Ahh Mother’s Day. The only other day of the year besides my birthday when I guiltlessly hand off the baby and delegate trips to help the toddler pee. Don’t misunderstand – I do those things every day of the year, but it’s usually with a twinge of guilt. He is already working so hard or He just sat down to relax. Also don’t misunderstand – I ask for what I need in child-rearing not so I can kick up my feet, but because life in our household is a three-ring circus, and where the kids are concerned, I have emerged as the ring-leader.
Side note: I recently saw an article somewhere about an email service that reminds new dads to do certain helpful dad-tasks such as bring nursing mothers a glass of water. Men and women readers alike were outraged at the condescending nature of such a service, as if the tasks mentioned would be obvious to any idiot. I asked David his opinion, and he thought it was a great idea. Don’t misunderstand – I can’t imagine a more hard-working, caring, sensitive partner. But not everything about raising children comes naturally to either of us all the time.
Yesterday when imagining my ideal Mother’s Day, I pictured myself in a quiet place, all alone, drinking a perfect cup of coffee. I told this to David.
First thing Mother’s Day morning, though, all I could think about was pancakes. David offered to make me breakfast. Sweet, thoughtful, I know. But here was the visual his offer produced: him making a “quick” dash to the store while I humored the kids, then him cooking while I humored the kids (getting bored by now and whining for treats), then a kitchen full of dishes, which he’d insist on cleaning up while I entered into ever more contentious negotiations about Lucky Charms. If you’re thinking, But they just ate, then you are not familiar with three year-olds.
So he offered to stay home with the kids while I got pancakes. Also sweet, thoughtful, I know. Seriously, he’s the best. But the idea of getting on some wait-list at IHOP by myself on Mother’s Day was beyond depressing.
In the end – because the pull of pancakes was fierce – we did what I’d originally tried to avoid. We waited 30 minutes for our turn to trade off a squirrelly baby and spirited toddler while taking any spare opportunity to shovel a forkful of pancake into our faces.
Now we are both tired. I’m typing this one-handed while holding a baby in the other. Sounds about right for a Mother’s Day when one child thinks he’s supposed to sing me Happy Birthday, and the other still needs his ass wiped. (Oh wait, they both do!)
Mother’s Day is a holiday that changes meaning from year to year. This year, even when granted intermission from the exhausting duties of motherhood, I opted to spend the morning at the circus. (I did get a luxurious hour to myself in the afternoon.) This year, I haven’t yet been able to reach my own mother. I envision her peacefully sipping a perfect cup of coffee and doing exactly what she wants to be doing. With each passing Mother’s Day as a mom myself, I gain new respect for her. She surely earned many peaceful Mother’s Days and even still continuously opts to jump in the circus with me.
There was really only one real wish on my list for today anyway. It was to have my photo taken with my kids. Not a photo OF my kids, but a photo WITH my kids. In it, I do not look like I belong in a circus. I am wearing make up. I look serene. I actually look the way my heart feels much of the time: perfectly content.
To everyone on Mother’s Day, whatever it means to you this year, I hope it is treating you well.