Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Irony of Motherhood

Mother's Day is the one holiday that is wrought with irony.

Sidebar: It is in fact a holiday, right? I suppose it would be more so if we all got Monday off. A weekday off is reserved for only dead presidents and MLK, I guess. Even Susan B. Anthony doesn't get a holiday, just a crappy one dollar coin that everyone confused with a quarter and isn't minted anymore anyhow. Anyway, back to my original point about Mother's Day brimming with irony.

Today marks the 100th year of moms receiving greeting cards (Have you noticed the price of these things lately?!), handpicked gerber daisies from the neighbor's garden, a splash of White Diamonds or other such department store scent, and a shawl or something else plush and lovely. The irony is that Anna Jarvis, the mother of Mother's Day, never married or had children. Apparently Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia houses the only official shrine to mothers. Its purpose is to serve as a "reminder to the accomplishments of these women and to the issues mothers still deal with today, trying to do the balancing act of being everything to everyone." Hmmmm....a pretty decent sentiment if you ask me.

Now for another dose of irony.

You know what I want to mark my special day? A day spent away from the very things that welcomed me into the legions of tired, spent, tugged at, whined to, frenetic women before me: my kids. There, I said it.

Don't you over-indulging helicopter moms start waxing on about what an ungrateful wretch I am. Oh, don't go shooting me nasty comments because you think I don't love my children. I just don't want to be with them ALL THE TIME. Does that make me a bad mom? Does it make me unfit? Does it mean I don't cherish my children? A resounding NO. Turn your pointed little judgmental fingers away, stop rolling your eyes, tuck your scowls away and hear me out. It goes without saying that I adore my children. I sneak peeks at them while they are sleeping, stroke their hair, and whisper "Mommy loves you" in their ears. I romp with them. I smother them with hugs and kisses. I shower them with praise. But I still need, and enjoy, a stolen break. No matter how rewarding and glorious motherhood is, we all need to take some time away to return to a past likeness of ourselves, to readjust, to rejuvenate. I will be a better mother for it.

Mac Daddy was planning on taking the kids to Marbles and an Imax movie this afternoon. At first I was reluctant to go through with these plans. After all, my children are responsible for granting me this day. Shouldn't we be together? I moped and whined about these plans, Mac Daddy all the while insisting I take an afternoon to myself. Then the WHINING set in. Rounds upon rounds of:

"He's TOUCHING me! Ooh, I said he's TOUCHING me. With his FFFOOOOTT!!!!"

"Deal knocked over my tower!"

"Now he's kicking me!"

"No! I don't want to ride on your rocketship!"

"Mmmmoooommmmmm, he won't get on my rocketship!"



"Get off of me!"

"He pinched me!"

"He pushed me!"

"No! No! No!"



There aren't enough exclamation points allotted to me to make this series of whines come to life. And so I acquiesced and let Mac Daddy take the boys. I nary bid them a hearty farewell and enjoyed a shower with no interruptions, no one slathering on my body butter, no one experimenting with trying to put eyeliner on the cat, no one hooking my combs and brushes together to make airplanes, no one jumping on the bed and throwing pillows (the hand embroidered silk ones!), no one opening the shower door just for shits and giggles. An utterly silent shower. Just me, five body sprayers (Thank you, Mac Daddy for granting me this small luxury when we remodeled our house!) and the luscious smell of almond sugar body scrub. I actually had time to shave both legs today. Armpits too.

Now here I sit, rocking out to ABBA, hot coffee in hand, cat at my feet. Don't mock me. I know you know every single word to Take a Chance on Me. Lately it seems that Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! has been my theme song.

Here comes the next great irony.

I haven't a clue what to do with myself. A pedicure? I indulged in a homemade one yesterday during nap time. Read? My much anticipated book, Rockabye, has yet to arrive, and I just finished Dreams From my Father. Magazines? There are nothing but Business Week and Entrepreneur left in the stack. Yawn. All the things on my to-do list involve filing, organizing, cleaning, or similar tasks that don't feel very celebratory at all. And so here I sit, blogging to an unseen audience, basically having a conversation with myself.

I am, however, reminded by myriad photos surrounding me, that there aren't adequate words to describe the utter, selfless love I feel for Bird and Deal. They make me crazy, yes. They also make my insides hurt with unabashed love that would make me hurl boulders at any bully who dares tease my babies on the playground. Bird and Deal have opened my eyes to a world I didn't know existed. Their candid, innocent perspective is just what I need. Like yesterday when Bird declared that when he started growing in my belly he was the size of a sprinkle. I am fortunate, blessed even, to have been sprinkled with the finest taste of motherhood.

I am also left thinking about what I wish for my boys. Above all, I want them to be good stewards of their planet, their communities, their own families and selves. I want them to be to responsible citizens, loving men, generous souls. I want the world to be a friendlier place. More friends, fewer enemies. I want them to put others first and lend a hand before tossing out judgmental words. I want them to have a dose of idealism planted in their psyches. I want them to know the power they wield as citizens, first generation Americans. And I want them to know the responsibility that comes with it.

Back to the irony:

And let's not forget those mothers we hated during our teen years. Oh, the vitriol from back in the day makes me shudder. Now we have mended those wounds, forgiven trespasses, and learned to connect again. We actually never stopped loving our moms all those hormonal, confused days ago. The difference is that now we understand them, their plights, their sorrows, their paradigms, in a way we did not and could not before we became mothers ourselves. A shout out to you, Mom, for loving me despite myself and having the optimism to know that I'd turn out OK. I love you!

Yet the irony remains. What to do with my afternoon? Oh wait, it's after noon. DSW is open!

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Anonymous said...

Very interesting fact about Mothers Day. Yes, I too love my son with all my heart, but oh today I could have done without the temper tantrum becuase I wouldn't carry him up the steps. Of course it is only the two of us today. This cracked me up becuase I would not have had a clue as to what to do. Funny isn't it? Good idea to go buy shoes.

Anonymous said...

Kudos, on expressing what so many Moms pretend not to think! My Mother's Day present is a trip by myself over Memorial Day weekend. Yes, I feel somewhat guilty about leaving them along, but my MIL tells them she will be in charge while I am gone!

I am glad you got some time to yourself this afternoon and took the time to blog about it!


Lawyer Mama said...

Ah, yes, I feel that way often too!

Happy Mother's Day!

Anonymous said...

Yes! Enjoy! Happy Mother's Day.

Anonymous said...

Hope you had fun worshipping at the temple of shoedom!

The Cube Monkey said...

Every year my husband asks me what I want for mothers day and every year I tell him the same thing....Leave me alone. lol
So every year "I" get the couch. "I" get the clicker. I don't do any laundry, house cleaning, cooking. My husband makes me dinner (usually on the grill), I drink a bottle of wine and veg.
I only have one child, but I feel no guilt what so ever. This is my birthday and mothers day ritual and that's that.