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My Mother’s Day was … fine. Half of my kids told me “happy Mother’s Day” without being reminded. My husband said, “I ordered you a present, but it’s going to come in late.” We went to the garden center, where I bought some veggie plants and a lilac bush. I grocery-shopped and made a variety of desserts for my extended family, who came over for a few hours in the afternoon. Then I capped off the day folding laundry — per usual — and feeling slightly bummed for no discernible reason. After all, my Mother’s Day had been a perfectly decent day. The occasion was at least acknowledged. And if the same series of events had happened on any other Sunday, I’d probably have ended it thinking, “What a nice day today was.”
But … it was Mother’s Day. And I felt like it should’ve been, well, a little bit more … celebratory?
I don’t know what I expected. Not a parade, not a gourmet breakfast in bed, not a bunch of extravagant gifts. I have four sons — three teenagers and a tween — who can barely see past their own noses some days. (And with a weekly grocery bill as steep as ours, extravagant gifts are definitely off the table.) Nobody acted like an a-hole or ignored the day entirely, so I couldn’t understand why I still felt a bit empty.
And then, on top of that empty feeling, the guilty voice in my head started nagging: Everyone told you “happy Mother’s Day.” You spent a zero-drama day with your family who loves you. You got stuff you wanted. Why are you being so freaking ungrateful?!
Because I tend to listen to that guilty voice pretty regularly (ugh), I had resigned myself to the fact that I must simply be a self-absorbed and unappreciative “me-monster” who couldn’t be happy with what I had.
But when I saw this priceless Instagram advice about “post-Mother’s Day letdown” from Dr. Becky Kennedy, psychologist and bestselling author of Good Inside: A Guide to Becoming the Parent You Want to Be, everything suddenly made sense. More importantly, I no longer felt like such a colossal jerk. I wasn’t alone!
“If you’re feeling post-Mother’s Day letdown, you’re feeling disappointed, you’re feeling angry, you keep thinking, ‘That day was like any other day. It didn’t feel special at all’ — you are not alone,” Dr. Becky begins, and wham — it was like she was speaking directly to me.
“We often feel especially resentful and reactive when there’s a big gap between how seen and appreciated we feel by other people, and how seen and appreciated we even feel by ourselves,” she continues. And, apparently, feeling less crappy about it starts with us — via that inner voice I was complaining about earlier. Who knew?!
Dr. Becky says she isn’t letting anyone off the hook, because of course we deserve to be validated and appreciated by those in our lives who we do so much for, but that we can help change the narrative by first changing how we talk to ourselves.
“We can start to feel a little bit more grounded,” Dr. Becky says, “and honestly feel a little bit better by just starting to see ourselves, recognizing everything we do. By making the invisible work more visible.”
I don’t know about you, but when it comes to motherhood, I so often dwell on everything I’m not getting done, or everything I’m not getting right. Congratulating myself for the tremendous load I do successfully carry felt almost … revolutionary.
“[L]et me tell you: Your feelings are valid. You do so much for your family, and it’s frustrating when your time and effort isn’t recognized,” Dr. Becky captioned the post-Mother’s Day letdown video. “On Mother’s Day you wish to feel extra special and seen for all the hard work you put in. That makes sense! … Below in the comments, write something that you know you’ve been doing. Recognize your effort. Give yourself credit for all you do. Let’s rally around this together!”
Moms came out in droves to comment the valuable things we do every day — from the seemingly-mundane yet still crucial, like doing laundry and making sure everybody has toilet paper, to the incredibly courageous, like caring for a baby in the pediatric intensive care unit and getting sober for the sake of the kids. And reading through those comments served as a much-needed reminder that moms, myself included, are so often the glue holding things together, the safe place through any storm, the ones who — tirelessly and thanklessly — keep domestic life running like a well-oiled machine. Both the big things and the nitty-gritty details of every day.
“I am LOVING seeing everyone list out all that they do,” said one commenter, and, well, same. “Shout it from the rooftops! Hardest best job ever.”
“I am so happy to see this reel,” commented another. “I was feeling this same way all day and felt so upset with myself for being disappointed. I got in my own head and ruined Mother’s Day all by myself.”
So if you felt a bit let down by Mother’s Day this year — or outright bitterly disappointed — we see you. You are not ungrateful, and you most definitely are not alone. No manner of Mother’s Day celebration could ever be as validating as being truly recognized and appreciated for all we do, every single, relentless day — and that recognition only comes, for our kids at least, in hindsight as they become adults and parents. It’s no wonder we’re always left feeling a little (or a lot) under-celebrated.
Trust me when I say that Dr. Becky’s advice for feeling better is amazing. Even if no one else says it, we need to say it to ourselves often — because we could all use a reminder of exactly how badass we are, on Mother’s Day and every day.
Even when you’re famous, Mom Guilt is a thing, as these celebrity moms show.
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