I had a crummy Mother’s Day.
Moms aren’t supposed to say that but there it is. And I wasn’t alone, trust me. Moms all across America were having crummy Mother’s Days. I know because I ran into a couple of them.
My husband and daughter rose early to go prepare breakfast at church. In honor of Mother’s Day, I got to pick the menu but it’s not quite the same as getting served breakfast in bed. Especially since their early absence meant I got to rustle the boys out of bed and get them ready for church on my own. That’s about like most Sundays except this time, they had been out very late the night before and wouldn’t get out of bed. Exasperated, I attempted to employ Mommy Guilt: “Come on boys! It’s Mother’s Day! Can’t you please do what you are supposed to do without me having to fight you?!”
That met with limited success. Still, we got out the door earlier than usual – mostly because I dragged myself out of bed earlier than usual. Sane moms like to sleep in on Mother’s Day. I am no longer sane. I had a long list of responsibilities waiting for me at church: I needed to replenish the papers in the children’s worship notebooks, teach Sunday School, practice bells, and perform in three different bell pieces, oh and check with a number of other people about upcoming events. Then my daughter called asking me to pick something up at home and also get some milk from the store. I didn’t get to church on time.
That meant I was rushing around trying to take care of everything. In the midst of all that, my husband reminded me that the older two kids had a recital at 2:00 in the afternoon. So much for fixing tacos and watching Dr. Who after church. More on the recital later.
As I sat at a table, snarfing down my breakfast (which, I must say, included a cup of my favorite yogurt purchased especially for me by my husband and daughter), a friend walked in with her two kids. Jane looked up and cheerfully wished her a Happy Mother’s Day. She smiled in that sweet, ironic way that we use when we appreciate something but still aren’t happy.
“Thank you!” she said, turning to glare at her kids. “You are the first person to say that to me today.” She then went on to rant about her allegedly unappreciative children as they stared sullenly at the table. It didn’t take a rocket scientist or even another overly taxed mother to recognize that she wasn’t getting a great start to her Mother’s Day. I tried to calm the nerves and lighten the mood, which didn’t work too well since I wasn’t exactly starting from a happy place myself.
Before long, I was attempting to teach Sunday School, which I had not prepared for, which meant I knew I was not making it particularly exciting for anyone and I had no clue what was coming next since I hadn’t read it ahead of time. Then I went to practice bells with such a jumble of nerves that I just felt like nothing was clicking. I didn’t play well and Hal was pouting because I wouldn’t let him go out to play.
I encountered yet another mom a short time later and attempted to wish her a hearty Happy Mother’s Day. She rolled her eyes at me and indicated that none of her three children had yet said those words to her. Must be something in the water, I said, telling her about the earlier mom.
“Well,” she clarified, “My oldest did send me a text. That’s all she could manage. I ranked high enough for a text message, not a face-to-face or even a phone call.”
“I got tagged in a selfie on Instagram taken in our bathroom this morning,” I said. Although, to be fair to my daughter, she did remember to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day before I got out of bed too. Still, the selfie tag was distinctly odd to me.
It was, of course, difficult to settle into the Worship service with so much going on. I didn’t get to watch my children sing in the children’s choir because I played bells for one of the songs and then stayed trapped behind them for the other. Turns out that Hal had remained on the pew anyway and neither of his siblings had thought to drag him up front. He still expected me to give him the gum I had promised him after he sang… even though he didn’t sing. That resulted in a quiet, prolonged fit next to me.
The boys and I were able to leave the church shortly after 12:30 but Jane and her Daddy had to clean up from breakfast. We didn’t have much time before the recital so I reheated some leftover pizza that we all ate quickly while my husband baked the cookies we needed to provide for the reception after the recital.
Now, I suppose many people think it is sweet and endearing to have a solo recital on Mother’s Day. I’m not one of those people. At least, not anymore. I get it. Moms love their kids. They like to see their kids perform. But, it’s a lot of work to find clothes sufficiently dressy for them to wear. And I’ve been attending these recitals for eight years now. There’s only so much scratching through Twinkle Twinkle Little Star that one woman can handle. Yes, I love to watch my kids play but a recital isn’t just about them. It’s also about all those other kids too, who, I’m sorry, in my stressed out state, I really don’t care to listen to. But I have to sit quietly with a pleasant smile on my face and clap at the appropriate times.
It was just one more obligation in a day full of obligations and responsibilities. I was tired. I was stressed. My time was not my own. The one day when I should have gotten to set the agenda, I did not get to. And that was my biggest problem with the day.
Things improved when I got to the reception. We sat down with some friends we don’t see often and just talked. The one nice thing about parenting a teenager is getting to talk with the parents of other teenagers and receive confirmation that you are not alone. That that sweet girl smiling at the nearby table secretly turns into a witch at home just like yours does.
And eventually, we went home. And after I took care of some church business and some volleyball business and some laundry, I finally got to start my day roughly how I wanted it to go, sometime around 5:00 in the evening. We fixed tacos together and watched an episode of Dr. Who, while I folded laundry. And then the boys went to bed reasonably easily and Jane retired to her room and then we watched Grey’s Anatomy while I folded more laundry and drank a glass of Orange Moscato. And my husband didn’t even get upset when I knocked over his favorite tumbler, shattering it on the floor.