Skip to main content


May 12, 2010


Posted by Dana

In today's post, guest blogger Carrie Adams, author of THE STEPMOTHER shares her Mother's Days musings on how hard it is to measure up the Hallmark version of Mom.  As a mom myself, I know where she's coming from.  Sometimes we cry over our failures, and sometimes over how amazing our kids have turned out... this year I cried because my daughter gave me the perfect gift.  She walked the dog (my ususal morning chore) and let me sleep in.  And I didn't even tell her that's what I wanted!

stepmother.jpgMother’s Day is over for another year, and with it the promise that the million and one things a mother does on a daily basis can somehow be repaid, or hell, just appreciated.  Of course they cannot, that isn’t really the point of parenting, yet secretly, inside, am I the only one who hopes that this time the fanfare will be loud enough to lift me out of the often ignored doldrums of domesticity?  I was lucky, I got the tea in bed, the flowers and a lovely card that told me I was ‘The Best Mom In The World’ (actually it said Mum, and being a Brit, was back in March, so I have had time to reflect… but you get the gist).  Instead of soaring with happiness, I felt a bit blue.  The truth is I fail my three young children on a daily basis, I love them brutally but sometimes I find it hard to be a good parent.  It is usually only after I’ve made a gross error of judgement that it becomes blindingly obvious I was making things worse and usually because of something that had nothing to do with them.  I have literally wept, wailed and at one particularly exasperating time, smacked my own head against a wall when a bedtime tantrum went stratospheric.  No Hallmark card has ever managed to package that particular feeling of staring over a precipice and wanting to jump – and these are my own children.  My heart goes out to those who are step-parents trying to wade through this quagmire, which was why I so wanted to write The Stepmother.  It should have had the tag line – A Sympathetic Novel.  

When I did a parenting course I discovered why the Mother’s Day card left me feeling more of a failure.  It wasn’t only the unreachable expectations of a Hallmark moment, it was about the wording on the card itself.  Superlative praise is less well received than descriptive praise.  ‘It’s a brilliant painting’ falls on my four year old’s suspicious ears, however, ‘I like how you’ve blended the colours’ is received as it was delivered, honestly.  So rather than the loaded Mother’s Day perhaps what we need is an Everyday is an Up and Down Day, every day, and Hallmark can produce a range of cards that descriptively praise us in a way we can trust.  ‘Hey mom, I know you lost your  temper over that parking ticket and then took it out on me, but I love you all the same.’  Or – ‘Not doing too badly… considering’.  Or better still, ‘I know I am a pain in the butt sometimes, but man, so are you’. 

With Everyday is an Up and Down Day, expectations can remain within reachable limits and compassion and forgiveness can become second nature to us all, since we all make mistakes, adults and children alike.  Then the only card that says ‘you’re the best mom in the world’, is the one we write ourselves and hold out to our own as we lay prostrate at their feet and beg their forgiveness for the hell we put them through when we were children.

-- Carrie Adams, Author