11 May 2015

Great Expectations (a Motherhood post)

Pretty Mothers Day Lunch

I almost titled this post, "Why I hate Mothers Day" but decided that might be a bit harsh.
I don't REALLY hate Mother's Day, but sometimes it can be a bit... disappointing.
See, it's all about expectations.

If yesterday had been just a normal day, it would have been better than average. But when you know every person you meet is going to ask, "Did you get spoilt? Did you get breakfast in bed?" (and you got a call from the kitchen: "Your cup of tea is on the bench!") you kind of want to huddle in your bed and not face anyone.

It's not that your family didn't try, either. Like I said, if this was just an ordinary day, it would be better than average.
Not often your daughter makes your bed for you and announces, "There's a surprise in your room, mum!"
Not often your son does the dishes without being asked.
A card, some gifts.
These are lovely things.

So why did I find myself sitting in my bed with tears running down my face? Am I a sook? Am I a spoilt baby? Did I expect violins and breakfast on a tray with a rose in a vase? The gifts to be wrapped instead of still in the store-bags?
Or was it that I was hoping that my kids would take me seriously when I said, "All I want on Mother's Day is for you kids to be nice to each other. No fighting. No talking back. Be helpful. Listen to what daddy and me ask you. That's all..."?

Did I hope that each and every one of them would strive to give me a day without conflict, without growling. A day of Peace and Serenity? (Which, let's be honest, is every Mother's dream).

Yeah, that's it. All of the above, probably.
Which is why as I sat on my bed trying on my new slippers (oops too small) and heard the shouting and whingeing echoing through the hallway, the hissed command of "Shush! Stop being selfish - it's Mother's Day!" didn't really help.

My kids are pretty crazy

I was seriously bummed. And I wanted to stay in bed, hide from the world. Let them go to church without me and leave me to sip my tea in peace...

But no. Hubby wasn't having a bar of that.
"Come on, get up out of that pit," he ordered, ripping back the covers and snapping me out of my funk. "You want to send your kids to church without you on Mothers day, when everyone else is has their Mother there and it's all for Mothers? Stop sulking and get dressed, we'll start over fresh."

So that's what we did.
I got out of my pit, got dressed and as I did I thought about Expectations. And the fact that it was those sneaky hopes of soft-focused peace-filled perfection that were really setting me up for a fall.

Because the reality is that a day without conflict or whingeing of any kind round these parts is a mighty big ask. In fact, it's nigh on impossible.

But if I went into Mother's Day with NO EXPECTATIONS I would actually have a day that was better than most.
The second half of the day, sans-sulking and self-pity, was a vast improvement.

I faced reality head-on and abandoned all expectations. (Those sneaky voices that creep up and tap me on the shoulder and say, "You deserve better. look what you do for THEM. Look how much effort you go to for THEM. You should be treated as a veritable QUEEN today!" I ignore those buggers, they cause nothing but trouble).

DIY Mothers Day lunch

Yes I may have loved to go out to a nice restaurant and survey my offspring gathered about me like trophies, as we dined joyfully on a meal I had no hand in preparing. But let's be honest.
I have two - probably three - kids with ADHD. They don't like to sit still for long. I'm better off at home.

When hubby asked what I wanted to do for lunch, I took reality by the teets and replied, "I'd love you to get some treats from the French deli; we can eat outside and I'll set it up pretty."

I cut some roses from the vine and hung bunting, spread my favourite cloth and put out the nice bowls, while hubby went and got salami, brie, chicken and crusty loaves.
Then me and my hubby chilled together under the dying grapevine while the kids came, ate then went, leaving us in peace. I didn't care if they were on the computer/Wii/PS3 - I had peace and prettiness even if it was a DIY job. It was a good choice, better than a flash restaurant. More doable for us, and probably far more enjoyable.
SCORE: Mother's Day Serenity: 1, Unrealistic expectations: zip.

Raspberry chocolate Torte gluten free dairy free sugar free

Later I baked my mum a cake. It's her Mother's Day too after all. It's not just about me,
"I'd like us ALL to go over to Nan and Grandad's with the cake," I told my tribe.
It would likely have been easier to just go myself, but I wanted my family to come so I played the Mothers Day card like the ace I'd kept up my sleeve.
We took the Nespresso machine and hubby made us all coffees, while we ate cake and played that hand-slapping game (my mum was the champion). Later SHE posted on Facebook that she'd had the BEST Mother's Day ever - which is awesome.

I had avoided social media for most of the day, not wanting to see all the golden glowing photos of rose tinted mothers day greetings in case I was tempted to compare my day with other more glamorous Mother's Days - but it seemed that I was not the only one whose expectations had to be reigned in.
Mother's Day seems to have served up mixed results.

However, over all, I felt like my Mother's Day was a WIN.
It might not have begun as the hoped-for day of glory, peace and honour which I felt I deserved, but that's only when I compare my day to idealised soft-focused TV commercials.

Most of us don't have paid actors reading from a script, playing a part in our Mother's Day scenario - we have real live kids.

Kids who want to do the right thing but who are still, essentially selfish. Kids who while well-intentioned, would still rather go on Movie Star Planet than vacuum the house. Kids who are kind enough to bring in the cup of tea going cold on the bench (when they realise you're upset because your Mother's Day is not like the commercial), who make your bed when you're not looking - but who get distracted after that watching Adventure Time and forget to strew roses in your path as you walk.

My three kids

Kids who may give you the best hugs and kisses EVERY DAY and who tell you CONSTANTLY that they love you and you're the best mum ever, but who On The Day complain about having to get dressed up half decent and whinge about having to help "just because it's mother's day".

My kids are a mixed bag, a work in progress. It will probably take until they have kids of their own until they fully appreciate all that I've done for them. I know that's how it happened for me - I didn't "get it" until I became a mother myself. I didn't appreciate my mum properly until I was one myself.

In the meantime, until they grow up and realise my true awesomeness, I'll take my mixed bag, sort out the lovely moments from the less-than-ideal and throw away disappointment with my expectations.

Then and only then will I be able to enjoy Mother's Day, as simply a better-than-average day.
And if I'm smart I just might remember that the best thing about it is that I GET TO BE A MUM to these crazy-but-wonderful humans. Which is worth celebrating, even if I have to do the decorating myself.



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Cat said...

What a beautifully well written honest post Simone. Isn't comparison the thief of all joys ... I loved my Mothers Day more so coz I got to run away with my Mummy friends and we got to hang out together all of us away from our whinging whining fighting kids ... Miss 6 refused to have a photo with her brother in it, the cafe lost our order so 2 kids were left waiting 90 minutes for their lunch ... But we had a great day !!! Anyday spent with my miracles is a great day !!! Wish I could've spent the day with my Mum tho :( ...
I love this post

Amy Seven-Stitches said...

Fantastic post! no whinging would be wonderful, but that didn't happen in our house either.

jacksta said...

Always appreciate your honesty.
My expectations were pretty low this year... Some home made cards were about it... And that's enough for me. You're right... None of us truly appreciate our parents until we become one ourselves.

Leonie said...

No expectations is the way to roll - life goes on "Mother's Day" or not! I'm glad your day was good in the end - you still got all your babies and you still got to be a Mum. The best xx

Leanne M said...

Oh Simone, having no expectations is definitely the way to go and then everything good that does happen is a bonus. Mother's Day is a crock anyway. Ha!

Life Love and Hiccups said...

I love this post Simone. Every Mothers Day I ask for well behaved kids and every year they kinda sorta try lol. At least they try - we are halfway there xx

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