Monday, May 7, 2012

Mother's Day is Coming Up: How Are We Doing?

As a child, the second Sunday in May meant it was officially Be Nice to Mom Day.  It wasn't until I was married that I began to understand just how difficult Mother's Day can be for women.  Single women.  Married women.  Women without children.  Women with children. 

What lies at the heart of our sorrow and discontent?  Judgment.  Comparison and contrast.  Mother's Day can stand, for women, not just as a day to honor the hard work and sacrifices of our own mothers, but also as a performance review check.  And let me tell you, I think we are often much too hard on ourselves. 

I attended a conference earlier this year, and one of the speakers really impressed me.  (The fact that I don't remember her name reflects more on the state of my memory than her ability as a speaker.) Anyway, she talked about how she doesn't consider herself a refined woman, but that she admires those women who always have their hair perfectly groomed, and who are poised in all situations.  Well, she decided that when she moved to a new neighborhood, she was going to be one of "those" women.  The unflappable ones.  The ones who exude grace and charm.  She then told about going to church in her new ward, standing up to introduce herself, and not being able to make it through an introduction before her real self came through.  Somehow, in the short span of an introduction, she managed to mention the challenges involved in living in a home that was under construction.  (Something about having to visit an outhouse?) She felt like she failed at grace and charm. 

I could relate.  For whatever reason (maybe I lack the Barbie gene), I've never considered myself a particularly poised person.  How does this relate to feelings of inadequacy on Mother's Day?  Well, in our annual performance review check, we tend to think of all the things a mother "should" be, never taking into account our own specialized subset of skills. 

Have you seen the movie, "My Best Friend's Wedding"?  Remember when Julia Roberts is talking to Cameron Diaz and compares her to creme brulee?  She suggests that Dermot Mulroney might prefer jello.  Cameron Diaz says that she could be jello, and Julia Roberts replies that "creme brulee can never be jello."  I prefer to think of myself as some sort of chocolate hazelnut raspberry concoction, but nevertheless, I am not creme brulee.  And that's OK!

My self-imposed performance review checklist should not include ratings for tasks that are not part of my job.  The problem is, the ideal mother is perfect at everything.  So, we take the ideal and realize we fall far short.  However, it is ridiculous to think that any one person will be expert at everything.  Instead of minimizing the importance of our own talents and coveting the talents of others, we should instead improve upon the skills and interests we already have.  That's not to say we shouldn't try new things, but we don't have to beat ourselves up if we aren't proficient in what appears to be a basic life skill of another person.  (I will spare you the details of how I spent an unsuccessful HOUR trying to apply fingernail polish.  On a related note, I wear my hair curly because that is what is easiest, not to mention it suits my unpolished self.)

So, my fellow women, this week let's be patient with ourselves.  Let's graciously allow our children, husbands, friends, and family to say "Happy Mother's Day" without us having to explain why we don't really deserve the greeting.  Let's celebrate the many and varied talents we have.  Just because something comes easy to us, doesn't mean it is unimportant.  Regardless of our situation, each of us possesses traits that benefits family and friends. 

Dieter F. Uchtdorf said to women in Sept. 2009, "May I invite you to rise to the great potential within you. But don’t reach beyond your capacity. Don’t set goals beyond your capacity to achieve. Don’t feel guilty or dwell on thoughts of failure. Don’t compare yourself with others. Do the best you can, and the Lord will provide the rest."

Thankful thought:  Thanks to all women: single, married, childless or not. 

3 comments:

  1. I really liked this! Thanks for sharing it!

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  2. I totally understand what you are saying, Kristi. Sometimes just a bit of Creme Brulee is good, but for the most part, jello is much more down-to-earth. I think I'm more of a jello woman, but with a bit of cool whip -- just a bit....lol!
    ~CAS~

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