I am in my reading chair, a languid fan spinning above me. My door is closed. I just showered after working for a couple hours in the garden. My hostas have gone wild and were crowding out other loved plants, so I relocated and weeded and visited with some worms and gave thanks that today the sun came out and started drying things up. The yard was getting so soggy I thought it might metamorphose into a writhing mess of slugs at any moment. Truly, it seemed dire.
The boys and a friend are in Jack's room playing with Legos and singing Don Gato. Listening to them makes me smile. The big kids are always kind to Oliver, they always include him, and I appreciate that. Ol is charming and fun, but I'm still grateful that the little brother gets to hang out instead of being kicked to the curb. T is making the dinner the kids will soon eat.
After a delicious breakfast T brought to me in bed and a latte drunk from the Pollock-inspired mug Ol made me in his art class, I took the kids to the farmers market. We saw friends, loaded up on several varieties of cherry tomatoes and the kids devoured a pizza and a mango lassi. They wanted so much more, but I bought myself a young Meyer lemon tree instead and boogied us home.
We had lunch with my in-laws, and after, while the kids played and the men talked, she and I cleaned and caught up. The women so often end up in the kitchen, don't they.
I am in my reading chair with my door shut because while it's been an absolutely lovely mother's day, it is now Emily time. Quiet alone time in which I shut my duty light off and forward all requests to Dad. In which I remove the hat I wear every other day and let my shoulders sink and my breaths deepen.
For me, this is the essence of Mother's Day. Yes, it is about being with the boys, talking to my mother, mother-in-law, aunt and sister, celebrating and being celebrated. But it is also about being given a brief reprieve from the minutiae of daily mothering; from being on at every moment; from being the go-to for everything. It is about being appreciated for all that by getting a break from it.
It is, isn't it, a mother's day.
I think that's an important message, to send and to receive. By asserting that some solitude is one thing I really want each and every Mother's Day, I am showing the boys that mothers are people who have children but are also individuals with interests and passions and needs wholly distinct from the beings that provided the Mom label in the first place.
In some sense too, I think shaping this day in the ways I want versus the rosy, Lifetime-channel gloss it's often shellacked with by society is a way of pushing back just a bit on the pressure too many women shoulder to love and feel wildly fulfilled by motherhood at all times. That's just not realistic for most mothers. Sometimes, all we want is some space away from our children, some time to not mediate or manage, look or acknowledge.
We want, simply, to tend to ourselves in undistracted fashion. I think that is a marvelous thing to honor.
I love my children with a joyful ferocity, but I think it is always worth understanding and acknowledging that, like most things, motherhood is complex. It is really hard and it is constant, and the gloss of perfect that is too often painted atop the enterprise can cause Moms who find its depths infinitely more variegated to feel isolated or lacking. They end up like icebergs frozen in place in an unmoving sea.
If, however, we acknowledge the murky depths as well as the glossy surface, the ice cracks, allowing us to move toward each other once more and repair the connections that will strengthen us, and by extension our kids, all. When I am in a pit and text a friend, I feel better. When she texts me back with words of understanding, commiseration and/or support, I lighten even more. We all need each other, but to really know one another, you have to dive deep.
I chose to have children, and I am lucky to have such a good relationship with them as well as with my own mother and mother-in-law. Not all women can or choose to have children, not every women has happy memories of her mother. Some women who made the same choice I did are having an awfully hard time of it.
On this day, keep in mind the total validity and worth of those who choose not to have children and also those who do and are struggling. Keep in mind those for whom today is hard, for reasons in the past or the present. If your mother is amazing, please celebrate her. Also remember that you've likely been mothered by a number of others- aunts, mentors, friends, siblings- and if they are great, celebrate them too.
Here's hoping that your hearts feel full today, and that you got to spend it in just the ways you wanted. I did, and that is the best kind of mother's day I could wish for.