The Playroom: Mother's Day

Author: Maraya Steadman '89, '90MBA

Maraya Steadman

Mother’s Day is supposed to be about me, so I’m not supposed to do anything. My family tries to do the stuff I would normally do: make dinner, clean the house, pick up the dog poop in the backyard.

Making me a meal annoys me because I micromanage the entire thing, which I like to think has nothing to do with my controlling personality but I’m wrong. I can’t manage to let my husband and children plan, shop and execute a single meal without getting so involved I might as well just do it myself. I don’t want anyone to clean up the house because the wailing, the tears and the anguish makes me want to leave and go live somewhere else. And the dog poop in the garbage bag being swung around my son’s head like a sling is more excitement than I can handle.

I also don’t want anyone to buy me gifts. Well, that’s not true. I just bought myself a pair of noise cancellation headphones, and they would have made a perfect Mother’s Day present.

When my children were younger they would make crafts and cards at school and bring them home in their lunch boxes, wrapped in plastic grocery store bags so I wouldn’t see them. Big crayon hearts on construction paper telling me I’m the best mom ever. But as my children get older, the handmade gifts in the lunch boxes don’t come home as often as they used to.

Last year, a friend wrote to me that her youngest had given her an adorable craft for Mother’s Day, the only one of her four children to give her anything. The older three tormented the youngest to the point of tears. She then went to Mass with her four children, but on Mother’s Day, of all days, her oldest daughter refused to sit with her, and sat in another pew.

I listened to my friend and had no words of comfort to offer her, other than, “I’m sorry. Mother’s Day can suck around here too.”

She then decided that instead of waiting for her children to do things for her, she would act like a grown up and do something for them. I was stunned by her grace and generosity, inspired by her selflessness, especially after her daughter wouldn’t even sit with her in church. So I thought I’d give it a go, and try to follow my friend’s example.

Dear All of You,

I don’t like Mother’s Day because it upsets the order around here. You don’t need to cook a meal or pick up dog poop to make me feel special. Simple requests, asking for a cuddle or help with your homework, make me feel special every day.

I am grateful for your presence in our home and in my life — grateful for your arms around my waist, daffodils by the kitchen sink and kisses on the sidewalk.

You created a family. No matter how angry I get over spelling tests, hockey skates or messy bedrooms, at the end of every day, when I pause before going to bed and I watch you sleeping, you bring me joy and complete my life.

I am an observer learning, growing, laughing, crying, yelling, praying, falling down, getting back up, clapping, cheering, holding you close, letting you go, wondering if I can do better, if I’m doing my best, asking your forgiveness, walking beside you, watching you run, drawing strength from your energy, faith and enthusiasm.

A quote attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson surrounds the mirror hung on the bedroom wall. “Never miss an opportunity to see something beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.”

Looking at my life, I am humbled by your beauty reflecting back at me.

Big crayon hearts and construction paper. You are the best kids ever.

I love you,


Maraya Steadman, who lives in a Chicago suburb, is a stay-at-home mother of three children. Her website is Email her at