Mother's Day :: What it's really all about

 South of France circa 1970. From left to right: My mother, me, My grandmother Bettina Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

South of France circa 1970. From left to right: My mother, me, My grandmother Bettina
Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

It's 7:00 on Sunday May 8th, 2016. It is Mother's Day to be precise. So far  it has been perfection. The children are all asleep and the house is blissfully quiet. I've managed to hog the entire couch and the television and as soon as this is written I'll tune into the newest episodes of Grace & Frankie, uninterrupted, I hope. And, if I am interrupted I will simply remind them all that it is my day! 

My children wanted to buy me gifts. I didn't want them to and I never do. I love it when they get creative and make things, cards, homemade meals, clay pots, salt scrub, bath bombs. More thought and effort goes into the home-made than the purchased. And they're still young and I want them to spend what little money they have on themselves. (Though my daughter did ask me for a $30 contribution towards my gift that they didn't plan in time which will be here in time for my Birthday!) 

I have my day all planned out. In a perfect world it will look like this:

The children will remain sound asleep until I can sneak off to my 10:00 am spin class to which I will have to arrive a good 20 minutes early so I can get one of the 3 bikes in back with the window that pops open to the outside. At some point during that time I hope my children will run and empty the dishwasher. But I know that won't happen. They just might actually replace the empty toilet paper roll in their bathroom. But I'm not betting on that either. For Mother's Day they want to make me breakfast lunch and dinner. I told them I would love such, but gave them a short list of rules, no refined sugars or starches for me until my Birthday in three weeks. Naturally this didn't go over well. But I explained that Mother's Day is about celebrating your mother... in short it means doing what she wants. All day long! (They didn't love that so much either.) We came to a mutually reasonable solution and everyone seemed happy. For about five minutes. As a mother I have learned to look at the bright side of every situation. Five minutes of happiness is better than none!

I will get home from the gym and crawl back into bed and they will deliver my Greek yogurt, honey and fresh fruit. I already bought myself some white tulips the other day, so they're off the hook for that. 

It's dreary and dismal and rainy and seeing that this was in the forecast we decided not to go out today. I'm happy to have them each making me a meal. I much prefer that, in fact. And at some point we'll all settle down and choose a movie that we'll watch together... after the kids have spent two hours arguing over a title, and at some point during the scenario there will be more arguing over who dared to finish the popcorn. Toss into the mix that my 10 year old isn't feeling well and slept most of yesterday and was up most of last night. So I'll be nursing him back to health today too. But I wouldn't have it any other way. That's what motherhood is about. Being a mother is an honor, a privilege and a gift. It's not about getting fancy gifts or even going out for fancy meals. A simple "thanks for being a great mom" is what it's really all about. 

Mother's Day isn't even about napping or taking time off. You can find time to do that any day, it doesn't have to be on Mother's Day. Mother's Day, in my opinion, should be about being a mother and celebrating your family and children. That's what the day ought to be about.

Like every mother out there I too am overtired, overwhelmed and overstressed. There are days I collapse from sheer exhaustion. There are nights that I wake in a sheer sweat and panic and stay up for hours. There are days I think I can't take anymore. There are moments, which aren't pretty, where I throw tantrums in frustration. It's hard work, motherhood. No one said it would be easy and I certainly never entered it thinking it would be. (Though I had no idea it could get as hard as it does.) And while some days seem never to end, our children's time with us is fleeting and before you know it they'll be leaving the nest. Their time with us is a gift... I'm not sure why we feel we need to be rewarded for that.

When I was little my mother used to tell me that she didn't need to celebrate Mother's Day - every day is Mother's Day she told me. I just didn't get it. I do now.