“Mom! Mom! Mom! MOM!” my son yelled from the top of the stairs. I had just poured myself a cup of coffee and sat down to write in my journal. I only have two desires in the morning—coffee and journaling. If I don’t get both before kids wake, I don’t get them at all. Plus, I haven’t been sleeping well. Typically, I wake feeling over-heated and dehydrated at least twice a night. I’m sure it is hormonal.
“Yes?” I answered.
“Come here, please!”
“What do you need from me?”
“I need YOU! I NEED you!”
And up the stairs I went. When I got to the top of the stairs, I asked again, “What do you need from me?”
“Nothing. I just want you to carry me downstairs.”
And thus began my Mother’s Day. No flowers. I’m fine with that. I’d rather get them on a non-holiday for no reason at all. No breakfast in bed. I’m cool with that, too. Eating in bed is very unappealing to me. But damn, how I had wanted a morning in which I would be a little less needed.
When I was growing up, Mother’s Day was always celebrated the same. We went to church where the sermon always had something to do with motherhood. Maybe it was about how the Virgin Mary experienced all the usual joys and frustrations of motherhood. Maybe it was about how mothers (and fathers) are charged with the responsibility of living their faith. Mothers and grandmothers all wore corsages to church on Mother’s Day. White flowers—especially white orchids—were worn by women whose own mothers were dead. Then, after church, we ate at the country club. I don’t remember the food. I do remember drinking Shirley Temples.
We could have had an up-dated version of the Mother’s Day of my childhood. My nephew graduated from college on Saturday. We went to the ceremony and to the party that followed. My sister-in-law had invited us to spend the night. We could have gone to church with her family. We could have gone to brunch with them—at their country club. I could have even ordered a Shirley Temple—or a Bloody Mary.
We opted not to take her up on her generous offer. Why? College kids party into the wee-hours, don’t they? At least, that’s what I remember from my own college days. I wanted to be in bed before 4 am.
Besides, I knew that my husband had big Mother’s Day plans for me. I knew he had purchased two vintage plant-holders that he and our children were painting. Several times during the week, I had been warned by my daughter not to go into the basement, and when I had to venture down there, she said, “If you see anything old and wooden, just ignore them. They aren’t for you.” Yeah, that’s not the least bit suspicious.
I also knew my guy was planning to cook dinner for me. On Friday, he had gone fishing and returned with a 35 lb. striped bass. Let’s put this into perspective—that fish weighed more than our son. I’m not a huge fan of bass, but I am a fan of someone else doing the cooking, and so, I was looking forward to that—a nice, low-key Mother’s Day with just the four of us.
That delusion didn’t last long. My son needed me to carry him down the stairs. Then, he needed me to cook him breakfast. Then, my daughter woke. She needed me to help her find her hair brush. I kept trying to hand over some of the parenting to my husband, but my children wanted mom and only mom. I guess I should have been flattered, but I wasn’t. And please spare me the lecture on how I will one day miss being needed. I’m sure that you are right, but for now, I don’t want to hear about it.
And please understand, my husband is an awesome father. He’s very involved, and our children do go to him with their needs. They see him as a problem-solver, a teacher, a confidant, a disciplinarian, a comforter, a champion, and all those other things parents are called to be—provided I am not around. I suspect this is a dynamic you find in most households with children. If Mom is available, why settle for Dad?
So, after kids were dressed and fed, they followed my guy outside to work on that mysterious Mother’s Day surprise, and I went up-stairs to my bedroom thinking, “NOW, I will write!”
And within a few minutes of making that announcement, my paint-splattered children ran back into the house carrying a toad they had caught. Hmmm…children + paint + toad + running through the house? How does this equation ever not end in a mess?
Now, if you know me in real life, or even if you just follow my blog, you know that I am the type of parent who encourages outdoor play, paint-splattering, and toad-catching—provided the toad doesn’t get hurt. I hate messes, but I’m not afraid of them. I see a mess as a byproduct of life. However, cleaning up a kid-paint-toad mess is NOT how I wanted to spend Mother’s Day—especially since I was operating on very little sleep and no journal-writing time.
That’s when I made the decision to leave. To run away. On Mother’s Day. I showered, dressed, and informed my family that I would be back in time for dinner. Then, I left.
Sadly, without a plan, I ended up at the mall. I’m pretty sure Hell is a 24-hour mall with no exits. I’m just not a shopper, and I really don’t know why I would go to a mall other than I was struck by the urge to spend money on myself. Having recently changed over my wardrobe to make the warm-weather wear more accessible, I knew I wanted to replace certain items, such as sandals. I really wanted new sandals.
And I had been promising myself a cookbook—Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything: The Basics—since first seeing it in December when I bought it for my cousin. A cookbook is a great Mother’s Day gift—to myself.
So, that is what I did on Mother’s Day. I abandoned my family and went shopping for sandals and a book. I feel no guilt over this.
When I returned home, that fabulous Mother’s Day surprise still wasn’t finished, but my husband was cooking the bass. I kissed him. I thanked him. I showed him my new sandals and cookbook, and I felt very celebrated. More than anything else, I felt good that I had not stayed home feeling frustrated by the lack of writing time. Had I done so, I might be calling this blog entry “The Worst Mother’s Day Ever.”