I have always hated Mother’s Day. It’s not because I lost my mom; she is still alive and kicking in Florida at 76 years old. It’s not because I have horrible children, because I don’t; they are well-adjusted, happy adults, and both live within 10 miles of me. I love my children with every fiber of my soul, but because of those reasons, I feel like a horrible person for saying I hate Mother’s Day, which is another reason I hate it.
When my kids were little, and I was still married to their father, Mother’s Day was always a big production, and I hated it even back then. Mother’s Day then always involved going to brunch. In New Jersey. We lived in Pennsylvania. It was always the same place and required “church” clothes for the whole family, including my little children. The reservation was always at 10:30 in the morning. Which meant we had to leave our house at 9:30 in the morning, which meant I had to shower, get dressed, then get my two little humans dressed and in the car by 9:30, while my ex-husband had the impossible task to make sure he, just him, was ready by 9:30. If you’re a mom or have spent time around little kids, you know how impossible it is to wrangle them into dress clothes and into the car without at least one meltdown. Once in the car, we would drive the hour, crossing state lines to a brunch that would last forever with people I didn’t even really like. Once brunch was over, we would pile back into the car and drive back to Pennsylvania, and it would just turn into any other day, same responsibilities. Cook dinner, give the kids a bath, get them ready for bed, and fall asleep in their bed reading them a story. Mother’s day was always so much more work than an average day.
Fast forward to me sitting in my divorce lawyer’s office, hashing through my custody agreement with said ex-husband, and the subject of Mother’s and Father’s Day came up. My lawyer barely spent any time on those days; they were just a given; Mother’s Day would be spent with me and Father’s day with him. I distinctly remember the conversation, the look on my lawyer’s face, and that familiar mother guilt feeling I had in the pit of my stomach when I said, “wait, I want to talk about that”. I wanted it to be reversed. I wanted my small humans, and they were small at the time; they were 3 and 4 years old when I divorced their father, to spend Mother’s Day with their Father. I had no money then, and I always felt forced to do something with them because it was Mother’s Day. When I was certain my lawyer would call Child Protective Services and have a completely different conversation, I back off my request. It should be noted my lawyer was a man, so I am one thousand percent sure he couldn’t understand my request. He couldn’t understand how all I wanted for Mother’s Day back then was to sleep. My son still didn’t sleep through the night, and I didn’t want to cook any meal; I didn’t want to put anyone to bed, read anyone a story. I just wanted to sleep, drink my coffee in peace, and eat whatever I wanted without there having to be something green on my plate. I wanted to sit on the couch, watch trash tv while drinking vodka and cranberry juice, and not have to be responsible for anyone but myself for 24 hours.
Now, my kids are adults. I can talk to them whenever. I can see them whenever and I don’t need a special day to do that. Mother’s Day is different like most holidays are when your kids are adults, but my version of the perfect Mother’s Day hasn’t really changed much from the ’90s when my kids were little. But here’s the thing, as a mother, you are always wracked with unreasonable guilt. As a mother, you feel guilty for feeding your kids fast food for dinner instead of making sure they are eating something green. As a mother, you feel guilty for taking five minutes to yourself, and it always seems to be in the bathroom with the door locked and little hands pounding on the door yelling “Mommy”. As a mother, you feel guilty for wanting to sleep in until noon and not wanting to fight over why your kid needs to get dressed when you didn’t want to get dressed yourself. Mother’s Day is not a holiday for most moms; it is just like any other day, but with more things to do on top of everything else.
Even now, I am fighting the guilt of even putting these words down on “paper” and sending them out into the world, but I hate Mother’s Day. I realize there are people out there who wish they had their mother’s around, and maybe my feelings will change when I can’t just pick up the phone and call my mom whenever I want. I don’t hate my children; I just hate Mother’s Day. I don’t hate my mother; I just hate Mother’s Day.
So, Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there who feel the same way but couldn’t dream of uttering the words, “leave me alone” when asked what they want to do for Mother’s Day; I see you.