Guys: take heed. Mother’s Day is upon us. I’ll give you a moment to panic and scramble and go buy a card and some stupid chocolate rose for your mom. She’ll love it. She loves you. Just give her a call, would ya? You’re a prince.
While I normally have a fair amount of disdain for fabricated holidays, I have to admit a soft spot for Mother’s Day. And it isn’t just because I’m a celebrant. I’ve always enjoyed taking an opportunity to show my appreciation for the matriarchs in my life. They’ve worked tirelessly over the years, and I’m realizing now how little explicit thanks they must have received from their offspring for the first decade or so of hard labor. The hokey commercials on TV these days are abundant, thanking moms and showing them engaged in pivotal parenting acts with their children over the years: cheering them on in their sporting endeavors which ultimately lead to worldwide professional success; consoling them after a tough first day of school; walking them down the aisle; seeing them off to college. It’s all good, fluffy stuff, and I’m not going to say I haven’t cried a few times this week. But, as so many of us know, it’s the experiences in between those seminal moments that really exemplify how much we love our kids. It’s the little things, the unglamorous things, the unspoken and often unnoticed things that would never make it into the ad script. The memories that stick out in my mind from this past year that make me feel accomplished as a parent are not the ones I would ever have predicted.
For me, motherhood is confronting a centipede the length of my forefinger in head-on battle and pretending all the while that I’m not in the throes of a phobic seizure just so she won’t internalize my fears and make them her own.
It’s being starving during my seventh month of pregnancy and giving her all the chicken from my diabetes-friendly salad because she rejected the sandwich I bought her. (This may also be known as spoiling my kid, I realize.)
It’s standing outside for an hour in unseasonably cold weather and pretending to enjoy touching dirt and worms because she was dying to take a toddler gardening class.
It’s enduring an endless temper tantrum without giving into her psychotic demands or throwing both of us out a window.
Motherhood is making rejected meal after rejected meal in the hopes that one day a vegetable accidentally flies into her open mouth, and she realizes she likes it.
Motherhood is sitting in the bathroom for three quarters of an hour, reading stories and waiting for something miraculous to happen on the potty.
It’s staying awake at night thinking about whether she’ll be happy in ten years when she starts middle school, and how the social media landscape may change and affect her. (Or is that obsessing over my child? Ah, well. You say potato, I say potahto.)
It’s plopping a helmet on her head and handing her a scooter and hoping for the best, attempting to squelch all my god-given instincts to wring my hands and say “OY.” Also, not laughing or crying when she falls and winds up with a mouthful of dirt.
It’s watching the same idiotic kid’s shows so many times that the only songs to which I now know the words are the opening credits to the Disney, Jr. lineup.
Motherhood is all of this, and it’s so much more and also so much less. It’s perpetually humbling and wonderful and disgusting and complicated. Hug your mom, hug a friend, hug your spouse or your grandma or that lady at Starbucks who somehow knows the orders of the entire neighborhood by heart so that they don’t have to wait too long while their kids are screaming for a cake pop. Then ask them if they would like to take a nap. They all deserve it. They deserve it every day, but Sunday is as good a time as any.