It doesn’t seem like very long ago that I celebrated my first Mother’s Day as a mom. My husband, baby and I went to church, where Father made something of a fuss over mothers. There were roses given to the oldest mother, the one with the most children, mothers of multiples, and every other category Father could imagine. I waited, hopeful, that I, with my six-week-old treasure, might be the newest mother, but lost out to a woman with her two-week-old. I was only a titch disappointed.
I had, after all, just joined this wonderful “club” of sorts. I was special. I was a mother, and on this particular day, I was going to be treated like the wonderful, amazing woman that I was.
Well, things didn’t go quite as I envisioned. Brunch at a nice restaurant was interrupted by my wonderful baby urping all over my dress. And he still pooped five or six times that day, and woke up five or six times that night.
I began to wonder what all the “Mother’s Day” hoopla was about.
I think many new moms probably have similar experiences, expecting and hoping to be treated as Queen-for-the-Day. After all, we do deserve it. I mean, there’s the whole birth thing (which is a tremendously amazing task), then we endure the postpartum period, that for many is marked by uncontrollable weeping (over nothing, mind you), sleep deprivation, engorged breasts (it may sound like fun, but it really hurts!), and feelings of love that are so strong they’re truly scary. And for a significant number of women, myself included, many of these “baby blues” symptoms continue and worsen, and we experience what experts now term “post-partum mood disorder”. For some, this condition can last several months, for me it’s been eleven years (except for the breast thing)!
So, after considering all of these wonderful, giving things I’d been doing, I found myself asking: Don’t I deserve to be Queen-for-the-Day? Shouldn’t all of us moms have a wonderful Mother’s Day?
The answer of course is Yes! We do deserve it. But the reality for most mommies is that the odds of getting the Queenie treatment are pretty slim, and letting go of that expectation is the first step to have a really great Mother’s Day.
I heard this news just before my second child was born, and I resigned myself to the idea. To be sure, my husband was extra helpful on those Sundays, and we went out for brunch or dinner, and if I was lucky, I got a good night’s sleep (the ultimate gift) because everyone else slept through the night.
They were nice Sundays, and I wasn’t exactly disappointed, but in all honesty, I think somewhere, mixed in with all those feelings of mother-child love and the fact that I wouldn’t give them up for the world, was just a tiny bit of resentment.
Until the year our third child came, and then I had the best Mother’s Day ever.
It started with having my heavily creamed coffee being brought to me (I’m so not a morning person), and after a few cups, I fixed breakfast. (There comes a stage, sometime after baby number two, when eating out becomes more of a chore than an enjoyment. With three little ones, it’s a long stage). Then, upon Daddy’s suggestion, we packed into the car to go to a nursery – a really nice one –where I was turned loose to look at everything. Being an avid gardener, this was a true gift. Dad watched the two older ones run up and down the rows of plants and baby trees, while I, with Jack tucked contentedly in his sling, browsed and imagined and shared ideas with strangers and asked for opinions. I picked out a couple of inexpensive bird houses and several lavender plants, and the kids chose (for me, of course) a lovely tin praying mantis on a stick. The entire trip was a joy; nothing got broken or spilled, no one fought with anyone else, and I was surrounded by plants and my happy family.
I was in heaven.
But the day wasn’t over. My husband – who will readily admit that little babyhood is not his favorite stage of parenting – then proceeded to watch Baby Jack while the older kids and I puttered around the yard all afternoon, digging and planting and pulling a few weeds here and there.
And when I went to bed that night, I thought, This was a perfect Mother’s Day! I held no resentments, and had no unmet expectations, because sometime in the last five years I truly lost my dream to be Queen-for-the-Day. Somewhere I realized that, at least to me, being Queen-for-the-Day was almost synonymous with being Not-a-Mom-for-a-Day. And that’s just a little too weird, since it Mother’s Day that were talking about.
Never for a minute do I wish I wasn’t a mom. Oh, to be sure, I wish I could use the bathroom for a few minutes alone, and that people might pick up their laundry and actually put it in the hamper before I get mad and yell. But I know, if it weren’t for my kids, I wouldn’t have the right to claim one May Sunday each year, and really, I wouldn’t be who I am today.
Of course, as the kids have grown, the holiday has changed a bit. They no longer seem to be able to go the whole day without bickering over something, but they will stop when I remind them, “Hey! It’s Mother’s Day, remember?” And then there’s the “When is it Kid’s Day?” question. (Isn’t every day?!) But they still shower me with gifts and school creations that I’ll treasure forever, and my husband still plans what has become our traditional trip to the nursery, where we putter around before coming home to plant my new treasures in the afternoon. My family gives me a little time to do something I really love, and, on that day, I feel free to take it without feeling guilty.
I’m already looking forward to next May, when once again the kids will hint at gifts they’re making at school, and I will find scraps from cards they’re creating at home. I anticipate the day, because I really know that to be loved as a mom is not about being put on a pedestal for the day, but being totally surrounded by those who love me. And that’s the Queen-for-the-Day treatment we moms all deserve.