Ah, Mother’s Day. As my friend Amanda observed, it’s a loaded holiday, isn’t it? I’m sure I’ve written before about my tenuous relationship with the day. When I was a younger mum, I was so often guilty of using it like a report card, and the trouble with that was that it almost never went well. My kids were little, and really weren’t big enough to avoid the things that set me off about the whole shebang. All I wanted from that day was for things to be “nice”. Big problem. Motherhood isn’t.
Motherhood is messy, and complicated, and frequently loud, and full of amazing things interspersed with horrible, terrifying things, like sick children, and choking hazards, and broken hearts, and wishes for strange haircuts and tattoos. (I think I’m running several decades together there.) Sure, there are hugs and kisses and stories, and moments that are beyond sweet, and breathtakingly beautiful, but the hallmark of motherhood isn’t those moments where sunshine is streaming through a window, while you and a throng of sweet, charming children make dinner from scratch while discussing the stuff that will shape them as people. It’s more like doing laundry at 3am because someone just puked on the last clean set of sheets, while you wonder how the hell you’re getting through tomorrow because there’s that *&^^$ing soccer thing and despite trying to avoid it, it’s your turn to bring the cut up oranges that you haven’t bought yet – even though you have a work deadline and the budget is totally screwed this month because another one of the kids outgrew their shoes, while you wonder how many cups of coffee it’s going to take and if this is the week you cry at the grocery store. (That’s an actual flashback, right there.)
I’m not saying motherhood isn’t wonderful. It is. I’m not saying it doesn’t have moments that are totally worth it. It does. I’m not even saying that the whole thing is s deadly slog, that only the bravest of people should entertain. (But it is.) I’m saying that mostly, being a really, really good mum is a metric tonne of work, and that expecting that one day a year, all of that will be suspended so that you can have an amazing Sunday full of just the good parts of parenting, with wave upon wave of gratitude sent your way by all the people you’re working to keep alive is totally batsh*t insane, and it took me just about twenty years of mothering to learn it.
It’s just a day, and if it doesn’t go well, and if at 8:30am there’s a huge fight in the kitchen because they’re trying to make you breakfast in bed and someone stirred the batter for pancakes (even though that’s their favourite, not yours) when it wasn’t their turn, and someone else spilled syrup (and all you can think about is that you’re going to have to wash the floor eight times to make it not sticky anymore) and someone else is now yelling “I hate you, YOU DON’T KNOW MY LIFE” because you’ve made the wholly unreasonable suggestion that they spend the morning with you instead of their boyfriend, because he’s not a stinking mother… (whoops. Flashback again.) Then this does not mean One. Little. Thing. about being a parent, or how good you are at it, or if they value you as a mother.
They do. They’re just kids, and kids (rather ironically) are the whole problem with Mother’s Day. They’re too young. They can’t set aside who they are for the sake of showing you how much they care, not unless about 87 things go right, and well… the odds of that aren’t amazing. Lower standards are your friend here. Mother’s day, that’s for Mums who’ve got it mostly licked. Mum’s who have kids who are… well. Adults. That’s who’s good at Mothers Day. These ladies, for example, knocked it out of the park this year – although there was almost a small fight about who would clean up. (They’re adults, but still sisters. The risk remains.)
This Mother’s day, we all turned up at Ken’s. He and the girls made an amazing dinner for me, my mum, my sister, my mother-in-law and my sister in law, and they did a fabulous job. There was laughing, and food, and champagne (and I think Luis bit his mother, but only once) and it was lovely. It was also my 25th Mothers Day. After dinner, when Joe proposed a toast, we all lifted our glasses, and he said “To all the Mum’s – thank you for giving us life” and we toasted our mums, and I remarked “Giving you life was the easy part” and Katie held her glass aloft and said “You should really be thanking us for not taking it back again.”
Word. Happy Belated Mother’s Day. I hope it was… what it is. A Mother thing.