Through the misty showers I search for May flowers. My thoughts are on Mother’s Day. Last Sunday my mind was elsewhere during the deacon’s sermon. The words, “…celebrating mothers for the entire week up to Mother’s Day” brought me out of my reverie as I tried to focus on his words. A whole week to celebrate mothers? I smacked my husband awake in the pew next to me but apparently he had heard the words as he grunted.
What conjured up in my mind was celebrating a whole week until Father’s Day. I tried to think of what that would entail and all the things I would try to have the kids do to celebrate Dad. That’s when I caught myself. The things I would try to do. Later, I asked my group of girlfriends as we sat around a table, what they would like for the upcoming Mother’s Day. We whispered and daydreamed of our ideal day, as well as past disappointments. Some of the girls have become pragmatic, as have I, and have outright told their husbands what they would like on that day. Some of the other girls like the surprise. But we all have expectations. And we have all been disappointed.
When I was a new mom I couldn’t wait to celebrate the day that validated me, the mother. I chose to leave the workplace to fulfill my role and did it with gusto. I read parenting books, subscribed to both Parents and Parenting magazines, joined parenting groups. I dutifully journaled each milestone and snapped photos at any opportunity. Our Mommy and Me class at the local hospital became my lifeline as I sat amongst other new moms and shared stories of our days. We scheduled playdates, attended plays and concerts, planned activities. And when that day came, the second Sunday in May, I wanted to be lavishly celebrated for being the greatest mother; and my husband delivered since he was deployed for most of my boys’ young lives.
I have since realized the unrealistic expectations I had. As my family grew and I became more overwhelmed and under appreciated I never saw the selfishness of my actions. When I think of what I have learned most about motherhood it is this one simple word. Sacrifice. Until you become a parent, you have no idea how selfless parenting is. It is intrinsic in humans to be self-centered. We can’t help it; we’re wired that way. Fight or flight; self-preservation. We crave beauty although so much so that we fall into gluttony and the ever increasing more. Adam and Eve were discontent in paradise and longed for: knowledge, self-control. And so it goes…
My yang (male, positive energy, good guy, aka husband) does not require a lot of maintenance. A Father’s day celebration for him would be a BBQ and he’d be grilling the meat. He enjoys cards and personal sentiments but gifts are not required. Any acknowledgement is sufficient and he’d love to just have uninterrupted time with his three sons. My boys are old enough now to coordinate something to do with their Dad. And when I asked them, What would you want to do for your Dad on Father’s day? they first looked at me quizzically. But isn’t Mother’s day before Father’s Day? Yes, I tell them, but I want to know what you’d want to do for your Dad? I mean, really…work with me here little people. I am on a train of thought, can’t you see?
It was easy for them to decide what they’d do. They’d love to play video games with him all day long, make him pancakes, eggs and bacon for breakfast, hamburgers and soda for lunch (their Dad LOVES hamburgers), pizza for dinner. Then they’d watch all his favorite things: Dr. Who, The Matrix, The Walking Dead…you get the picture. Maybe we’d catch a movie and eat all the popcorn and Reese’s peanut butter pieces we’d want (another Dad fave) and swim late at night. When I queried what they’d do for me….silence. The radar came on. My husband has taught them well and I think they felt they were being tricked with a question where any answer would be the wrong one. I salaciously grinned at them. I wasn’t offended. It just proved my point. My yin, women, are complex. My yang, my male household, they usually know what they want. There are no hidden agendas.
Why can’t Mother’s Day be every day? All our expectations are placed on one day. Is that fair?
When I asked this to my girlfriends the response was quick. Of course we should be celebrated! And yes, I do agree. I don’t mind a day of sentiment. I began to think back to the almost 13 Mother’s Days I have experienced. Do I have a favorite? And as I recollected through the folds in my frontal lobe; specifically my cerebral cortex, the memories that ignite an emotional response are not the ones where I have been given a multitude of flowers or jewelry. I see the handprints my boys and husband made for me in 2007. They enjoyed creating a mosaic and using gold leaf to paint their imprints; the hike that accompanied it and the picture of our young family in the trees. A healthy family, outdoors. I look at that picture and I swear I see myself glow. I glimpse the memories with my own mother, as well as my husband’s. Each year the generations come together for Mother’s Day and celebrate; exchanging plants for our gardens.
We are nurturers. We prepare and toil the soil; adding the correct ingredients so that the seed will germinate. One day it will break through the soil and your tireless fussing won’t be required, only sunlight, water and fertile soil for roots to dig deep. The weeds compete for the sunlight so we must cut the weeds down, churning the soil. Pests sometimes take residence on the leaves, causing decay so the home made spray is at the ready. When seeds are young, a good gardener stays vigilant; constantly pruning, churning, spraying, watering. And then the latent period begins…each day the plant grows taller and faster; reaching for the sun. You hardly need to do anything; it just grows! And by the end of summer, after the April showers, my May flowers bloom bountifully; vibrant colors of pink, red, orange and blue. The branches on our trees are laden with fruit; the fruits of my labor, firm, ripe and sweet.
My seasons are growing short; my seeds ripening before my very eyes. I will lower my expectations for this second Sunday in May. I have told the hubs I’d like some help from my little seedlings in the garden; away from the insidious, glaring computer and TV screens. I want some quality Mom time; bickering and fidgeting included. I need to churn the soil so my seeds continue to grow. And, of course, a snapshot to capture this moment in time.