“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” ― Leo Tolstoy
In my last blog, I said I hadn’t found a “lesson” in my divorce. But that’s not exactly true. I may never be able to find a bright side to all of that, but I have learned a few things about myself. And on the eve of Mother’s Day, I thought I’d write about one.
You know, prior to all of this, holidays were sort of … disappointing. For example, on Mother’s Day, I would wake up in the morning and expect something to happen. I’m not sure even what. Breakfast in bed? A gift? A plan for the day? Something? But what would happen is a quick “Happy Mother’s Day” while I changed a diaper and a “What do you want to do today?” Deflated, I would suggest a few things, but all were usually met with, “Really? That? It’ll be crowded.” Or “The kids will be a nightmare.” And then we’d agree on something to do, but I always felt like no one really wanted to be there. I’d end the day a little sad and think, “Maybe next holiday?” or “Maybe next year?” But inevitably, every holiday was the same. I would work myself up about what it was supposed to be like, and then it would all come crashing down around me.
Now, don’t think I’m sitting her blaming my ex for failing to meet my expectations. Because what I learned about myself? Is that no one was going to meet those expectations. Because we were living in real life and not in a movie. Real diapers needed changing. And real kids needed to be fed. And we were real people who were really tired.
The first Mother’s Day after my divorce was a turning point for me with holidays. It was a bad weekend. Things were still raw. The kids were with their dad the day before. Things were not good between us, and then Mia woke up with strep. I was changing her in the morning and she was covered in a rash. The same rash Fynn had the week before. I called urgent care, set up an appointment and then crawled into bed with both kids to watch cartoons.
And I felt grateful. It’s so hard to explain. This feeling of gratefulness washed over me because I realized I got to do exactly what I loved on Mother’s Day. I got to be a mom.
I used to both anticipate and dread holidays. I knew that I would wake up in the morning excited and then go to bed at night sad.
Because … expectations.
Since that day, I wake up on holidays with literally no expectations. I plan for them. I bring the magic when I can, but I don’t expect anything from anyone. I don’t expect to feel anything. And every holiday since that day has been really wonderful. Have they been perfect? Ha! No. Strep and potty accidents and messy kitchens and meals that go uneaten.
But I’ve gone to bed happy every single time.
And because I don’t have these expectations, I’ve noticed how much room I have given for my kids to bring their own magic. Fynn has, so far, insisted on decorating the birthday cakes. He’s already planning what we’re doing tomorrow, though if it doesn’t happen it won’t matter.
Not to sound like a sappy TV movie, but all that matters to me is that I’ll be with them. Kissing foreheads, making dinners, caring for them (maybe sneaking in some book reading if I’m lucky), and loving them. That’s it. And it really is enough.
I often think about how I got in the way of my own happiness. How I expected something magical to happen to me during holidays. I expected someone to do something to “make me” feel some way about these days. And since I don’t expect it anymore, what I feel is grateful and happy.
I hope everyone has the Mother’s Day they want. But if you don’t, I hope you’re able to find the bright shining spots anyway.
Happy Mother’s Day, mamas! I’m grateful for all of you!