Self-Care Journal

A Glimpse of Reality: Mother's Day Beyond the Glossy Ads

How was your Mother’s Day?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been seeing nothing but ads of mums who supposedly have it all figured out. But let’s be real, as a working mum of three, my Mother’s Day didn’t quite match up to those glossy images.

I am aware that every message of appreciation on and in the lead up to our “special day” is meant to recognise the tireless effort we put into keeping our families running smoothly (and by effort, I mean every fibre of our being and sanity) - but the irony couldn’t be thicker.

The preparation

It all starts about a month before the big day with having to organise not only my own gift, but also gifts for my mother and mother-in-law. As if I didn’t already have enough on my plate…

The joy of navigating expectations of not one, but two matriarchs feels like threading a needle while riding a unicycle.
As I tiptoe through the minefield of my own mother’s subtle hints and my mother-in-law’s not-so-subtle suggestions, I can't help but marvel at the complexity of it all.

Finding the perfect present for my own dear mum is a task akin to deciphering ancient hieroglyphics. I toss between something sentimental to tug at her heartstrings, or a practical item she’ll actually use.

And then there is the matter of selecting a gift for my ever-discerning mother-in-law—a woman whose taste is as elusive as the Loch Ness monster.
Maybe I play it safe with a gift card to her favourite store, or better opt for a meticulously curated gift basket filled with artisanal delights? The options are as endless as the eye rolls I’ll undoubtedly receive if I miss the mark.

While I begrudgingly sift through gift options and mentally tally up the potential pitfalls, I can’t help but wonder if there is a Nobel Prize for successfully navigating Mother’s Day gift-giving. Because if there is, I have earned it.

Fast-forward to Mother’s Day: The morning

My day starts with my eyelids being pried open by sticky little fingers at the crack of dawn, all in the name of serving me breakfast in bed.
Of course it’s the sweetest thing to be celebrated by your kids, the excitement in their little eyes melts my stone-cold heart, but in all honesty, I would’ve appreciated a few more hours of shut-eye—I’m running on fumes here.

I try to ignore the crumbs in my bed, but I can’t help making a mental note to change the sheets later. Talk about feeling the love. And don’t even get me started on the kitchen—I bet you it looks like it’s been hit by a tornado…

Then comes the inevitable quarrel over who got me the best present. Oh yay, another mug! I show my gratitude with a big cuddle while I recallthankfullywho remembered to slip the money into their school bags on Mother’s Day Stall Day. 

Then there’s the curious unicorn glitter perfume infused with fresh tomatoesa creation by my five-year-oldand of course the handmade cards with scribbled words of love that make my heart swell.

But you know what would be a really great gift? If my husband took the kids out of the house, so I can have a couple of hours of quiet to myself… I'm exhausted.

On to the afternoon

After the chaotic morning, the day trudges on with a series of well-meaning but slightly off-target attempts at making me feel appreciated.

As my parents and in-laws arrive, we hand over the gifts - I hold my breath for a second, but it looks like no one is going to complain - a win in my books.
The kids are excited and shift their attention onto other people for a while. We have some cake and it's all quite lovely, I actually manage to drink a hot cup of tea for once!

I think of the love and sacrifice that both my mother and mother-in-law have poured into my life. Mother’s Day may be a headache-inducing ordeal, but it’s also a chance to honour the incredible women who came before us and have shaped us into who we are today.

As the day goes on, I find myself refereeing sibling squabbles, cleaning up messes that seem to multiply exponentially, and wondering if there’s any chance of sneaking in a moment of peace and quiet.

But amid the chaos, there are also moments of genuine connection and laughter—those precious snippets of time that make it all worthwhile.

Evening reflections

By the time the sun begins to set, I'm spent and I find myself reflecting on the rollercoaster of emotions that come with motherhood—the exhaustion, the frustration, the overwhelming love.

It’s messy and imperfect, but it’s also beautiful in its own chaotic way.

So, Happy Mother’s Day to all the mums out there—I hope your day was filled with love, laughter, and maybe just a little bit of peace and quiet.

Remember, even on the days when it feels like everything is falling apart, you’re doing an amazing job.


If Mother's Day is hard for you, remember to talk to a friend or contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14 for 24-hour support. You're not alone.


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