Dear Mother’s Day,
Thanks for coming around every year. That said, today it was really hard to welcome you with open arms.
You see, my husband has been traveling for the past eight days, and my single mothering skills this week leading up to you have been simultaneously heroic and tragic.
I spent most nights with several small people littering my bed, waking hourly to remove an elbowfrom my neck, to listen to the ramblings of a night mumbler, or to log roll sweaty bodies toward the opposite side of the mattress.
I spent too many wee hours alone in my family room watching Game of Thrones, Season 3, surely contributing to the 4-day string of nightmares about zombies, vaginas, and pooping in public.
I spent five long, but wonderful, days teaching meditation full-time at the neighborhood elementary school, returning home to empty cabinets, a sink full of breakfast dishes, and a growing stack of unopened mail.
I spent two late evenings out, one at a fundraiser in the city, and one at town meeting where I casted my vote on various issues, trying my best to listen attentively to debates while nearby town meeting members used the time to take much-needed naps, and others used the time to read magazines and pay bills.
I spent a sunny, warm, spring afternoon wandering aimlessly through town with my kids.
I spent two hours making my daughter’s favorite chowder then accidentally left its creamy, corny contents on the stovetop all night to sour. (Six days later it still sits in my fridge because I do not have the heart to flush an entire vat of chowder down the toilet. If any friends are reading, please come to my house tomorrow and help me with this gut-wrenching deed.)
I spent hours washing and folding loads of laundry.
I spent very little time breaking up fights, because by the grace of God, my children decided to love each other all week long – they must have had mercy on their PMSing, husbandless Mommy, knowing I couldn’t have handled even one melt down during balls-to-the-wall week.
But their mercy shriveled up abruptly on Saturday at 11am, when the three children living in my house decided to turn heathen. I won’t bore you with details, but my kids were so annoying and so irritable, and I was so exhausted and so spent, that the perfect storm materialized right here in my house. A rogue wave of dysfunction. “Turn around for Christ sake! Billy, can ya hear me? You’re headed right for the middle of the monster!” And down we went.
I was splayed on the mudroom floor, teeth clenched, cramming an uncooperative Converse All-Star onto an uncooperative 5 year old’s foot, when my smiling, sweet mother came to the back door to pick us all up for an outing. I offered her no smile in return, no “so happy to see you,” no warm embrace. My bloodshot eyes met hers from behind my unwashed greying bangs, and I announced my defeat: “This is the worst hour of my life.” And from there I just couldn’t turn my ship around.
By 5:00 that day, I was crying on my mother’s shoulder as she reminded me that tomorrow could only be better. Tomorrow. Tomorrow was you, Mother’s Day. Now you’re today. Coming to force me to feel grateful for homemade cards and quirky poems and burned pancakes in bed.
Oh, Mother’s Day, why did you have to come this weekend? Why? I would have so much preferred you to come another time. I hate feeling forced to be grateful. Of course there were a few savory highlights – a lingering hug from my son, a heartfelt message from my stepdaughter, a five minute nap outside on the patio – but for the most part it was just another day of scraped knees and dirty dishes layered upon a too-tired-to-think-straight-never-mind-feel-grateful-you’re-here Mom.
So. It’s 9:53 on Sunday night. And I am writing my annual Mother’s Day letter. I wish I could report a 180 to you, Mother’s Day, some sort of deeply inspired tale of perfect reconciliation, like the ones mommy bloggers conjure up for Huff Po. But what can I say? Some years, Mother’s Day, you suck. Some years, I want you to burn like my pancakes did this morning. Some years, I’m not in the mood to be honored, or to be grateful for being honored. And that’s okay. Mother’s Day, you can’t get a five-star rating every year. But I’m glad you always show up regardless. If only to give me an excuse to underperform on Father’s Day.
Your grateful (but sort of ungrateful) friend,
Wishing all of my Mommy friends peace this Mother’s Day, and know that if yours was mediocre at best, you’re not alone.