Should's and Horrible's


Well, I don’t know about you but my Mother’s Day sucked!

There, I said it. In the wake of countless Facebook posts from friends and family about breakfast in bed, brunch, lunch, walks in the forest, amazing gifts and dinners, my experience of Mother’s Day was far from this utopia. Made me feel sick and inadequate just looking at them. I couldn’t even “like” because it was a forced, expected response…poor me!

You know what really sux? It was like this last year, and the year before….for the last 14 years actually. It didn’t get off to a good start in 2003, and it’s never really progressed from the crawl that it started out as.

I didn’t get breakfast in bed. I didn’t even get a cuppa. Nope – playing the true victim, I got up early and then cooked a mighty breakfast for my family (all the while saying to my mum, this was her special day) then merrily, victimly proceeded to do all the washing up as well.

Yes, I got a gorgeous hand-made card from my 14 year old son. Yes, I got a lovely gift (even if I had picked it out myself and paid for it). Yes, I got a genuine hug from my family (son, mother, cat).

Then I proceeded to do the weekly washing (which I couldn’t do the day before because I was working), prepare lunches and baking for the week ahead, think about dinner, vacuum, clean the toilet and take my mum out for morning tea. All the while getting grumpier and grumpier and grumpier.

My teen decided to lock himself away in his room for most of the day and despite my less than subtle hints (well, I thought they were in-your-face) there was no invitation to go for a walk, play a game, have a chat, have lunch together…zip, nothing.

I played the beautiful passive aggressive game – you know, the one that men usually throw their hands up in despair at because they just can’t win – “mum, are you alright?” “Yes, I am fine…” Forced smile, turn your back, hold back the tears…why am I so misunderstood? I get more and more down, angry, sad, disappointed. I throw myself into the dishes and then the ironing….

God’s almighty…it’s a sign of insanity they say – to do the same thing over and over and expect a different outcome. It actually wasn’t until bedtime that the light finally came on.

Should’s and Horrible’s – I learned about these years ago. Something “should” be a particular way and when it’s not, then it is “horrible”. It is a sure way to sabotage your own happiness, and by default, the happiness of those around you. Self-sabotage is such a weird concept – you deliberate construct situations so that they will deliver the maximum pain-point and then tell yourself that “you deserve it”, you “aren’t loved/lovable/valued”, you are a “failure/victim”…a vicious circle of destructive thinking and behaviour. AND incredibly egotistical…!!! For example, these things were going through my head this past week….

My son’s father “should” be taking him out and teaching him about respecting his mother and honouring her (me!) on her birthday and Mother’s day. That NEVER happens, so it’s horrible.

I should be surprised by gifts and experiences on my birthday/mother’s day. I always end up making the plans, buying the gifts, making the meals/cakes and nothing is a surprise so it’s horrible.

My family should know that I value experiences over gifts and take me out for a walk. They lock themselves away and disconnect so it’s horrible. Bla, bla, fucking-bla….

My poor kid…what sort of parent does that? How the hell is he supposed to know how to act if I don’t guide him? How are my friends expected to plan any surprise if I don’t even tell them it’s my birthday? I know that my son’s father is useless at role-modeling for his son and has been for 14 years, so why do I punish myself (and everyone else) for that?

Time for a bit of re-framing. It takesa fair bit of self-compassion to realise that you are punishing yourself, and a LOT of courage to step outside this conditioning and try to change. It all starts with how you see yourself. What if I could replace the “should’s” with “can’t”…

My son’s father “can’t” take him out and teach him about respecting his mother because he isn’t emotionally capable or willing – it’s not a reflection on me…it doesn’t mean I can’t teach my son these things. I can take back the power, drop the victim and replace the “horrible” with something new!

I can’t be surprised by gifts and experiences on special days because I don’t express clearly to my family and friends what I really want or need. If I communicate better with them that I love surprises and spontaneity then we all win.

My family can’t know that I value experiences over gifts because I don’t allow them in to offer these things – I am the one who disconnects by hiding away behind dishes, washing and vacuum cleaners – and how is a 14 year old boy expected to make me a cup of tea or breakfast in bed if I get up at 5am and do it first!!!???

So…here is my pledge for today onwards. I am not a victim. I may be a single parent and need to do the chores on my birthday and on Mother’s Day. But I still have my own mother, I have a beautiful young human being as my son, I have the joy of people who love me, a roof over my head, 2 legs and working lungs to walk with, I have everything that makes me happy if I will choose to experience it.

Should's and Horrible's begone…This coming Sunday I think we might just try that Mother’s Day thing again….

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