I’ve been thinking a lot about Mother’s Day, now that it’s come and gone.
I am just as selfish as the next overworked mom, and so secretly want to be fawned over on the two days in the entire year that are supposed to be about ‘me’ – aka my birthday and Mother’s Day – but my deeply-rooted built-in Midwestern martyrdom prevents me from asking for such. Traditionally I then feel let down and disappointed when my fantasies of flowers and massages don’t come true. Because of this, aside from the cards my kids made for me, Mother’s Day played out pretty much like any other normal day.
My kids are well-trained to let me sleep in on the weekends, so when I actually woke on Mother’s Day they had no way of knowing. I lay there staring at the ceiling while Paul snored next to me, but I quickly realized I was on my own in terms of breakfast, and it wasn’t going to be happening in bed. Because I personally hadn’t gone shopping for anything special to eat – no french toast ingredients, no prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, no mimosas – I had the usual weekend breakfast of an egg and toast.
While I was eating, the kids paused the movie they were watching which placates them during my aforementioned sleeping in, and gave me the cards they’d made. Then, they went back to their movie.
When Paul woke up he apologized for not being better prepared in the way of ‘special treatment’, then told me that the day was mine to dictate and we could do whatever I wanted to do: I could go back to bed, we could acquire the essential mimosas and relax in the back yard, whatever I wanted. What did I want to do?
I wanted to not have to make a plan. Yes, I wanted to be lazy, but if I’m lazy then the kids are lazy, and I didn’t want them to spend the day in front of the TV or fighting out of boredom. I knew if I chose relaxation and laziness the day would be like too many before it where I end up frustrated with everyone in my house as I pick up dishes and peel the kids away from their screens to force them into the backyard. I felt like at the very least on Mother’s Day I should try to be a Good Mother.
I said I’d like to go to an underground Mexican restaurant I’d heard about. It was about as far away from linen tablecloths, mimosas and fresh berry compote as a Mother could find herself, but it was delicious.
I then decided it was time to buy the kids some running shoes. I’ve been using the excuse of ‘I can’t work out because I can’t leave the kids’ for far too long. I’d decided weeks ago that the solution was to get them some proper shoes so that we can jog together. I thought a nice walk/jog with the dog around Spring Lake sounded like a pleasant, good-mothering activity.
I hate shopping. But in we went, to the terrible lighting and the depressed pallor of the other shoppers. We found the kids some shoes, then remembered that we needed a plain white t-shirt for my son. Oh and the kids need flip-flops. Oh and…oh and….
By the time we left the store I was exhausted. I drove us home and, noticing my lethargy, the kids suggested I take a nap, “for Mother’s Day.” Instead I suggested we all have some reading time, and so we all went to our respective corners to read our respective books. Soon, though, the nagging came back; I’m reading alone and my kids are reading alone and I should really be interacting with my kids and doing motherly things with them. It’s Mother’s Day. I have to be a good mother.
I called everyone together and downsized our Spring Lake jog to a Creek Trail jog. Our home is a block away from a lovely trail, and so we walked over and I talked to the kids about the importance of finding and keeping an easy pace when jogging. It’s not a race; it’s not about winning or going faster than anyone else. It’s about pacing yourself.
As the dog is a pain in the ass to run with, I quickly handed her off to Paul, and he spent the remainder of our outing somehow managing to walk the weaving dog while also keeping his face glued to his phone. At the first intersection we came to, he announced that he had something to take care of, so he and the dog went their own way and the kids and I turned around and jogged back home. It wasn’t much, but it was something.
I don’t remember what we did for the rest of the day. I made dinner; I did dishes; I did laundry. The usual things. I saw an oozing amount of pictures, posts, proclamations and exclamations about how other mothers spent their day. I worried about whether my kids will look back on this time and think I’d been a good mother. Is the amount of sparkle and pamper one receives on a day reserved specifically for them a direct result of how well they’re doing at their role in life?
These thoughts make me panic, I’ll admit. I feel a shortness of breath and am seized with worry that I’m not doing it right, doing a good enough job, making the impact I’m supposed to, and desperately want to but so often find myself clouded with a self-doubt I never experienced in my earlier mothering days.
Then I remember: it’s not about doing better than anyone else. It’s not about coming out first. It’s about pacing yourself.
And I can do that.