Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. Today I find myself pondering what the perfect Mother’s Day would be. If I just respond, “Whatever,” to the question, “What would you like for Mother’s Day?” that is exactly what I will get. My husband Bob is great with specific instructions and big hints; spontaneous altruistic shows of affection are not his strong suit. And since my kids are still preschoolers, consider this my wish list.
I’ll start with what I don’t want: to plan dinner, prepare any sort of meal, load or unload the dishwasher, wipe down tables and counters, cook special food for kids because they won’t eat what we eat, wash or fold laundry, dust, vacuum…any form of cooking or cleaning really. I don’t want to pick up or organize toys into their rightful bins; I don’t want to put clothes back into drawers after my four-year-old Bobby has recklessly tossed them in the air. I don’t want to set foot in a grocery store or run a single errand because “I’m in the neighborhood.”
I don’t want to search for socks or shoes for four individuals, when they should be in the same place I’ve designated for the past year. I don’t want to hunt for at least three pacifiers before we go out in public, assuming my 20-month-old Devin will lose that number in a two-hour period. I don’t want to address the rude know-it-all comments from well-meaning strangers that my child is too old to have a pacifier. Back off, lady!
I don’t want to do anything responsible: apply sunscreen, wear a hat, take a vitamin, drink at least eight ounces of water, or count a single calorie. I don’t want to be prepared: Devin needs a fresh diaper? The kids want a snack? Bobby needs a change of clothes? Too bad; I left the diaper bag at home. I don’t want to complete any task remotely disgusting: changing diapers, taking out the trash, or finding the root of that funky smell in the car. I don’t want to do anything that requires money, especially paying bills, because the last time I checked, my wallet had $1.72.
I don’t want to utter the phrases, “Get off your brother,” “Leave the dog alone,” “Not in the mouth,” or “No more screaming!” at the top of my lungs. I don’t want to be the chauffer, cook, maid, or referee. In a nutshell…I want a break from my daily life of stay-at-home mom.
What I do want is quite simple: peace and quiet, to just relax for once. I want to take a walk along a nature trail so that I can be alone with my thoughts. I want to sit on the dock by the lake at sunset to take in the serenity that passes me by every day. I want to drink half a bottle of red wine and eat a delectable dinner, followed by something chocolate, of course. Most of all, I want to just “be.” No to-do lists. No mommy responsibilities. Is that so much to ask?
The next morning I am awakened at the late hour of 9:00am by sweet voices chiming, “Happy Mother’s Day,” as they carry in a bountiful feast. A tray holds a stack of pancakes decorated with strawberries in a lovely star pattern. Additional fruit and warm syrup are in their own containers, and coffee just how I like it is set next to me. Memories of all those breakfasts in bed we had with my mother on her special day come flooding back. In between gobbling down bites quickly and kids climbing over me, I smile at the start of our family’s tradition.
When I finish breakfast, Bob whisks the tray to the kitchen while I shower and get ready for church. The sound of the vacuum cleaner running in someone else’s hands is sweet music indeed. For once I take my time with my morning ritual, savoring each step that makes me feel more beautiful. I pick out a blouse in my favorite color red and a skirt, which I hardly ever wear. I’m actually feeling pretty.
At church Bob takes on the duties of caring for Devin who falls asleep for the first half of the service and fidgets the second half. I can listen to the sermon for once. The priest prays for extra patience and wisdom for all of us caring for young children; yes, we need it. After the service, Bob watches the kids while I chat with some friends. I manage to have two real conversations without being interrupted by, “No, only one cookie” and “Just a minute!”
Since it’s a very windy day, our neighbors are flying a kite when we return. How fun to watch a meadow of kids chasing a darting dragon. When the boys begin to get fussy, Bob recruits them as helpers building the new playground. I’m free to just write. He tends to feeding and changing the kids while I settle in for a mid-afternoon nap, not because I’m especially tired, but because I can.
When I awake, the electricity has gone out with the storm, along with any plans of a nature walk or sunset viewing. Bob scrambles to feed dinner to two kids who only eat warm meals. Without electricity, their choices are cheese sticks and PB&J. Oh wait--we have no bread! I resist racing in with solutions and read the paper instead. He borrows a few slices next door and takes Devin to bed early.
Tucking Bobby in, I read two of his favorite books, which he has memorized now, but it pleases me to see him following each word with his finger and “reading.” Before long, he will be reading on his own, and I’ll know my influence will have been a big part of that development. I kiss him good night and “I love you’s” are exchanged. I come down to a delicious meal prepared on the grill and a candlelight dinner with my husband. No electricity has its perks. We toast to the perfect Mother’s Day.
The next morning I am awakened at 6:45am by Devin, who is running around carrying a poopy diaper. In the process, he smears a portion on our nice clean sheets. I’m awake now! By 9:30am, I’ve run two loads of laundry (of course, the sheets); fed, changed, and clothed the kids; unloaded and loaded the dishwasher; vacuumed up bits of cereal from the couch; taken out trash; sorted recycling; and packed a picnic lunch. In a way, it’s back to the grindstone, but today I have a fresh perspective on why I’ve chosen this lifestyle.
For Mother’s Day, I thought I wanted a day off from my kids but what I really needed was a vacation from the work of childcare. Without the demands of cooking and cleaning, I was free to enjoy those magical moments with my children I easily miss. And I was able to recharge and focus on my needs as a woman. My goal now is to make every day Mother’s Day by intentionally celebrating butterflies and making time for bubble baths.