Why I feel like a fraud on Mother’s Day.
This Mother’s Day, take a stroll down the card aisle at your neighborhood Rite-Aid and see what it means to be a mother: “Mom, you’re the best cook, the best teacher, the best nurse and the best listener anyone could ever hope for!” “Thank you for being the one who nurtured and cared for me -- and cheered me on through it all!” Mother’s Day celebrates moms who are in the trenches day after day, raising the kids, running the home, packing the lunches, planning the play dates, washing the washcloths, and somehow holding it all together. Mother’s Day celebrates Mom, the ultimate caretaker of her brood.
I’m a mom with three kids under the age of six -- and a nagging feeling that Mother’s Day just isn’t for me.
I don’t wash dishes, clean toilets, grocery shop, cook dinner, book doctor’s appointments, or remember that it’s Pajama Day at preschool this Thursday. Unless a boo-boo happens after hours or on a weekend, I’m not the first responder on the scene with kisses and Band-Aids. I don’t prep Little League post-game snacks or make sure my son’s uniform is clean before game time. Nope, that’s their dad, not me.
Early on, we decided one of us would stay home to raise our kids until they got into school. In our household, that has been my husband, the primary caregiver to our three children. Now that he has started to work part-time, a nanny has joined our team, so household responsibilities are still getting done -- just not by me. I do my part with birthday parties, holidays and summer camp, but not day-to-day caretaking. Instead, I am the primary breadwinner, moneymaker, bank-account-filler…whatever you want to call it. It’s my job to create value outside the home so that I am compensated at the level needed to run our household.
So on Mother’s Day, when everyone is celebrating magnificent Mom, the greatest giver of all, I feel like a fraud. The type of mom we’re celebrating is not who I am. It feels like I am standing in for my husband -- or our nanny -- who should be getting all the accolades.
Meanwhile, 42% of women are the sole or primary breadwinners in their families – 42%! Women are stepping into a new role that takes the same planning, strategy and patience required to raise children, but directed toward a different goal. While at times I miss dinner or bedtime, I make the most of the time that I have with them, marveling in their magnificence – and, all the while, believing I offer an example of ambition, can-do, and persistence.
I’m proof that you can have dreams and chase them. That women can support their families. That moms can be a different sort of role model -- not one who’s selfless, but one who’s both loving and living her own path. And that, no matter what, their mother loves and believes in them and their dreams…because she loves and believes in hers, too.
Hallmark, it’s time to look beyond what has been and open your eyes to what else there is. I want to get a card that says “Thank you for kicking ass, Mom!” or “To my mom, the trailblazer!” or how about “Thank you for showing me I CAN”?
Let’s celebrate moms for who they are, not only what they give up and sacrifice. Speak to women like me, who believe that life expands with children but doesn’t have to center around them. Not because building your life around your kids is wrong, but because that’s just not them, or just not them right now.
Happy Mother’s Day to every single kind of mom there is. May we together raise the most open-minded, loving and go-getter generation yet.