I wrote this piece last year for Motif Magazine and it stirred a bit of controversy. I’m reposting it because I still think the message is important. It’s slightly different (i.e. less offensive) than my original post, but I think I’ve made my point. Hope you like it:
Invariably when I ask my fellow moms what they’re doing for Mother’s Day, I receive one of two responses: (1) we’re spending the day with my mother/mother-in-law or (2) we’re going out to brunch/lunch/dinner as a family. Correct me if I’m wrong but Mother’s Day is supposed to be a celebration of women who are mothering children; to honor their hard work and give them a break. It is not a day to torture these women, right? Then why, oh why, are they engaging in such dreadful activities?
Don’t argue with me here. Please don’t try to tell me that going out for brunch with your family is “fun.” It’s not. “But” you insist, “my partner made a reservation at my favorite brunch spot. Of course it will be a great day!” Perhaps you’re picturing yourself, dressed in grown-up, party clothes, enjoying a mimosa as you dine on delectable food. You glance over at your partner with a smile of appreciation on your face. You don’t have to cook or clean a thing. He feels smugly satisfied that he conquered Mother’s Day and might even get laid that night. The children are well coiffed and perfectly behaved. It truly is a day to remember.
You’re both delusional.
How does this scene actually play out? You can’t get the mimosas down fast enough because the kids are loud and boisterous in a restaurant that doesn’t cater to children. They complain about the fancy food. They follow you to the omelet station and begin to juggle the raw eggs. They are only satiated by electronic devices so you desperately hand them your iPhone, only to be met by the nasty glare of fellow diners who must now endure the theme music to “Plants vs. Zombies.” You can’t wait to get the bill and go home to do some laundry. And by the way, you still need to cook dinner.
Perhaps your partner is not quite so delusional, so he takes you to a kid-friendly restaurant. Now picture yourself spending your special day at a steakhouse chain restaurant, wolfing down a large slab of cow carcass as you’re surrounded by peanut dust and loud noise. If you’re lucky, a teenager wearing an armadillo costume will you hand you a red rose. Please.
Worse than going out to eat is the prospect of having to entertain your mother or mother-in-law on Mother’s Day. Not that there’s anything wrong with them, but this is your day, not theirs. You might choose to spend some time with your mom or mother-in-law, like I’ve done in the past; maybe go shopping together, have dinner at a nice restaurant or take in a show. That’s not objectionable.
What is objectionable is the notion that you must spend your mother’s day cooking and cleaning for people who’ve been honored now for 20-40 years. They’re done; time to pass the torch to the next generation. Plus, they are no longer “mothering” anyone. They aren’t living the day-to-day grind of raising children, from which one seriously needs a break. They enjoy our children without having to discipline them. When they get overwhelmed, they leave. Isn’t their status as Grandmother enough? Speaking of which, they have Grandparent’s Day.
So what should we do on Mother’s Day? Ditch our children and families and selfishly enjoy a day doing what we love to do? YES! Take the whole day off from diapers, meals, housework, whining, schedules, etc. and instead do whatever you please. This could be our new Mother’s Day tradition. Nice restaurants would be filled with women enjoying each other’s company, relaxing over a long, pleasant meal. The steakhouse chain restaurants will still be packed, but with Dads and their kids; maybe some grandparents. This is the Mother’s Day of my dreams.
You might feel guilty, but it will pass – I promise. I began this tradition a few years back when my children were quite young. My husband traveled often for work and I stayed home with my newborn and toddler. When he asked me that year what I wanted to do for Mother’s Day, I told him “Get as far away from YOU as possible.” I meant all three of them. He seemed slightly offended but seemed to bounce back.
Admittedly I did experience a pang of guilt later that day when I went out to dinner alone with my mom (my choice!). We saw scores of our female compatriots dining with their families, making me wonder: Is there something wrong with me? Am I a bad, selfish person? Within moments, however, a toddler let out a loud scream; an older child complained about the food; a sullen teenager sat fixated on his phone. No one was truly relaxing and enjoying themselves except for us. All guilt went out the window and I’m never going back.
You too can finally enjoy Mother’s Day – for real. Tell you mother and mother-in-law that you won’t be stopping by with that over-priced plant. Tell you partner not to bother with brunch reservations. You won’t be doing anything that doesn’t bring you peace, relaxation and enjoyment. If you absolutely can’t let go of that Mother’s Day delusion, may I suggest dinner at one of those restaurants that serve bottomless wine? The food might suck and the kids might be monsters, but at least you’ll be too drunk to remember.
Whatever you do, I hope it’s happy. You deserve it.