“Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children”
~ William Makepeace Thackeray
In my 10 years as a mommy, I’ve had some interesting Mother’s Days. And I don’t mean every day as a mom, though those days are interesting/challenging/fun/exhausting/insert adjective here. No, I mean the second Sunday in May, the one reserved to honor “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world”.
Mother’s Day observances are celebrated on various dates throughout the world, but in the United States, celebrating on the second Sunday in May became official in 1914, when President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation to designate Mother’s Day as a national holiday, although the first recorded observance was in 1908*. As a side note, while there was an early Father’s Day observance also dating back to 1908, that did not become an officially recognized holiday until 1966, and a national holiday until 1972.
Statistics show that Mother’s Day is the biggest holiday for long-distance calls, and the third highest day for church attendance (after Christmas and Easter).
My least favorite Mother’s Day was the one where I cried. In church. Because my kids were ignoring me and being little turds, and I found myself sitting alone in the pew while every other mom was being doted on.
My second least favorite was the one where I had stomach flu, no extra details needed.
My third least, when my husband was called away for 10 days to the Santa Barbara fire. Worried about him, I tried to find comfort in snuggling my son, who was just 16 months old at the time, when he leaned in for what I thought was a kiss but instead snotted all over my face. My kid blew his nose on me and laughed.
I’d go on, but point made, when I think of Mother’s Day, it’s tears, puke and snot.
Not all my Mother’s Days have been terrible. One year I slept in AND had breakfast made for me, though that one also came with my kids yelling BOO! and startling me while I was in the shower because they thought I was hiding. Me? Hide? Ha. My Mother’s Days are not conventional.
The one truth I know is that nothing compares to the love of a mother.
All three of my top crummy Mother’s Days were salvaged because of my mom. The day I cried in church, nobody noticed that I had even left and gone to the bathroom, except my mom. There I was, doing the ugly cry, feeling sorry for myself, when the door opened and the face I saw was of my own mom. She made it better with a hug, because moms know just what you need. It was her special day too, but she made sure that I was the one who felt loved, as she’s always done.
Curious about how Mother’s Day is received by my mom friends, I asked a few what came to mind when they heard the words “Mother’s Day”.
Most of them responded with their own moms and grandmas, or how blessed they feel to be moms to their kids.
Some said brunch while another lamented “making everyone else breakfast even though it’s Mother’s Day”.
One lucky mom claimed, “A day to do whatever I want”. She’s clearly got the day dialed in.
My own mom replied “sunshine and flowers in the garden”. She swore she’s not being sarcastic (yes, I asked). Which makes me happy because I hope that means she feels loved.
My friend Carrie, mother to three, replied with this honest thought, “the juxtaposition of Mother’s Day is that we want to honor our mothers, but at the same time we don’t slow down to allow ourselves to be honored.”
And there is truth in that. Mothers often plan Mother’s Day to make sure mothers feel special but don’t always feel special themselves, though the expectation is there, and then feel disappointed when the day isn’t what they envisioned.
Or maybe that’s just me. Maybe everyone else has perfect Hallmark holiday Mother’s Days with well-behaved children, oodles of extra sleep, flowers, candy, jewels, brunch, and laundry that is blissfully washed, folded and put away.
But I kind of doubt it, because motherhood is as messy as it is beautiful.
A friend once told me that sometimes the good and the bad are wrapped up so tightly together that you have to take it as a whole package. At the time, she was discussing life in general but it always stuck with me because it certainly pertains to motherhood. Whoever coined the phrase, “Life doesn’t come with a manual, it comes with a mother” got it correct.
This year, Mother’s Day happens to fall on my daughter’s 7th birthday and, I’m told, birthday’s trump Mother’s Day. My son declared (a little tongue in cheek) that he can’t possibly be nice to both of us on the same day, which, while a crappy thing to say, takes the pressure off me. I have a clear expectation of what my Mother’s Day will be like.
As is my normal, it’ll be another unconventional one, but one spent with family, including my own mom. Hopefully the tears, puke, and snot will be minimal. Upside, because it’s also a birthday, at least I’m guaranteed cake. I’ll make sure of that.
No matter how you celebrate or who you spend it with, here is hoping all the mothers out there have a very happy Mother’s Day. May your day be as special as you are!
*The First Mother’s Day was held by Anna Jarvis in memory of her mother. She later trademarked the term- although she resented the commercialization of the event.