Yesterday, as you know, was Mother's Day. I hope yours was fabulous. Mine was lovely - it started with a card and a carefully rehearsed "Happy Mommy's Day" from Jack, then moved on to brunch at the Four Seasons, and ended with a nice trip to the park as a family. John conceded that the brunch may have been as much a gift for him as it was for me, but it was nice to have the time together, and the fact that he planned ahead enough to secure a babysitter scored him bonus points. Of course, brunch was insanely overpriced (John did his best to make up for it by eating his weight in crab legs, but I couldn't help being horrified every time I saw a family of five walk to their table, knowing most of those kids would probably eat some french toast and a few strips of bacon), John had studying to do for most of the afternoon, and the day culminated in the world's longest tantrum involving the potty seat we purchased for Jackie (more on that later). Only three Mother's Days in, I can't help but wonder if the phrase "it's the thought that counts" may have been coined specifically for the one day a year solely devoted to mothers.
As a kid, Mother's Day for my mom meant breakfast in bed (I recall a tray and a bowl of cheerios...) and my dad taking us to the store to pick out gifts for our poor mom, who had more animal statuettes and bad jewelry than she knew what to do with. In her defense, she held onto my choice of a ceramic cat with a canary feather in its mouth far longer than I would have. I'm sure there were flowers and a card from my dad, and probably some homemade cards from the three of us, but that was the extent of it. After all, women are most often the planners in the household. We buy the presents and organize the parties. On a day where it's up to everyone else to recognize her, there's a good chance reality is going to fall short of what mom truly deserves for all her hard work.
I was getting my hair done the other day and I made the mistake of asking my hair dresser, who is efficient and reasonably priced but kind of a dirtbag, what he was doing for his wife for Mother's Day.
"The thing is, my wife and I are married, but..."
At this point I started having palpitations, thinking he was going to tell me they were separated.
..."she's my wife, not my mother. Why would I do anything for her on Mother's Day?"
That was sort of the end of that conversation. I mean, what could I say, really? And as disgusted as I was at first, the more I thought about it, the more I wondered if maybe I had it all wrong - that maybe husbands shouldn't be expected to do anything for their wives for Mother's Day. Maybe we should all be focusing on our moms more. (Or maybe someone needs to declare an official Wife's Day so there's no more confusion, hmmm?)
Of course, John and I live across the country from our moms, and Jack is two (he did come home from preschool with a red heart-shaped box containing a puff of pink tissue containing a bunch of dirt, which I wasn't prepared for and therefore spilled all over the carpet - I assume there was a seed in there somewhere?). And how would we show our mothers how much they mean to us, even if they did live closer? At brunch, the two tables next to ours consisted of middle-aged men, presumably single, and their elderly mothers. They hardly spoke at all (the sons were up getting food most of the time, leaving the poor mothers alone to break my heart with their plates full of mini desserts that they barely touched - although the woman next to me was really living it up with her two cappuccinos). Does a yearly brunch make Mom feel any more appreciated for everything she does on a daily basis? At $100 a person, maybe, but I doubt it.
The truth is, just like any other holiday devoted to recognizing someone, there's only so much you can say and do in a single day. It's the other 364 days a year that really prove what someone means to us (and don't worry, honey - you do an amazing job of making me feel loved and appreciated year-round). I hope my mom knows how much she means to me, even if I may not always be around to show her. It wasn't until I became a mom myself that I could fully appreciate everything she sacrificed for us (and I don't think I'll ever understand how she managed to raise triplets AND maintain her sanity - well, most of it, anyway). Sorry about all the lousy presents, Mom. And just in case it isn't the thought that counts, I'm making it official here and now: I love you so much. Thank you for everything.