Ugh, I hate Mother’s Day. And for so many reasons. First, it’s a reminder that I have kids. Boo! As a kid, I always hated Mother’s Day because I had to get my mom a present. A present?! Really? Of course, I love my mom and I completely understand that my brothers and I drove her absolutely crazy as kids, so we owe her something, but we have to buy her something? And it has to be from Hallmark? You think my mom wanted a card? Or chocolate? Or flowers? Or a stupid scarf? Probably not. She probably just wanted to be left the f#@$ alone for an hour or two. We were not easy children. Even Anna Jarvis, the founder of the first Mother’s Day in 1908, came to regret her advocacy for mothers as she witnessed the resulting, unintended consumerism. As a mother, I feel like a college athlete being exploited by the NCAA.
And there are other reasons to be anti-Mother’s Day. Why are we revering mothers above all other people? Why is my life more valuable than anyone else’s just because we had a few birth control slip-ups? What about my friends who struggle with infertility? Are they then amoral? Or less self-sacrificing? No! In fact, they have tighter abs and tighter you-know-whats. Good for them. Or my friends who have chosen not to have kids. Perhaps because they’re “selfishly” pursuing a career. Perhaps they’re unselfishly considering overpopulation and the world’s limited resources. Perhaps these friends are so respectful of the parenting role that they’re carefully weighing their readiness and suitability for it — some people already know they’d make psychotic parents and want to responsibly spare their children that accompanying angst. Others know they carry genes for undesirable conditions or disorders, like shortness, and want to save their non-existent Napoleons. Or what about my friends who want to have kids, but haven’t found a suitable partner yet? Why should they not be allowed to celebrate today just because they have higher standards than I did in selecting a mate? I just went for above average height, an adequate sense of humor, and someone who respects Ray Lewis.
I’m a mother. I was narcissistic enough to believe the world needed more ME, so why celebrate me today? Hmm, sounds fishy… Which reminds me, I need to take the salmon out of the freezer for dinner tonight.
And don’t get me wrong: I don’t want to take away from the precious experiences of other mothers — mothering is incredibly exhausting and self-sacrificing and confusing. First, I had to be pregnant, meaning I had to get fat. That means that I had to simultaneously eat loads of ice cream but also eat healthy — for the baby. I was too uncomfortable to sit still for months at a time, but I was also too tired to be moving around. And then there’s the birth. And the breastfeeding. And the postpartum stuff. And the worry. And the messes: poop, vomit, Pop-Tart residue, Crayola markers, etc. And the costs: diapers, health insurance, Benadryl, Motrin, Tylenol, fruit snacks, more milk, more cereal, more fruit, more bread, etc. And I have to share with them? Yuck. Not having to share is supposed to be one of the great benefits of adulthood.
And speaking of sharing, try explaining the concept of Mother’s Day to a three year-old. He barely understands why we have to put socks on before shoes. How’s he going to understand a made-up holiday where you have to be nice to someone other than him? Let alone someone he’s usually rather abusive toward.
So, even though it’s Mother’s Day, we were still woken well before 7AM to Nate knocking on our bedroom door. Not sure why he’s knocking — usually we wake to him sprinting down the hallway and kicking open our bedroom door like he’s rescuing us from a burning building. Or avenging some great injustice — Jack Bauer-style. He might have been angry that I moved ninety percent of his toys to the basement the day before. Or that I stopped buying fruit snacks. Or that I insist that he wash his hands after peeing each time. Maybe now that he’s three — as he tells everyone we meet — he’s suddenly more worldly and is fearful of seeing something in our bedchamber that he can’t un-see, if you know what I mean, so he knocks now. Anyway, this morning, he was fully dressed in a Chiefs football uniform — helmet and all — and he proceeded to stand next to the bed to give us what he believed to be a really encouraging and animated pre-game pep talk. I’d give you a transcript of this speech, because I’m sure it was absurdly funny, but thankfully, I dozed through most of it. He did not take our desperate “shut up!’s” as an indication to shut up and get the hell out of our room. He never does. It was so inspiring, though, that I got out of bed, got dressed, went downstairs, made breakfast, and started some laundry, begging him to “shut up” the whole time. Happy Mother’s Day indeed.
And, in reality, I love being a mother. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t complain about it so publicly. Instead, I would stew silently, fearful that the authorities would find out I hate my kids. Motherhood is joyful to me. It is fulfilling. And I am grateful for my two little assholes because they’re both blessings, and I can still physically overpower both of them. But that doesn’t make me better than anyone else. And it doesn’t make me want presents — from Hallmark or otherwise. I certainly don’t want Nate’s crappy artwork all over the house. It’s in my way, it keeps falling off the refrigerator each time we open it or have the audacity to walk by too quickly… and it sucks. It’s just crappy art. If you don’t have the dexterity and fine motor skills to color inside the lines, then don’t waste my time. And at least share your markers and crayons and colored pencils, so that I can show you how to “art.” I was inside the lines by age 4. I could even make a capital R.
And it’s not because I don’t get real Mother’s Day gifts that I dislike this false holiday — I’m not ungrateful or bitter or self-pitying. I know that if I asked, my husband would surely give me a few hours off; he’s spent enough time around these assholes — God love ‘em — to know that breaks from them are crucial to everyone’s survival and sanity. And I know that if I asked for something tangible for Mother’s day — something affordable and feasible — I’d surely get it, but apparently boarding school is “unreasonable.” As is not smearing one’s breakfast on the walls. And letting me watch “Meet The Press” in silence. Me: “Did Carly Fiorina really just call him ‘Chodd?’” Husband: “No idea, couldn’t hear above the screeching.”
I love my kids and I love to celebrate, but motherhood is more about winning battles. It’s about endurance. It’s about cleaning. And disciplining…kids. And explaining tampons. And recovering the coasters out from under the coffee table. And not over-indulging — because as soon as you have too much wine or beer or chocolate or you accept their sweet little kisses and hugs too readily, you let down your guard. They’ll turn on you. They’ll take full-advantage. They’re deceptive, those little guys.
So, today, May 10, let’s celebrate life and love and springtime. And, by the way, springtime in the middle of the country means tornados. So, please pray.