It was Mother’s Day Sunday, as you may have heard.
I’ll readily admit that I’m insanely hormonal as of late. I’m entering my fifth month of my fourth pregnancy. And I know that Mother’s Day is the day that we’re supposed to think about how blessed we are, how lucky we are to be mothers, how being a mother is the most wonderful thing in the world. And that if I don’t appreciate all that–especially on Mother’s Day–I’m an ungrateful little toad.
All that is true. But as I read my Facebook friends’ updates about being feted in bed by children bearing homemade chocolate-covered strawberries–as I prepared to host 15-odd family members for brunch–I thought, you know something? What *would* constitute a “good enough” celebration of this Day of Days, or as my husband (incorrectly) called it, this “Hallmark holiday”?
A friend of mine told me that what she really wanted for Mother’s Day was to have a day in New York by herself–without her kids. Another one told me that she wanted to sleep in and have her husband take her kids somewhere–without her.
Well, sleeping in doesn’t happen with a baby who wakes up at 5:15…and wanting a Mother’s Day where the reward is to escape the children–the very people who give you “mother” status–seemed odd to me. I told my kids that all I really wanted was one day without their internecine endless spats about Kinect, basketball, Legos, etc. Well, they tried it (allegedly) and the peace lasted approximately an hour. Thanks, guys.
The thing is, no one-day tribute to motherhood is ever going to be adequate. First of all, it’s not going to be possible to devote an entire day to celebrating motherhood, because someone at some point is going to need something and only you, as the mother, are going to be able to address it. That’s the price of being indispensable. Second, the whole thing about motherhood is that it teaches you that it can’t ever possibly be summed up in one day.
The best way to illustrate what I’m talking about is to bring you back eight and a half years to my first child’s birth. I’d leaked a bit of amniotic fluid and was brought into the hospital to be induced, an all-night event during which I was extremely uncomfortable and my then-husband was delighted that there was a TV in the room so he could watch the football game he didn’t want to miss (no comment). Thankfully, the game ended in time for my personal big finish.
After giving birth for the first time, lying there on the table, I was simply stunned. I could not believe, having gone through that excruciating pain and physical agony, that THAT was how the human race had always perpetuated itself. Are you KIDDING ME?
“If any man went through even a third of what I just did, he would have made sure he got a medal of honor and a ticker tape parade,” I told my mother as she held my new son later that day in the hospital.
She looked at me, mother of four children herself, and said, “That’s how it is.”
That’s how it is.
A twenty-one gun salute, a ticker tape parade, rose petals being rained down from the sky? Not that anyone’s offering, but the truth of the matter is that any one of those would be inadequate. Motherhood isn’t, and can’t, be about one day. It isn’t about accolades. It isn’t about skywriting. It’s about endless nights and too-quick years. It’s about treacly sweetness and being annoyed like nothing in your life has ever annoyed you before. It’s about crap and pee and smiles and bites. It’s everything. What makes it so incredible is that it is life, in a nutshell.
On the morning of Mother’s Day this year, my phone rang at 6:15 am. It was my sister, telling me she’d had a baby boy an hour or so before. Another life had erupted into this world and into my extended family. And another adventure would begin, full of frustrations, possibilities, monotony, and wonder.
Now THAT seemed like an appropriate celebration.