Sunday, May 13, 2012

Old Faithful

I told myself I was going to be happy this Mother's Day.  I actually tell myself that every year and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  I know what you're thinking,

This girl is not going to do this.  She is not going to commit the great sacrilege of saying something negative about Mother's Day, quite possibly the most protected holiday of the year whereby on Facebook we pay great homage to all the saints who live, breathe and walk the earth among us, these women we are honored to call 'Mother'.

And you would be right, I'm not going to.

But what I am going to confess is that I've never known quite what to do with myself on this holiday, not really knowing how to BE "Mother". 

Surely my dear you've figured it out after three kids and eleven or so years, you say, and to some extent I have.  But I know that since my first, and my very worst Mother's Day (actually being a mother), where suddenly there were too many mothers on the block and there was hell to pay and I was the one that owed, I've been looking for all the clues I can find as to how I'm supposed to act and that never really turns up any positive results for me.  I've stopped standing in front of the card section at Target thinking God will strike me down for being a bad daughter when I keep turning up duds and sticking them back in their slots.  I've stopped feeling sorry for myself for what isn't.  Today I turn my thoughts to what is.

I look into my husband's face as it erupts like Old Faithful only on a continuous flow, pretending he doesn't have the worst cold of the year as he tells me what a great job I'm doing.  I listen when he tells me to relax, to not be so tense, and that I'm not allowed to touch the laundry or clean or do any cooking or dishes.  I look at the new running outfit he gave me so I "can look cute" when I run, especially when I go with friends, not because of how my appearance reflects upon him but because this is how he hopes I will feel in his gift.  I glance at the toothbrush holder and see how he's thoughtfully set his brush aside because he's equally as afraid of catching germs as he is of giving them to me and I think today is in part about our relationship.  Without it there would be no children.

I look again into the eyes of my kids and squeeze them as they hand me all their homemade gifts, the cards, the picture frame, the bookmark that's really a laminated picture of my littlest with a yarn pom pom coming out of the top that I'll keep forever.  I feel the duct tape ring on my finger that my daughter just brought me as I type and instead of feeling detached and wondering if the kids really mean all of this for me, I decide instead that they do and remember that they are new to the Mother's Day game, that they don't have the forty years of baggage I carry and vow not to give it to them.

So instead of pressuring myself into thinking there's some great thing I have to do or be today, I remember this isn't my last chance.  This holiday comes every year and I get to practice and I don't have to be some super-fantastic-excellent-saintly-does-everything-right-mother and I don't have to have it all figured out.  Today it just means eating a little too much, sitting outside, going for a long run and not much more.  It means listening to my husband drive our kids nuts singing the Barney clean-up song long after they're Barney age just to motivate them to work so I don't have to, and watching him stop every now and then to mop up the blasting geyser.

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