I got to sleep until almost 9am!!!!! It is nearly impossible to articulate both the rarity and enormity of this gift. Coffee, homemade cards and love all around greeted me when I awoke, and I felt, and continue to feel, incredibly grateful. Then a dear friend, whom I see way too infrequently, and I got to go to the farmers market ALONE, putzing lazily, chatting deeply, able to make well-considered purchases rather than the usual harried ones due to one or more monkey-like children hanging from our legs or attempting to shimmy up the purveyor’s tent poles, totally to their chagrin. Suffice it to say, this was a lovely morning. I’m soon going to make a strawberry-rhubarb pie with some of the gorgeous bounty.
Mother’s Day reminds me of New Year’s Eve in some ways. There is a lot of external hullabaloo- “what are your plans? go out for brunch! a big family day in store? don’t forget the card!”- surrounding the expectations of this DAY FOR (?) MOMS. But most moms I know simply want some time to rest, the chance to shift the multitude of parental responsibilities to someone else’s shoulders, a few hours by themselves with a good book, a trashy magazine, a trip to the gym, whatever. In other words, time to not be a mom. For many of us, a day completely contrary to the other 364 per year sounds positively dreamy.
But that desire isn’t really reflected in the Hallmarkian image of Mother’s Day- one spent all together, well-behaved, perfectly content. This past week, as in previous years, mothers all around were quietly admitting our daydream of peaceful solitude to our nearest and dearest gal pals. By and large, this pretty consistently elicited giggles of understanding, responses of “me too!” I think the ‘quiet admission’ aspect is another example of the way mothers feel guilt for not quite matching the purported ideal of a endlessly patient, totally enthusiastic bottomless vessel of I-love-mommy’ness. I love my children with a primal ferociousness, but I am neither endlessly patient nor in possession of bottomless reserve.
Over the past few years, I’ve tried all manner of reconciling these feelings, but what I’ve realized is that you can simultaneously feel intensely in love with your children and with motherhood itself AND an acute, essential need to spend some time away from them. To acknowledge and respect the latter makes the former even more meaningful. By owning my real need to have time for myself and my interests, I am much more able to return to my boys, fully present and enthusiastic. To be the kind of mom I want to be.
Happy Mother’s Day and thank you to all of you out there who are moms in any way. Maternalism makes the world go round.