By Alma Schneider
May 8th is Mother’s Day. There’s not as much pressure for my poor husband to make it special (such as on my birthday), but there’s some pressure nonetheless. It has taken 10 years of being a mom but I have finally eased into a comfortable Mother’s Day that the whole family can enjoy. I will admit, I feel a bit entitled on Mother’s Day, but four kids can do that to a person.
When my first child was born, I was almost embarrassed that I would be “celebrated” since Mother’s Day had always been a holiday for my own mother. It made me feel silly, like I was pretending to be a grown up (even though I was practically middle-aged at the time). That first year when my baby was ten months old, my husband put me up in a hotel room with another new mom friend, and I got a full night of glorious, much needed sleep. That was all I really wanted.
As the years went by, and with every additional baby, a hotel room extravaganza was no longer acceptable since there was so much grueling work to be done. Flowers did not quite cut it either, especially when I saw my friends getting expensive bracelets. I am not a jewelry kind of gal but I did feel I should be treated like a queen. After all, wasn’t I working my fingers to the bone with kid laundry, dishes and dirty diapers?
There were a few years of Mother’s Days where I would go out by myself and get a massage or a facial. But then I would feel that it just wasn’t right to not be with my own kids (who now had little personalities and brains) on Mother’s Day. The feeling was fleeting, however, as the desire to be with them soon turned to the dread of returning to the chaos of life with young children. There was also the accompanying guilt that not wanting to be with them was, well, not very maternal. If I wasn’t maternal, maybe I didn’t deserve to be celebrated at all. I was a sham of a mother!
It was only in the last few years, when motherly confidence and wisdom finally set in, did I realize what I (and many of my friends) really wanted for the big day: We wanted and needed a break. We wanted to be appreciated. We also wanted to be with the children, but just not our children. You see, we wanted to be with the idealized children we imagined in our pre-parent lives. We wanted to be with the sweet, polite, un-booger-nosed, fresh-out-of-the-bath-smelling, silken-hair brushed children who give us hugs and kisses without us asking for them. We wanted the children who did what we asked immediately—with smiles on their faces.
We seasoned moms know this is not realistic and that’s all right. Feeling okay with not having the perfect dynamics with our kids is what makes us so perfectly maternal and deserving of a celebration on Mother’s Day.
When I asked one mom what she wanted for her big day, she summed it up for us:
“My kids take some magical drink that makes them sleep for 18 hours (at least). This drink is obviously non-harmful. I then stay in my pajamas guilt-free for most of the day while being able to occasionally gaze upon my beautiful, quiet, SLEEPING children at my leisure. Everyone is safe and happy and warm at home. I read a book whenever I want, or watch a great movie in broad daylight.”
If we cannot have those treats for Mother’s Day, however, we will happily accept that weekend away at Canyon Ranch.
Alma Schneider is a licensed Clinical Social Worker helping individuals overcome their psychological and practical obstacles to cooking and parenting on her blog and consulting business, Take Back the Kitchen. She is a native New Yorker transplanted to the suburbs with her husband, four children and loving yet stubborn Beagle Shiloh.