and my daughter wanted to play “wif” me. The cards fell by the wayside because her art consists mostly of marker scribbles and watercolor dots, so video texts & big hugs had to substitute. The photo I did get was of a baby happily gnawing on a rib bone, blissfully preoccupied so Mama could have a hot meal.

As for the love notes to my kids, I went back to my grueling, high-stress job after my daughter was born, grinding my nose so she would have a secure financial future. But I saw so little of her, missed her terribly, and she needed her Mama. A year later, I walked away from that painful but highly lucrative position to stay at home with her. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made, and I don’t fault anyone who comes out on the other side of it. For me, I had to release the 15 years of schooling and striving that had created my career. But she and I were wildly unhappy, so I had to evolve my thinking, drop my ego, thank my drive and hard work for granting me the choice to stay home, and change. And if that decision ever stops working for us, I will evolve again, no matter how hard it is. Because my life is my love note to my children and I write it every day.

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  1. You are a great writer! I can particularly relate to the part about things you should have done or could have done. I was having similar thoughts today. Why do we do that to ourselves?:)

    1. I know. It’s crazy. It’s like now that I’m staying home with them there’s even more pressure to make everything a Pinterest board since I have so much “time”.

  2. Your words repeat the unspoken thoughts of countless moms. Motherhood isn’t easy. If you think it is you are not doing it right or you are not a mother.
    Keep blogging – you give a voice to so many moms that think they are the only ones that are not good enough. If they love, they are good enough.

  3. Looking back I miss my babies, looking forward I love my adult kids! It takes courage to make the choices you have. You will make wonderful memories, and work twice as hard as a stay at home mom, with very little regret. Pause as you are now, with this wonderful blog to reflect on this short, hectic, frustrating,comically fulfilling wild ride of motherhood. It only gets better!

  4. I didn’t now the full story of your friend Lauren. Such a terrible loss, but told so beautifully. She would be happy to know you are happy.

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