I was more ambivalent about Mother's Day this year than I usually am. I am a reluctant participant in most holidays, and Mother's Day and Father's Day strike me as the most made-up of the made-up Hallmark tomfoolery, plus both are additionally fraught with not-so-tacit insult to nontraditional families, those who choose not to have children, those who can't have children, etc. etc. etc. Ugh. A mess, the whole thing, if you ask me, even under the best of circumstances.
Something I've had to face about myself in the past few years is that I'm not always terribly gracious. This trait becomes most apparent when it comes to gifts and holidays. I have a hard time with accepting people doing something nice for me if what they present or how they want to celebrate doesn't match my desires. And I don't like to acknowledge something or someone just because I'm supposed to. Wow, writing that down makes me sound like a total asshole, and the truth is that I've probably come off that way a thousand times in the past.
I've been working on this, though, working on it really, really hard. The work is paying off in that I have come recently to see the joy in both giving and receiving gifts. It's also more clear to me how much gifts, ritual, and ceremony can mean to others, and how I need to consider that even if it's hard for me to understand. It's all about love, really, in the end and how you either show someone you love them or acknowledge that they have shown you the same. To not be kind about that is to be jerk, when you come right down to it.
And so, even if my cold stone of a heart thinks Mother's Day is a racket, I tried to put on my game face. It was not easy, I have to say. I had a lot of discomfort with the fact that society was telling my kids to love me more on this one random day, or that I was somehow a better person because I was a mom, or that I was supposed to get special treatment--often meaning time away from my kids!--in honor of my motherhood. Huh? And yet, I found that I also had discomfort around the fact that the main way in which my family honored this way was by getting together for lunch, which was largely prepared and served by my mom and me.* Yes, it's true, I didn't want to be pampered at Hallmark's request, but I also didn't want to do all the work. Maybe I am still an asshole.
Or at least maybe I was still an asshole until the day arrived, because I have to say that I have no complaints and a wealth of joy about what happened today. It was a lovely day. I ran a 5K with friends, and felt so much gratitude about having friends who made the running of that race possible for me. Also, I ran fast.** After the race, we went to my mom and stepdad's, stopping along the way to buy some flowers for my mom.*** It was hot and sunny and we got out the slip'n'slide for the kids and drank prosecco and had lunch and opened gifts and read stories and just let the time slip away. Everyone was happy to be together. It seemed unimportant once I arrived that the moms had done the bulk of the work. It was mostly "work," really, nothing more than I would have done on any other day.
When Maddie, Riley, and I left, I gave myself the gift of not judging myself. I stopped at 7-11 and got Slurpees for all of us. When we got home, I did some chores while the kids played Wii bowling. I made spaghetti with jarred red sauce for dinner. That's all. Spaghetti and red sauce in a bowl, with some grated cheese. No veggie or fruit or anything. Just pasta in a dish. IT WAS SO FREAKING SIMPLE and everyone was happy. Then we watched three episodes of Avatar, read some Harry Potter (we're on book 5!), and now they are asleep.
Now I'm going to go to bed because nothing says Day of Indulgence to me like going to bed early.
I'm no more special than anyone by virtue of being a mom, and I don't need a day devoted to trying to make me think I am, especially when that day makes others feel bad about what they don't or can't have. But have no quibble with the joy of spending time with people I love, and of having tangible demonstrations of their love for me, and of having a (forced) reason to reflect on the gratitude I have for all that is in my life, even I am still an ambivalent asshole about it sometimes.
*Not entirely, but mostly.
**Supposedly I came in 14th or 15th overall, but I'm waiting for the official results to post. ???!!!
***Maddie and Riley love to give people flowers, very cute.