I’ve been a mother for thirteen Mother’s Days, and most of them have been crappy. Ed seemed to either be working or out of town for about five years in a row. The books he got me were never what I would have picked for myself. And the children acted like, well, children. I’d invariably go to bed on Mother’s Day feeling more frustrated and unappreciated than I did on any other day of the year. I dreamed of being one of those women who send their husbands and kids off to church and lie in bed all day reading or watching movies on Mother’s Day, or else one of the women whose families shower them with jewelry and dresses and breakfast in bed and perfect desserts.

In my house, neither one of those is going to happen. Not anytime soon, at least. I have five little kids, and a husband who, once again, had to work this year on Mother’s Day.

But this year was going to be different; I was determined to have a good Mother’s Day, no matter what.

I love cinnamon rolls, but the only way I was going to have anything other than Kashi cereal for breakfast was if I made it myself. So when Maren came into my room at 6:12, I gave her a snuggle, got her a drink and set out the cinnamon rolls to rise. Then I got back in bed and dozed while she made me cards.

But I didn’t stay in bed too late, because that would have forced us into a “rush around to get ready for church” situation, and those stress me out. I hopped in the shower, stripped the bed, and everyone was done with their cinnamon rolls and in the pew at church five minutes before church started.

I watched my oldest son pass the sacrament for the first time and tried my best to ignore when he picked a wedgie in front of the whole congregation. I watched my other boy sing to me with the Primary and didn’t let myself get hung up on the fact that my two girls were still in the bathroom when the kids started singing.

I giggled over the kids’ sweet cards, and told Isaac I’d be eating the M&Ms he gave me myself, thankyouverymuch (even though he offered to take them off my hands). I appreciated that my husband recognized that I like to bake and I’m a fan of Anna Quindlen, and overlooked the fact that her new memoir is actually about growing older and not about eating cake.

When I drove down to take the kids to celebrate the day with my mother-in-law, I reminded myself that I’d be getting a delicious meal that I didn’t have to make instead of lamenting that there’d be no nap and no chance to read the afternoon away.

As I made dinner, put the sheets back on our bed (I do love clean sheets), bathed the little girls, did the dishes, and rolled the garbage cans down to the curb, I reminded myself how lucky I am to have these little people to feed and clean up after.

And when my oldest daughter kept talking to me while we watched tv together and I tried to write this post, I forced myself to think about how glad I was that she still wanted to talk my ear off.

I wasn’t a saint today– there was that time in the car when the baby was crying, the kids were watching Megamind at full volume, someone in the back was whining for a drink, and my front-seat passenger was blasting music from my iPod when I threatened to turn the car around if they didn’t all shut their dang mouths, but for the first time in more than a decade of Mother’s Days, I was happy.

May 15, 2012


  1. jen

    May 14, 2012

    Amen. Mother’s Day in my house is like every other day. This year I decided not to mind… so I went online and bought myself a fabulous day at a spa, thanked my husband and kids for it, and went on with my life.

    I know they appreciate me. I know they love me. I don’t need a “day” to try to make them into something they’re not.


  2. Michelle L.

    May 14, 2012

    how do I love you, Shelah. Let me count the ways…

  3. bonnieblythe

    May 14, 2012

    That was just fun. Amen to you and to Jen and Michelle. It’s a relief when we finally let go of the things that make us miserable, things that live only in our minds. I made dinner last night and was glad to do it. I looked through picture albums at younger years and was glad life has gotten easier, but also glad I was happy then. Memories are composed of how we felt, not how perfect our life was. I’m glad I felt happy.

    My best friend asked me if I missed having the company of a spouse and I told her emphatically, NEVER. (Mine’s a unique situation – I’m glad many of you have spouses and they’re wonderful things, etc etc). I’m just thrilled to be alive, thrilled to be a mom, thrilled to have a mom, thrilled to know good moms with goofy little children who sometimes make them nuts. Still happy.

  4. annegb

    May 14, 2012

    I think a really good way to celebrate Mother’s Day would be to send your family away Friday night. And buy your favorite foods for Saturday, take bubble baths, do your nails, read a book, DO NOT CLEAN! Then you can cook YOUR favorite breakfast Sunday morning! Or, buy some croissants and good cheese and fruit. They can come home Sunday afternoon, with some KFC.

  5. Becky

    May 14, 2012

    Mother’s Day’s have always been bittersweet for me. There were a lot of years of longing for motherhood. I have a beautiful special needs girl who is adopted. Now my mother’s days are filled with the joy that I am a mother but they are also filled with a little sorrow. I know her birthmom is hurting a little on this day.

    I don’t try to make mother’s day a day of romanticized no work thing. I try to hold my girl a little more. I try to be aware of the ladies that I know who are longing because I so wanted someone to be aware of me. I just try to remember that the chaos and tumult of family life is what I longed for.

    One of the best mother’s days I have had was one of the worst. My daughter had a seizure in the morning. They are always hard and soul tiring because we are always reminded just how fragile her life is. She was sleeping off the seizure and the drugs to stop it when it was time for church. I wanted to go. I wanted to hear the talks. I wanted to hold my girl and I figured I could hold her and let her sleep through sacrament meeting (we lived right across the street from the ward building so it was an easy walk). During the actual Sacrament she woke a little and threw-up down the inside of my dress. It was so gross!!! We waited for the Sacrament to finish being passed and we went home. We cleaned her up and I showered again. I held my girl and had one of the most sacred moments of my life. I was filled with love from Heavenly Father. I saw how blessed I was to be trusted with His most precious daughter. Every year I take a minute or more to remember those feelings and truths. I don’t have any expectations for that day except to hold my girl and to be thankful that I am a mother.

  6. Tay

    May 14, 2012

    I have found that I cannot expect anything from Mother’s Day that is glorious or particularly amazing. Last year I wanted the day ‘off’ and to do nothing with taking care of my boys (I hadn’t slept in over 8 months with #2 around – I was feeling desperate). The year before last we were driving home from WA and it was pretty lame for even a normal day. This year I was perfectly fine having a normal Sunday with added bonuses like extra chocolate and a cute handmade card from my 3YO. And it was perfect. especially because said 3YO believed me when I said that he had to give me a hug or kiss upon request without saying or implying ‘no.’ 🙂 May my birthday go just as smoothly in July.

  7. Jess

    May 14, 2012

    My favorite Mother’s Day was the one where the boys brought me breakfast in bed — bread (not toasted, because Ahmee doesn’t eat toast) and water (because Ahmee doesn’t drink juice). It’s usually just a low-key day in our house, although there is usually something for dessert, because I am home *all day* and can bake, and then the ususal things that need to be done around the house.

  8. Rosalyn

    May 14, 2012

    I loved this! I’m also prone to the martyr complex on occasion–I like the idea of consciously making a sacrifice of the martyr.

  9. Jendoop

    May 15, 2012

    This was a great idea, not setting the traps for your husband and children that bring about a bad Mother’s day. Our unspoken expectations do us in every time.

    This year I really wanted, and thought I would have, a good guilt-free mothers day. And I did, but I was an emotional wreck because someone chose ‘Because I Have Been Given Much’ as the opening hymn. It brought up my feelings about my past foster children and I sobbed through it. That set the tone for the day, I cried intermittently for them, my heart was full of sadness for my former foster children and their families. Then I felt guilty for being sad, that I should focus more on my own kids who were sitting right next to me. But I couldn’t help but wonder when the courts will finally approve little Alan’s adoption, or where Gino is, or if Amy, Vanessa, Briana, and Ryan are growing up happy. (Thanks for the indulgence, I needed to “say” their names.)

    There was one point that I felt such a strong urge to say something it killed me to leave it unsaid. For anyone who thinks they are a bad mother- Do you leave your crying 3 year old alone in your apartment all night while you go party? Do you teach your boys to hate each other and encourage fights because it’s entertaining? Do you choose to continue living with your boyfriend who sexually abuses your children, when if you kicked him out the state would return your children? If you don’t do these things then you are not a bad mother. Stop using that label for insignificant things like being late to soccer practice and not making rolls from scratch. And even if you’ve done those types of things, don’t do them now and move forward. What you do today is what makes a good mother.

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