Mother’s Day is supposed to be the day when our children and their fathers show us their appreciation for all we do. Except that (sorry for repeating an old cliche) motherhood is a thankless job. My children don’t have any idea how tiring, stressful, and isolating my job is, and why should they? They’re just kids. They have no frame of reference here. I can’t really expect my children to understand my struggles and give me the true thanks and appreciation I long to hear. Every once in a while my husband does acknowledge how difficult my job is, and I know he sees my weary face at the end of the day. But there is not any reasonable gesture within the normal realm of Mother’s Day pageantry that would carry the appropriate weight and magnitude to make me feel truly appreciated.
I mean, flowers? Seriously? To start, they are a huge waste of money, especially for something that is just going to die. In fact, they are already dying the minute you receive them. And most of the time they come in a bouquet, and that requires work. You have to find a vase, trim the stems, and dump in that stupid little packet of plant food so the flowers you killed will die a little more slowly. “Here, honey. I got you this beautiful bundle of death and a small project you don’t have the time or energy for. Happy Mother’s Day.”
Oh, how ’bout brunch? Yeah, lets take two small children to a crowded restaurant where I will still be expected to breastfeed a squirming baby just inches from a hot cup off coffee and a plate of sticky pancakes, argue with my 4-year-old over eating just four more bites of flour and sugar before she can have desert, and endure the anxiety of wondering whether or not we are pissing off literally everyone around us. That sounds so relaxing!
Or maybe a gift? Yes, get me a gift I won’t use because I can barely wash my hair once a week, so forget switching out cute little handbags and putting on earrings. It will collect dust in my closet and silently remind me that I am a mere shell of my former self. Please, instead I’d love a housework tool disguised as a gift, like a new vacuum or bottle warmer. Men may complain about always getting a tie for Father’s Day, but Mother’s Day gift giving can fall into a similar rut. “Oh, thank you! I only have 5 just like this, and I really needed a 6th!” How thoughtful.
You know what I really want for Mother’s Day? Time and cooperation. I want the time and the freedom to reorganize our home that is slowly creeping away from a Pinterest board and toward an episode of Hoarders, so that I can function efficiently within it. I want to be able to start and finish a task without the looming fear of a baby that will wake at any moment. I want to be able to achieve something creative and exciting for myself, to be fulfilled by something that is solely my own.
I also want to be able to find things when I need them. I want to be able to say, “That spatula goes in this drawer,” and never again find it in a random cabinet in another room. I want to only say, “Put your shoes on,” one time for it to actually happen. Like any other good, well-meaning, but slightly disgruntled employee, I just want the barriers to doing my job well removed. At the end of the day, I just want to feel good at my job.
But does any of this mean that I don’t want to participate in the Mother’s Day tradition? Should my husband just ignore Mother’s Day altogether? Fuck no. I still want him to try. I still want to go to brunch because it’s an excuse to make myself look decent for once, and it might actually go well. Maybe the children will behave and I will actually finish my meal and my coffee while they’re still hot. Maybe afterward we’ll go frolic in a field of wildflowers and I’ll capture the perfect shot for my Instagram. It could happen. I still want my husband to buy me a gift because maybe I’ll actually get a chance to use it — like when we go to brunch. Maybe he’ll come up with something different and thoughtful that truly shows how well he knows me. It could happen. Deep down I still want the Hallmark moment, even though my brain knows how faulty the logic of it all is.
Do I feel like a total asshole for wanting my husband to take on the almost impossible task of not disappointing me on Mother’s Day? You betcha. I will stand before you and admit how hypocritical and irrational I am, but there it is. The ugly, stupid truth about Mother’s Day.