I hate Mother’s Day.
Don’t get me wrong; I love the idea of celebrating all that we moms do for our families. I’m glad that on one day each year, children are urged to consider their mothers’ value, and husbands must acknowledge our role in the household machine.
I love flowers and chocolate and the notion that I can take one out of every 365 days off.
I adore my kids’ homemade cards and, when they were younger, teacher-driven art projects. I absolutely treasure my four ladybug paperweights (rocks painted red and black), four beautiful “What My Mother Means to Me” poems paired with watercolor irises, four sunflower pins, four Native American pinch bowls and ceramic kimonos.
I’m glad for the reminder to reach out to my own mother. But also, I’m reminded that I could be a better daughter. I should call more often. I should visit more than once or twice a year. I should try to improve my kids’ connections with her…
Every year, as the big day approaches, my emotions mount. I tear up during Johnson & Johnson commercials, feel overwhelmed in the Walgreen’s cards section (should I go funny or thoughtful this year?) and start to feel regret for my failures as a daughter and a mother.
I hate the pressure that Mother’s Day carries. If we moms only get one day in the sun, it had better be spectacular, right?
I try to envision the warm feeling I will experience on Sunday morning, as my adoring husband and perfectly behaved four children, two large dogs and ginger tabby gather around.
And then, I remember.
Breakfast in bed is always a disaster. I am an early riser, and like to set the household wheels in motion while my energy surges. Laundry, email and writing or editing projects need attention. The sink brims with evidence of the boys’ late-night snacks: cups caked with fruit-smoothie residue, bowls with drying chunks of salsa and knives smeared with peanut butter. The dishwasher must be emptied. The garbage stinks of last night’s salmon dinner.
The dogs are hungry and nudge me for a walk. The cat wants fresh food and water.
The New York Times Style section awaits.
However, if tradition holds, my daughter will saunter into the kitchen when she hears the silverware clanging, and order me back in bed. She will rouse my husband, and, from my bedroom above the kitchen, I will listen to 30 minutes of mayhem as they prepare my “breakfast in bed.”
Of course, I love the thought behind this breakfast, and it is always delivered with love. But in that half-hour confined to my bed, I can’t help considering all the chores left undone, and the mess that awaits below.
Perhaps worst of all, I can’t keep my expectations in check.
I expect my husband to deliver the perfect gift. He is incredibly thoughtful and generous, and I know he would get me anything I wanted. And yet, I believe that if he loves me enough, he should inherently know what I want. He should have been paying attention to my hints. He should be able to put the right words into a card. Right?
I expect the kids to be kind to me, and to each other, all day long. When they were younger, I would often yell, on that most glorious of all Sundays, “Can’t we all just get along?” (Rodney King, RIP.)
With that kind of pressure, who wouldn’t crack?
Yes, dear readers, I fully acknowledge that this is my problem. I should look at the glass half-full. I should appreciate every gesture from my husband and kids. I should value their efforts and know they love me, despite the messes, the fussing and the fighting.
I am working on it.
And so, this year, I chose to give everyone a break on Mother’s Day.
I heard the mountains calling, and decided to grab the dogs and get out of Dodge.
My sweet daughter (who has yet to roll her eyes at me, although I know that day will come soon), asked if she could come along. “I really don’t want to spend Mother’s Day without you,” she pleaded.
I knew the others would be fine. The oldest has work, the second has sports and parties and the third has homework, friends and “car stuff” to occupy them this weekend. My husband can catch up on work emails, watch Mariner’s games and celebrate the holiday with his parents and siblings later on.
I knew that removing myself from the mix would ease the pressure on the men in my life. More importantly, heading for the hills would lower my own expectations for the day.
Right now, on a quiet, calm, Mother’s Day morning, the rain drips steadily from the eves outside my window. Fog lifts slowly from the evergreens. The dogs rest lazily at my feet. I hear the rhythmic breathing of my sleeping 13-year-old. I am savoring a cup of decaf, and will soon enjoy a bowl of yogurt and fruit.
I have no great plans for the day, other than to walk the dogs through the woods, catch up on a few episodes of “Downton Abbey” and dig into the latest book-club selection.
Happy Mother’s Day to all who are, or have, cherished moms. It’s your day, so live it your way.
– Linda Williams Rorem, Mother’s Day, 2013