Mother's day anyone?

My mom and I circa 1971.

My mom and I circa 1971.

Both Mother's day and my birthday make me a little antsy. As much as I like to think of myself as outgoing and the life of the party, the real truth is I'm not so comfortable being the center of attention. And, without casting blame on any undeserving parties, sometimes the supposed "special-ness" of those days just doesn't match up to the Pinterest-y, golden lit blog entry that stubbornly resides in my head. Let's imagine that perfect day, shall we?

I sleep till nine, when I'm awoken by the sunlight gently seeping through the blinds AND the merry laughter of my husband and kids in the kitchen. I walk into the dining room (because I really don't like to eat in bed) to find cheesy omelettes stuffed with veggies, an icy Diet Coke, and fresh flowers on the table. The whole family gathers for breakfast, where we talk about the day, our hopes and dreams, and have a deep and meaningful discussion of current affairs. After breakfast, I get ready for church -- dressing in a brand new (size 4) super cute, hip outfit. Later, there's a delicious Sunday nap waiting for me, followed by a simple, rustic meal outside where I'm showered with thoughtful (and design-oriented) gifts. A new car would make the day extra special. We'd all then walk the dog through the trails by the water, arriving home tired and happy just as the sun goes down. The kids scurry off to bed while Sterling and I relax and watch The Good Wife or Call the Midwife of Netflix'd episodes of The West Wing. As we watch, Sterling deftly moves about the living room and kitchen, tidying the rooms, turning on lamps, lighting an aromatic candle.

That was kind of fun. You should try it.

Let me just start the debunking with the fact that I haven't worn a size 4 since about ninth grade. A few days ago I brought up the new car dream. The suggestion was received as a moment of hilarity. That's not happening either. We have church at nine, which leaves little time for leisurely breakfasts and even less time for discussions of global affairs. I'm the only person in our family who knows how to turn on a lamp or light a candle. Yep, I'm gifted like that.

2002

2002

The trick to enjoying Mother's day, in my experience, is to cut everyone some slack. Including yourself. It's not really about my family making me feel good about myself -- that's a Hallmark imperative. I choose, instead, to think it's about me appreciating the institution of motherhood. On Sunday, I'll give some thought to my own mother and the other women in my life who have taught me about self-sacrifice, kindness, strength, ambition, service, determination, and a whole host of other steel-y attributes that have helped me to understand the divine nature of women. I'll probably look through old photo albums, my heart breaking just a little as I remember my own tiny babies -- the jumbled collection of experiences that made me a mother. The day, for me, is about celebrating my own moments of happiness within motherhood. And there have been plenty of those.

In my old age, I've realized there is something so freeing about creating my own happiness (even on Mother's day). There is no waiting around for someone else to fulfill unnamed, yet dearly held, expectations. There is no disappointment or sadness. Because in that space where I take responsibility for myself I can be generous with those I love. I can overlook 17 pairs of socks on the living room floor and 23 half-filled glasses on the kitchen counters. 

But there better be sugar. And I'm not doing the dishes.


Mother's day always brings out the essayist. See here, here, and here.