When Mother's Day is good enough.

Posted by Gay McKinley on May 04, 2016 . 0 Comments

There’s nothing like focussing on the subject of ‘mother’ to also put the spotlight on insecurities, doubts, fears, responsibility, guilt, shame, and a sense of ‘not good enough’.

How many times does a mother ask herself, “Was it something I did (or didn’t) …?”, “If only I had …”; “Am I doing it right?”; “Am I a good enough mother?” and the list goes on.

Mother’s Day is fast approaching.  The DAY when mothers are celebrated, fêted, spoiled, acknowledged, pampered, dined, wined, breakfasted, hugged, loved, given gifts and generally told they are not just good enough; they are ‘the best’.

That’s how it is, isn’t it?

For many mothers that is the reality, and that is wonderful.  But for many mothers, the reality is quite the opposite.

I personally am not an advocate for any such ‘days’.  Why should we celebrate or acknowledge mothers on just one day?  Or fathers, or grandparents, or refugees, or peace, or AIDs, or breast cancer, or domestic violence.  All worthy causes that need attention 365 days a year.

But we do have this day, and for some mothers it merely highlights what isn’t good enough about being a mother.  How many mothers don’t hear from their children?  They might not have heard from them for months, but surely they will think to call on Mother’s Day?  How many don’t get presents when it seems all their friends do?  How many mothers have to organise their own Mother's Day – “what are we doing for Mother's Day, Mum?”

And if the day doesn’t go to plan, isn’t the ideal, doesn’t measure up to the fantasy, the criticism can go inward.  “Was it something I did (or didn’t) …?”; “If only I had …”; “He, she, they, must think I’m not worth acknowledging”; “Perhaps I’m not a good enough mother”.

Over the many years I have been a mother, I have had both experiences of Mother's Day – the best ever, the worst ever, and everything in between – and yet, I am the same mother. 

Whenever we look for approval outside ourselves we are doomed to failure.  We have no control over what other people think of us.  Even if they are our children.  In fact, what other people think of us is none of our business.  Including our children.

I have learned to not take that failure to call as a judgement about my quality as a mother.  It’s merely a failure to call.  It might not be ideal, but it’s no longer loaded with all the garbage I used to put on it.  I used to be so good at loading meaning when there was none to be loaded, that if I received a present I could ask myself, “Is this only because he feels obligated?”  If I didn’t receive a present, “Doesn’t he think I’m a good mother?”  Cringe!!

So Happy Mother's Day to all those good enough mothers out there.  These days I take time on the day to reflect on my motherhood experience, and I focus on the good stuff.  I know I’m not perfect, but I know I’m a good enough mother.  Anything else that happens is a bonus!  That’s a good enough Mother’s Day.

I wonder if my sons will read this?  Stop it Gay!  Stop it!!

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