Every year we are flooded by media about Mother’s Day from all of the retailers hoping to sell stuff to us. Radio ads urge husbands and sons to buy diamonds. Chocolates and flowers grace the most prominent areas of the grocery store, and everyone posts old photos of their mother or pictures of their own children with glowing social media boasts about love and being blessed and that sort of crap.
But under that, there is a current of disappointment. The people whose mothers have died and hurt to be reminded, the people whose mothers were just… really terrible at being a mother, and not really worthy of being honored, the people who wish they were mothers, or were ALMOST mothers, but aren’t…
…and the mothers of young children who face a day like any other – but with the added bitterness that comes from the contrast between their lives and the Mother’s Day commercials.
I am sure that some mothers out there got the Hallmark Card Mother’s Day – they got breakfast in bed and spent the day with guilt-free leisure while their usual jobs were done by others.
But I don’t know any of those mothers.
Every mother I spoke to – mothers of small children like I am – said that they had a good Mother’s Day… really… I mean, yeah, it was mostly the same as any other day, but there was something good about it.
A friend of mine got breakfast in bed. I mean, she had to buy the bacon and hashbrowns the day before, and she had to poke her husband and tell him to go make them for her, and he didn’t actually cook the hashbrowns, but she got bacon and eggs in bed and she figured that was good enough, really.
Another friend of mine had a nice barbecue at the house of a good friend of hers. And sure, her husband didn’t want to go at all and complained loudly about having to go – or maybe he didn’t go at all in the end, I don’t remember. Anyway, she went because she wanted to and she had a nice time, although she was annoyed about having to have a relationship fight in the process.
And as for me, well the baby slept until 9 am and PH dealt with Owl before that, so I got the best sleep in I have had in months, and then after the kids were in bed at night I sent PH to get me some pasta from my favourite restaurant, and some wine, and then I ate it at 9:30 pm while watching Mythbusters. So that was good.
During the day, I met up with another friend of mine (who had all three of her small children with her all day because her recently separated ex had decided to spend Mother’s Day cooking breakfast for other mothers at a Kinsman event and so was not available to help or do anything for the mother of his own kids) and we went to the beach.
The beach was nice, in a visiting-it-with-ungrateful-children sort of way. First they complained that they were cold. They refused to go near the water. They didn’t want to play in the sand. They wanted to go home and play video games.
But we, being experienced mothers, informed them that we didn’t give a tiny rat’s ass (not our actual words) how they felt, and we settled down on the sand anyway.
Fritter loved the beach. She ate sand and then when I carried her down to the water she happily splashed in the surf. She got covered in sand and thought it was fantastic.
The boys eventually warmed up to the beach. When they stopped whining about video games and claiming to be hungry despite having JUST eaten lunch, and when we put an end to their stick-based warfare, they finally started discovering crabs and sea shells and sand castles.
So our last hour there was quite peaceful, watching the kids dump sand into a puddle on a rock while Fritter followed them and tried to help, grabbing handfuls of sand in her tiny fists. We listened to the surf and smelled the sea air and looked at the mountains and enjoyed the sunshine and it was lovely.
At least until the boys started hitting each other with sticks again.
Of course, no Mother’s Day would be complete without a child asking the annual littany of “why isn’t there a BOY’S day?” to which all of the present adults must answer in chorus, “EVERY DAY is BOY’S DAY.”
I’ll give this to Owl – he accepted the point of Mother’s Day very well. When I pointed out to my friend’s son that he got breakfast made for him every day, and that he got taken care of every day, he just argued that he couldn’t do those things yet. And of course I agreed but told him that that is why it is nice if, once a year, someone does those things in return for the mother who normally has to work at caring for other people and rarely for herself.
My friend’s son looked unconvinced but Owl took my side. Lord knows the poor kid hears me complain all the time about how much work I do looking after him.
In fact, he reiterated it today on the way to school. “Mother’s Day is when you get people to take care of you, instead of taking care of other people, right? But you did take care of me yesterday.”
And I told him that yes. While he is small, I don’t really get a day off. He can’t cook me breakfast, and he still needs me to make him dinner, and put him to bed. Daddy helped with some of it, so I got a break, but not the full Mother’s Day that you see in commercials. No woman with small children that I know got that. When the kids are this age, we take what we can get, because we know that Mother’s Day or not, they still need their diapers changed, and they still need to be entertained, and they still want dinner, and they don’t really give a damn how we feel about any of that.
But I do think that in a few years Owl will bring me breakfast in bed.
And in a few years, Fritter won’t need diapers changed.
And in a few years, things will be even better.
And I think that, considering the age of my kids, and life being what it is, yesterday was a darn good day.