I was in the checkout line when the cashier noticed the carseat carrier in my cart. “Will this be your first Mother’s Day?”
I smiled proudly. Yes, yes it would be. With a 5 week old baby in tow, I was now in the club.
I had a new holiday. I hand’t even realized.
She congratulated me and told me her daughter-in-law was a first time mom as well. As she fell into a rhythm of scanning my groceries she spilled out all of her plans for celebration. She had bought her daughter-in-law a gift and she and her son were planning out a shared meal in honor of the special day.
It sounded fabulous. And slowly, in ways I barely noticed, expectation crept in.
What a nice idea, huh? A day off right when the sleepless nights were starting to stack up. One day to not cook or clean anything, a day to read or relax, while others did all the work. Gifts. A delicious meal. How lovely.
Maybe you are quicker at picking up on reality than I was back then, but Mother’s Day with a nursing infant doesn’t quite look like that. The baby didn’t stop getting hungry every few hours, in my honor. He didn’t stopping filling his diaper or needing a little help burping.
Life didn’t change because it was Mother’s Day. It didn’t change the year there were two small children or three. And it hasn’t changed much when there are four.
Maybe the only thing that changes on Mother’s Day are my expectations?
For as long as I could remember I have enjoyed this little holiday we call Mother’s Day. As a child I remember my parents buying corsages for my grandmothers to wear to church on this day. In school we crafted small and humble gifts to take home and give to our mothers. It was a day of sunshine and flowers as we recognized the women who bore us.
But something changed when I had children of my own – expectation entered the picture.
Expectation may very well be the most deadly threat to contentedness, to gratefulness, to motherhood.
Quietly we harbor expectations for our spouses, our kids, our parents, holidays. They seep in from dark corners, quiet places, the internet, and we barely even notice it’s happening. They shape our view of the status quote, what we think we need, deserve. Just as dust collects on the flat surfaces of our homes, expectation settles into the flat spaces of our hearts. No area is exempt.
Back when I first became a mom I didn’t even have social media to contend with. I only learned of someone else’s brilliant holiday plans from a grocery store clerk. Now we get to see highlight reels, cropped, edited and filtered, with only a quick swipe on our phone. We don’t have to imagine that everyone else’s home is cleaner, that their kids are smarter or more athletic, that they were gifted beautiful bouquets and hours of rest on the holiday in their honor, we get to see pictures of it first hand, videos in real time.
Expectation doesn’t even have to be sneaky anymore, we invite it in.
But what if we didn’t? What if we stomped the embers, cut off the oxygen before they caught fire? What if we threw water on the whole mess of it?
I have seen expectation ruin Mother’s Day for new moms and old, moms who are just getting used to their title and mothers who have worn it for decades now.
We wish our husbands would help more, our kids would call more, someone would notice and pick up the slack. We wish we could relax and not serve endlessly and maybe, just for a day, the kids would stop fighting.
And our wishes are real. Normal even.
But what if we stepped ahead of them and set our hearts on gratitude? What if we stepped ahead of expectation and chose how we view this day, this life, this work we’ve been given?
What if we celebrated Mother’s Day, full of thanksgiving and free of expectation?
Yes, you might still change diapers and sweep crumbs. Your grown kids might forget to call. But that changes nothing.
You, you mom, have been given one of the greatest opportunities on earth. You own a title some women have begged God for, spent hours in doctor’s office trying to make happen, cried bitter tears for, to no avail. You have been given a front row seat to life in all its messiness. The opportunity to work out your faith in fear and trembling as a piece of your own heart marches around outside your body is like no other.
These kids of yours have drawn you in to prayer and helped you see the Father’s love like never before.
Your children have helped you understand the unfathomable concept of unconditional love.
You have grown in grace and patience, in perseverance and understanding, all because God chose you to be their mom.
It is tiring. Endlessly tiring. But it is a gift you have already received and continue unwrapping to this day.
Need nothing more. Expect nothing else. This job, this opportunity is huge. And wild. And more than enough.
This Mother’s Day, let’s simply choose to be thankful – for the chance to shape hearts and souls, while we bravely trust that God is doing that very same thing in us.
Let’s strong-arm Mother Day’s into gratitude and rid our hearts of any exceptions. Dust the cobwebs before they even settle.
This may be the very key to a truly wonderful Mother’s Day.