Pulling out his phone, my husband casually mentioned the other day, “I’m going to put ‘Mother’s Day prep’ on my calendar, so I have enough time to get ready.”
I found myself responding, in a somewhat menacing voice that I barely recognized as my own: “YOU DO THAT, BUDDY!”
I said it despite knowing, deep down, that all the time in the world will not be enough to prepare for Mother’s Day this year.
Allow me to explain. Under normal, non-pandemic circumstances, I see myself as being sort of chill when it comes to Mother’s Day observance. After all, it’s a Hallmark holiday, blah blah blah. I’m usually a “whatever, no big deal, anything is great” kind of Mother’s Day mama who is perfectly content with my annual frames made of popsicle sticks, a thoughtful stick figure drawing or two, and a precariously balanced cup of coffee brought up to me in bed (even though I would really rather just drink it on the couch in the living room, ideally with the New York Times, a blanket, and sweet, sweet silence).
In regular times, I’m not the kind of mom who insists on an upscale restaurant brunch, or a fancily-wrapped gift, or a spa getaway. Instead, since I’m pretty much traumatized by just the idea of my family being dramatically thrown out of any given restaurant — not an unrealistic fear, btw — I’m the mom who invites the extended family over to brunch for Mother’s Day. So that’s usually my mom and dad, my siblings and their spouses — four moms in total — and I happily trade “my” day for “our” day. We have lox and bagels, and I jettison the orange juice component of the mimosas, because, honestly, let’s just cut out the middleman. Everyone lingers. We go for walks, play outside, ride bikes. It’s all good.
But this not-normal year, my friends? This year, after almost — because it ain’t over till it’s over, folks — getting through a pandemic with six kids in the house? (I like saying “six kids in the house,” as though I just found them lying around, like my old library card or that missing green marker, rather than having pushed each one of them out of my body through my vagina.) This year, I’ll own it: This year, I’m demanding full Beyonce, concierge, club-level services. This year, I’m sending the message to my family, loud and clear: You all need to go big, or go home (ideally someone else’s home, thankyouverymuch). My expectations are tremendous, unrealistic, and inevitably insurmountable. Sounds super fun!
With Mother’s Day fast approaching, I’m seeing a side of myself I’ve never seen before. (And, tbh, I’m more than a little scared of me — and maybe you should be, too.) I am apparently embracing the imminent arrival of Mother’s Day by becoming the Bridezilla I never was (either wedding, actually — talk about missed opportunities!). The expression “reclaiming my time” leaps to mind. I want this day to somehow reclaim all those endless, hours I spent over the past year doing things, including but not limited to: making the infinite lunches these kids don’t like/liked yesterday but now despise; logging onto the class Google Meets; fixing the WiFi; refereeing inter-sibling disputes; looking for “missing” crap that apparently only I am capable of finding (spoiler: untrue!); and generally attempting to entertain my children like a deranged monkey with cymbals. This year, I’m making a gift list that looks like I’m sending it to the North Pole, and won’t deny that I have taken the liberty of already ordering a few items myself — you know, just to make sure they get here on time. Again, I don’t really recognize this side of myself, but I’ve gotta be honest: I also have no f*cks left. The f*cks have left the building.
Look, I am a very fortunate woman: I love my home and, as we approach the end of this pandemic (again, fingers crossed!), I even still love my husband and children. But honestly? HONESTLY? Stick a fork in me, because I am DONE.
Let’s say, hypothetically, you love chocolate. And you’re right to love chocolate, because chocolate is delicious. Plus, there are so many delightful permutations of chocolate, from hot fudge drizzled tantalizingly on some salty-and-sweet ice cream confection, to a perfect slice of flourless chocolate cake, to a tiny dark chocolate truffle, to… OK, let’s move on as I stop myself from drooling on the keyboard. The point is, let’s say you were invited to the world’s preeminent chocolatier, and you were allowed to go full-on Augustus Gloop and eat as much as your greedy little heart desired. Sure, initially, it would be an amazingly decadent, delicious experience. But after a while — and how long your “while” is could certainly vary — you’d start thinking something along the lines of, “Maybe I could use a little break from chocolate?”
I think you see where I’m going with this. My beloved children, you are my chocolate. I love you irrevocably and interminably. But, that being said, after a year-plus of Covid-19 precautions and all the attendant stresses, frustrations, and fears, maybe we need… a palate cleanser, if you will. Ideally, a palate cleanser that I don’t have to be the one to prepare.
I would also say this: Moms (yes, and dads, too, dammit, but we are talking about Mother’s Day here, so please just leave me alone on this point), you’ve freaking earned this Mother’s Day. This year has been full of everything from abject terror to endless stupid frustrations. Your kids have picked their noses front and center in your work Zooms (oh, just me then?). People still miss the garbage can in the bathroom (HOW HARD IS IT, PEOPLE??). Perhaps your ears are literally ringing from the constant talking, arguments, infighting, and “Game of Thrones”-like strategic machinations happening on the daily (though this last one may just be in homes with multiple kids). Our families have been cooped up with each other so much. And you, Moms, if you’re reading this, it’s because you’ve been the rock and the redeemer for your respective families. In short, you ROCK.
We’ve been through a pandemic, with all its stress, frustrations, fears, and horrors. This past year has been incredibly intense — so why can’t Mother’s Day be full-throttle too? Have we not earned that much?? So this year, for Mother’s Day, join me in proclaiming that Whatever Mom Wants, Mom Gets. Period. This isn’t just about material stuff. This is about a deliberate and formal and big ritual celebration that is both recognition and appreciation. This past year was A LOT. So Mother’s Day should be, too.
In my case, my darling husband, that recognition and appreciation includes my requests for “margarita and prosecco dispenser in the kitchen,” “lazy river around the house” and “day (of my choice) of silence.” And if I want the ghost of hot “Sound of Music”-era Christopher Plummer to sing “Edelweiss” to me on my front hall staircase? Well, then you better start looking into how you’re going to summon him from the dead. You know the expression “You want a medal, or a monument?” I’ll take both, thanks. Happy Mother’s Day!
Header image by Malte Mueller/Getty Images