Mother’s Day

My first Mother’s Day was embarrassing.  I was working in DC and pregnant with my son, and all day long people asked me what my husband did for Mother’s Day.

Yeah, his sister told him that it was “bad luck” to give mother’s day presents before the baby was born, so he did nothing.

No card, no flowers, no nothing.  He was up in Massachusetts, and I’m not even sure he called me until midnight.  The next day at work, the people who’d waited all day to see my flowers delivered the day before were eager to hear what he’d done when I got home.  Answer: still nothing.  One particularly flamboyant co-worker actually snapped his fingers and said “Oh sh** honey, I’d kick his you-know-what”.  To this day I’m thankful for that momentary outburst because it kept me from crying in a combination of hormones and horror of having to admit nothing happened.

My second Mother’s Day was a hot mess.  My son, now 6 months old, couldn’t really do anything.  My mom had flown up to Massachusetts where we were living and her return flight home was at 10 am.  Saying goodbye to your mom is never fun when she’s far away, so that didn’t help, but then my husband left me alone for most of the day to go see his step-mother who raised cain that he wasn’t spending Mother’s Day with her.  When he got there, she locked herself in her room because he wasn’t staying all day and called me to leave nasty voicemail messages about what a selfish little witch I was and how she was going to get him to leave me, and, just so I knew, I was a horrible mother anyways.

Well, that was lovely.

When my husband came home to his freshly turned down sofa, I informed him that mother’s day was now banned from our household.  There would be no mention of it.  There would be no presents, because I was no longer expecting them, and I would take no phone calls from anyone, just in case.

Cute baby picture to help you forget the trauma.  Awwww!

That worked for a year.  18 month old kids don’t realize there’s anything missing.

When my son was 2, however, things changed.  When that sweet little boy came running into my arms from preschool with an invitation to a Mother’s Day Tea that he’d made with fingerpaint and glitter stickers, I tried to resist the cuteness.  When he gave me my first of many non-patterned macaroni necklaces and a “handprints on the wall” to frame, I lost it.  He showered me in kisses and told me I was “his best mommy”, which is quite an achievement, since I’m his only mommy.  But, in that moment, I realized that like most things in life, Mother’s Day isn’t about me.

That’s right: Mother’s Day is not about mothers.

Mother’s Day, while it claims on the surface to be about dear old mom, isn’t really about mom at all.  I mean, maybe it is when your children get older and you get to call and guilt them because they never call and this year’s standard-issue 1-800-Flowers bouquet was smaller than last years, but when you are first a mother, Mother’s Day is about your children.  For a few sweet and short moments in time, you are the center of your children’s universe.  You are the face they run to greet every morning,far earlier than you might like.  You are the warm body they snuggle into when nightmares haunt their slumber.  You are the keeper of the cheerios, the kisser of boo-boos, and you are the person that they adore completely with a love so pure and inspiring that they have to pick EVERY buttercup and dandelion and present it to you with a pride that literally beams from their faces.  They love you so much they work harder on drawing your face in green crayon with orange hair than they work on coloring Mickey Mouse.

Mother’s Day is a chance for your children to be proud of their mommy, and a day for them to revel in showing how much they love you in a tangible way, just the way you show them with every band-aid, cut-crust sandwich, and diaper change.  While we all like to joke that what we deserve is a day off at the spa, and we do so very much deserve that, this year, I wish for all of you to receive what I hope to keep seeing for a few more years- the joyful smile of pride that accompanies your children in to wake you up, far too early, and shove whatever glitter-and-crayon creation they’ve come up with this year into your blurry eyes.  Look past the crayon, and find that face.  While we often say that “no one will ever love you like your mom”, no one will ever love you like your small children do for this brief moment in your life, either. Try to capture that this Mother’s Day, because all moms know, life isn’t really about us anymore, anyway.

Happy Mother’s Day, readers.