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What Mother’s Day means to me, according to real moms

Each year, a day is set aside to celebrate the women who raise us and, in the case of mothers, the fact that we’re now raising babies of our own. It’s a special day, ideally beginning with breakfast in bed and ending with lots of little hugs and kisses.

Of course, what’s that they say about the best-laid plans? Mamas know more than most that life rarely plays out according to plan. Motherhood, as it were, is a beautiful mess.

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So we asked real moms to weigh in on what Mother’s Day really means to them — not the Hallmark version of the day or how they hope it pans out this year (fingers crossed), but the very real things they’ve come to correlate with this matriarchal holiday.

Here’s what they had to say.

“Mother’s Day to me is going somewhere fun, like the water park. Of course, once we’re there, I wind up carrying everyone else’s stuff around and chasing my toddler while the bigger kids and their dad get to go on all the awesome slides and frolic in the wave pool. That’s how we spent last Mother’s Day, and I had a hurt arm to boot! But you know what? It’s still fun, because I’m with my favorite people.” — Kerri M.

“It’s my first Mother’s Day so I’m a little mushy but, honestly, it’s just another day. My husband has to work and my kid doesn’t sleep. Like, ever. Just another sleep-deprived day spent with my favorite little girl and with the mother I did the same thing to!” — Whitney S.

“It used to be a given that I’d get flowers, which I personally dislike getting very much. So after 10 years of protesting, I now get chocolate-covered strawberries. I may actually eat two of them, because the kids devour the rest. I usually cook breakfast on my special day and clean the mess after all six of us eat. Then it’s a rat race to get everyone together for church and off to my mom’s to celebrate her special day as well. Every day is a snot-slinging, butt-wiping, tantrum-throwing kind of a day… even on Mother’s Day, haha!” — Shannon J.

More: How to make the most of Mother’s Day when you’re trying to conceive

“Ah, yes. Mother’s Day — where the greeting cards are bought with my money and so generously given to me and somehow meal prep still ends up on the agenda. But, hey, I usually get chocolate! I don’t care if I did technically pay for it; that’s a win in my book.” Susan P.

“To me, Mother’s Day means having a big day of exciting things planned to do, like hiking a new trail and trying a new restaurant… and then remembering I have a toddler and he is going to spend the entire hike running away into the woods, not to mention screaming like he’s being murdered at the restaurant. Yet, when all is said and done, still having a great time.” — Katie P.

“Due to my husband’s hectic work schedule (boooo for swing shifts!), I have spent every Mother’s Day by myself since my first child was born four and half years ago. So I spend it like every other day of my life… a little crazy, filled with lots of toys, poopy diapers, food on the walls, crying kids, hearing ‘Mommy’ yelled at the top of little lungs and also lots of love, hugs and kisses. It’s not always easy, but it is always what I want.” — Nikki H.

“Getting to drink a cup of coffee without reheating it four times and sitting on the toilet without an audience… that is a true Mother’s Day gift!” — Natalie B.

“Mother’s Day, to me, is ‘sleeping in’ until the kids mutiny and my husband can no longer keep them at bay. It’s wrestling with my littles to get them dressed in their Sunday best and out the door on time. It’s listening to them ask ‘Are we there yet?’ roughly every 35 seconds for the hour-long drive to my mom’s house, where I wonder if I’ll ever be half the mother she has been to me. It’s forgetting to eat because I’m too busy picking egg salad out of one kid’s hair while trying to get the other to eat their veggies. And it’s hoping for a million more perfectly imperfect days just like it.” — Julie S.

More: 10 Mother’s Day gift ideas for every kind of mom

As you can tell, whether Mother’s Day is a hot mess or a well-oiled machine, one thing seems to be a universal constant: love. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas out there, whatever Mother’s Day may mean to you.

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