To be or not to be... with my kids on Mother's Day.
Mother's Day is upon us. And the question on my mind is not where to go for an over-priced prix-fixe brunch; it's whether I should spend the day with my children at all.
Every mother I know is stretched, and not the kind that happens at a high-end Pilates studio. Working full-time means 40-50 hours at the office, handling dinner a couple nights a week and still filling out multiple sets of camp forms. Not working means running the household, co-chairing the PTA fundraising committee, shuttling kids to/from play dates, and working on a screenplay. Working part-time, as I do, is a combination of freelance projects with unpredictable schedules, cobbling together childcare and chaperoning Kindergarten field trips where more time is spent on the bus than at the Math Museum. For my friends who are single moms, there are no words except awe, respect and "Do you want Jake to sleep at our place this weekend so you can go to a movie and take a bath?"
Also, many mothers and families have (by choice) gotten sucked into kid-dominated weekends filled with soccer games, birthday parties, swim and piano lessons. Whether you find these activities to be boring or a blessing, they are definitely not "me time." One mother at my kids school said they are having Mother's Day on Friday night because Sunday is completely booked with her kids baseball and soccer games. Oy.
So, is it that strange to consider spending Mother's Day, i.e. OUR DAY, alone and not with our children?
A couple years ago, one of my neighbors took herself to Kripalu, a yoga retreat in Western Mass. for Mother's Day weekend and returned home to her husband and two kids early Sunday evening. When I heard this plan, I definitely thought, Now, that's an idea. But when I mentioned this R&R escape to a relative in Texas, also a mother with two small children, she told me plain and simple this was not for her, "It's Mother's Day and I want to be with my children."
My husband, born and raised in Europe to an American mother and French father, is a lovely, supportive guy with a sexy accent, but observing Hallmark holidays are not his strong suit. When the subject "What Are We Going To Do For Mother's Day," came up last week, he told me, "In France, we got my mother flowers and ate a nice meal, that was it." Guess who cooked that nice meal?
The Mother's Day celebrations of my childhood followed a set routine. After climbing into my parents' bed with some version of breakfast in bed for my mother, there was some Monopoly playing and fighting with my brother. Then we went to my grandmother's country club for dinner. It was on these outings that I learned our family dress code: Neat and Clean. The conversation before leaving the house went something like this:
"Do I have to wear a dress?"
"No, but you have to be Neat and Clean."
"But I don't have anything that is Neat and Clean," said the 11-year-old tomboy.
"Then if the only thing you have that is Neat and Clean is a dress..."
You get the picture. While frustrating at the time, it was a reasonable guideline and I use the same one with my sons on special occasions. I found out later in life that a three-generation dinner at Pine Brook Country Club was NOT what my mother wanted to do on her Mother's Day; she did it to please her own mother.
When my boys were 4 and 7 years old, probably the same year my neighbor was doing Vinyasas 140 miles away, they made me breakfast in bed. Two little fellas that could barely wipe their own you-know-what brought in a tray with Rice Krispies, strawberries and OJ. First, I didn't know we had a tray (I think it was a cutting board) and second, I don't really like cereal. But it was a very sweet gesture and important to them that I eat what they had prepared (on my day). After one glance at my non-Hallmark husband, I started eating. It was not a big sacrifice, but it was another mother making someone else happy on Mother's Day.
Tonight, while picking up a pizza -- happy to be alone for 10 blocks -- I bumped into a friend. When I asked what she was doing for Mother's Day, she responded: "As little as possible." That sounded like the best idea so far, regardless who is in the room.