Happy Mother’s Day to those of you who are moms.
That said, I will now confess that I don’t care for Mother’s Day. I feel sorry for the husbands and kids who are expected to send flowers and make breakfast and provide chocolates and clean up. Clean up! There are all these expectations swirling around an arbitrary day where we’re supposed to remind ourselves that mothers are special. I believe the intention of the consumer (never mind the financial beneficiaries of this Day of Appreciation) is sincere. But the whole thing just feels so artificial, and for the last few years I’ve really felt sorry for my kids as they try to figure out how to stay out of trouble.
Because if you do nothing on Mother’s Day, you are in trouble.
If you sleep in past when Mom is hungry, you are in trouble.
If your dad rouses you at an ungodly hour and makes you set the table while your mom is pretending to be asleep but isn’t and can hear that Dad is the one making you do all the things you’re supposed to intuitively do even though you haven’t done them since last year when he roused you from bed at an ungodly hour and made you do them, you are in trouble.
It’s a very unnatural “holiday” with high expectations and misunderstandings because boys will be boys and moms don’t know how to be gracious about breakfasts delivered with a still-sleepy grunt.
Maybe your Mother’s Days are nothing like this.
Maybe you are (or have) a girl.
Sorry to be sexist, but it’s just different.
Anyway, my forget-chocolates-and-flowers-and-trying-to-cook,-all-I-really-want-is-a-homemade-card-where-you-tell-me-why-you-appreciate-me phase ended a few years ago when I told my husband to NOT DO ANYTHING or make the kids do anything. They were old enough to do something on their own and anything they were forced into wasn’t something I wanted anyway.
Mark had to work that Sunday and he was very nervous about this.
“Don’t say a word” I told him. “They know.”
So off to work he went.
And in they slept.
Because who was I to wake them up and tell them to fix me breakfast?
And then…well, whoops. They hadn’t made me a card. Or bought me chocolates. Or flowers.
“Uh…where’s Dad today?”
“At work, remember?”
They recovered not so quickly by offering to take me out for sushi.
It was 3:00.
Not wanting to be the Mother from Hell, I put on a smile and said, Great! So we piled into the minivan, and I drove us to the restaurant.
But I knew.
Neither had brought their wallet.
Before we went inside I asked, “You sure you have enough to cover sushi?”
They looked at each other and slowly an Uh-oh spread across their faces, fingers pointed at each other, and finally my younger son said, “But sushi’s expensive!”
Next door, was Taco Bell. They raided the change drawer in the van and managed to scrounge up about four dollars. Enough for some bean burritos.
Not wanting to be the Mother from Hell, I agreed to consume a gross bean burrito and I did it with a smile on my face.
It wasn’t easy.
On the drive home I tried to have a gentle talk with them about the small things that make a big difference to a mom. They said they got it.
And then we arrived home.
The first clue that this really was the Mother’s Day from Hell was the puddle of dog pee in the entry hall. It was pooled all over and around the beautiful antique petticoat table that I wrote about in an earlier post.
The dogs—Bongo and Jazz—who are sweet, wonderful whippets (and on this day became Risky Whippets), are only bad when they’re desperate. And since the boys hadn’t put them outside before we left for sushi (they are the boys’ dogs and have access only to the laundry room, the boys’ rooms, and the kitchen—they’re cordoned off from the rest of the house by a ‘baby gate’), and since they became desperate in our absence, they jumped the gate and raced around looking for an exit so they could do their business outside.
There was no way out.
And male dogs being leg-lifters proceeded to tag the entire house with their ample supply of stinky yellow liquid.
And, no, they weren’t just desperate to pee.
They laid logs.
And when I found some on an antique couch by a big window (which was as close to outside as the poor dog could get) I screamed. Like in an old fashioned movie, I held my face and screamed.
In the process of cleaning up this disaster, my son, completely wigged out by what had happened and frantic to help fix the situation, accidentally sprayed me in the eye with Lysol.
Yes, I screamed again.
It’s been a few years, and although it will live on in infamy we now laugh about the Mother’s Day from Hell. But it served to create a shift in our family. I want daily hugs. Daily thanks. And on Mother’s Day, I want to go out for brunch (which we did today) and have nothing more than my boys beside me, happy to be with me.
Here’s hoping your Mother’s Day involved lots of hugs, love, and absolutely no Lysol spray.