Monday, May 11, 2009

Mothers' Day

Do you know about me and Mothers' Day? If you remember me and Valentine's Day, you've about got it. My feelings are similar. I find Mothers' Day to be very meh. Yes, that's a word. I insist it's a word.

Anyway, several years ago while standing in the checkout line with a monstrous stress headache paying over $30 for a veritable pile of Mothers' Day cards, half of which I had to select carefully so as to not outright lie to the person opening the card, I realized Mothers' Day was the dumbest thing ever. The day had become one of obligation, stress, obligation, guilt, headaches and more obligation. Every generation of mothers in our families seemed to have a different idea of how Mothers' Day should be celebrated. And no one really knew whose wishes should take precedence but everyone wanted their own to be the ones. They should call it Guilt and Power Struggle Day. As the lowly Third Generation Mother, I was usually left to do whatever decision had been reached as a result of the Second Generation Mothers' and First Generation Mothers' battles to the death. This left The Viking very frustrated. He would ask me the entire week before Mothers' Day, "What do you want to do on Sunday," and I would just laugh sardonically and say, "You know we'll be doing whatever our Grandmothers want to do!" I never got to do what I wanted and The Viking never got to give me the Mothers' Day he wanted. And whatever it was we did, it never satisfied anyone. Both Mothers and Grandmothers wanted us with them on Mothers' Day. But they live at least 2 hours from each other so that was impossible. No matter what we did, we were giving someone the ammunition with which to plug us full of leaden guilt. What a terrible Holiday.

And, of course, there were several Mothers' Days that were wracked with all kinds of emotional pain. The first Mothers' Day after you lose a child is absolutely horrific. The sixth Mothers' Day since you started struggling with infertility is a nightmare. You go to church and all the other Moms have their flowers and bonnets and pins and corsages on and they look so happy with all their living children in tow. Everyone everywhere is wishing women a Happy Mothers' Day. That's all you hear in the air, "Happy Mothers' Day to you!" "Thank you! And Happy Mothers' Day to you, too!" The service is Mothers' Day-themed. The sermon is about Mothers. And at some point, the Pastor asks all the Mothers to stand for applause. Some Pastors want to know the oldest Mother in the room, then the youngest, then the Mother with the most children. And they usually get a flower handed to them in front of everyone. And if you've just buried a child, or miscarried a child, or have been trying desperately to have a child with no success, it's excruciatingly painful. I haven't been to church on Mothers' Day since 1999. One year, my cousin's infant son's funeral was on Mothers' Day in the afternoon. That was a Mothers' Day for the books.

Thankfully, several years ago (somewhere midst all the painful MDs due to the losses of children), my Mom and I conspired together to do away with Mothers' Day. We both confessed we hated it and found it to be so very stupid. It was such a liberating moment! And ever since, MD has been much more palatable.

Now, don't get me wrong...I love homemade cards from my kids and half-cooked or burnt breakfasts in bed. I love that the kids want to spend a day doing things for me. I love that The Viking wants to pamper me on Mothers' Day. But I don't expect a single thing. Anything they do is fine by me. And they usually do a great job and I am always pleasantly surprised.

Yesterday, I slept in because Redheaded Snippet had field hockey from 10-1 and The Viking offered to take her because it was Mothers' Day. Of course, Man-Cub woke me up asking if I could come downstairs and make him breakfast, but it turned out to be a ruse to get me to come downstairs so he could make me some cinnamon toast! When I came downstairs I found that entire level of the house sparkling clean! Things had been dusted, swept, vacuumed, everything! My favorite tablecloth was on the dining room table with a white pitcher full of fresh-cut flowers from the yard in the center. On the kitchen island was a note propped up in front of my favorite teapot covered with the wool cozy Lobelia made me. The note said,

"Happy Stinkin' Mothers' Day! Haha, I hope today is a day of rest and relaxation for you! I don't know if you can notice (because the downstairs was mostly clean from last night [we had had company]) but I tried to clean/wipe/scour everything downstairs! I hope you enjoy everything! I love you! P.S. There's bread pudding being kept warm in the oven and tea on the island."

A peek in the oven indeed revealed a warm, fresh batch of bread pudding and the tea in the cozied teapot was still warm! It was wonderful! I savored my toast, pudding and tea and then Man-Cub extended a most generous invitation to play Lego Indiana Jones with him. He knows I love this game but he doesn't usually like to play with me because I like to actually play while he likes to just run around and punch people apart.

After The Viking and Redheaded Snippet got back (they had had a bit of a tournament and her team had won--YAY) we got cleaned up, made a few Mothers' Day calls and then headed out to one of my favorite towns which is home to one of my favorite shops, The English Gardener. I know I've mentioned this place before. The store is smaller than my bedroom and packed to the gills with delightful imports from The UK. I get my decaf Typhoo tea there and usually pick up a treat for the kids before I leave. Well, The Viking was determined that I should have something from the store but I wouldn't let him get me the beautiful but $40 red teapot I've been craving for years. I settled instead on a fresh pack of Typhoo and a lovely little book entitled Celtic Tea With Friends.

I've flipped through most of it already and I'm really enjoying it! I plan to pore through it slowly and carefully with a hot, strong cuppa (of course) after the children are in bed at night. I finally have a recipe for Scotch Eggs, Hurrah!

After ransacking that tiny shop (the happy shopkeeper gave me a free small bar of lavender soap--I'm sure as an incentive to just leave), we walked through town enjoying the sights, smells and sunshine. We wandered into Her Sport for some navy blue knee socks and pre-wrap Redheaded Snippet needed for her field hockey regional tournament next week. She drooled over the sticks and other gear they had but we managed to get out of there after spending only $10!

We went to dinner at a Chinese Restaurant The Viking and I used to go to all the time when we used to live in an apartment near there. We had some fun reminiscing and enjoyed some good food (even if I did have to eat what I'm afraid were fish eggs for the first time in my life--I put on a brave face because Man-Cub had ordered the same thing and he was gauging my reaction very carefully).

After dinner, we decided to answer the call of duty and met my parents at EGOD's with key lime pie and Mothers' Day cards in hand. It was quick and painless and really made EGOD's day. Of course, there was the usual scrambling to keep the kids from eating anything except what we brought (I saw Rolaids sitting, unwrapped, in her candy dishes), and she did say something about her shirt exposing her breasts, but other than that, it was uneventful.

So, as Mothers' Days go, it wasn't bad. In fact, it was rather enjoyable, right down to the very end when The Viking packed Man-Cub's lunch for me and gave me a foot rub. Almost makes me not hate Mothers' Day!

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