It’s Mother’s Day here in Australia (and in many parts of the world but not back in the UK) and it’s got me to thinking about what I do as a mum, what I don’t do, what value I add to our family, what I do that would be missed if I wasn’t around to do it.
I was thinking about what we do for my hubby on Father’s Day – what do we thank him for? He’s had a few more Fathers’ days than I’ve had Mothers’ Days and I have tried to do something (or many small things) for him on each of those days.
For me, before I was a mother, Mother’s Day (or Mothering Sunday in the UK) was about being present and thanking my mum for all the many things she has done for me: sacrifices she has made, hours she has worked, dinners she has cooked, discipline she has laid, the future she paved for me and so much more. And, of course, as I’ve become a mum that has not only underlined how important all those things that she did (and does still) are, but also it’s made me think of all the things that I didn’t even appreciate. Like just carrying my around in pregnancy, going through labour, putting her dreams on hold to care for me and make sure I was safe and loved.
And, back when I was little, it wasn’t commonplace for dads to share the load. And while my dad might have doted on me, I know he was not the most supportive partner to my mum. He did these amazing things like putting me to bed at night in the most creative and imaginative ways – Mickey and Minnie shows, songs with the guitar, reading Hobberdy Dick and The Chronicles of Narnia. And he picked me up from school, took me on bike rides, always came to find me, make me understand and say sorry to my mum when I had been playing up. But I also know that there were periods of time when mum was raising me alone, when she was doing her best for me when she probably was unhappy and stressed.
So, these days when I see the many, many articles out there on how dads need to do more for mum, and how a dad taking care of his child is not something impressive, it’s just ordinary – I completely agree with them. But when I read them I confess I realise I’m pretty damn lucky. Don’t get me wrong, I’m writing this on a day when I got given a Happy Birthday card instead of a Mother’s Day card, and when at 9am this morning we’d already had a fight about something silly. My life is not perfect – I didn’t get the perfect card and present, lunch wasn’t booked at my favourite place to eat and Little Miss DID vomit down the lovely outfit I picked for her today.
It doesn’t matter. Not really.
What matters is I never feel like I’m struggling without my husband’s help. And if I do – it’s only for a short time before he realises and switches things up. I am never the only one getting up in the night (not now we’re both back at work). I am definitely not the only one doing the cleaning – I think Mr OC vacuums nearly every day given half the chance. I do not have to worry about leaving him with her, because he shares the care. On Monday to Wednesday she goes to daycare, on Thursday she and I are home together, on Friday her and daddy are home together. Our home is an equal one.
And I know I’m one of the lucky ones. I know this isn’t the case for everyone. And I know there are times when I still have felt like I was weighed down with the magnitude of my responsibility. But these have always been finite periods of time and things always evened out.
So, today, when we are thankful for our mothers, I do hope to be thanked. I do want to be appreciated. But I also want to thank my husband, without whom I would have found motherhood even more challenging.