How was your Mother’s Day?
Mine was sunny and warm. Freshly picked lilacs filled the kitchen with my favorite smell. I received funny and heart-felt cards from both kids and Tim, my husband.
The family had asked what I wanted several times leading up to the big day. I hemmed and hawed.
Several pieces on the internet referenced women really just wanting to be left to use the bathroom alone.
A piece in Salon heralded non-mothers and chastised any who claimed it as a virtue, calling it the “cult of motherhood.”
Motherhood to me is both a crushing burden and a weightless joy. I’m not unaware that many choose not to experience it for themselves and that many want it desperately and are denied.
It’s been said that having a child is to feel your heart walking around outside your body, but that doesn’t quite capture it for me.
It’s more like having your heart stomped on, thrown down the stairs, and then when you least expect it, dipped in chocolate and rolled in fairy dust.
Motherhood is an awful paradox. We see toddler cheeks in the faces of our adult kids, yet are denied the full memory of their physical weight in our arms.
We want desperately to be left alone for one minute—I used to say I was going grocery shopping, then I’d park under a tree with a magazine and an iced tea—then we cry the first time one of them doesn’t return home for a holiday.
And it’s never really over.
Not all mothers feel this way, and not all moms are saints. I’m certainly not.
I’m lucky to still have my mom who made me believe I was smart and beautiful. She taught me to never give up and made me feel someone was always in my corner. She still does.
I had a lot to be thankful for yesterday, as far as moms go. I’m friends with some terrific moms, and both of my sisters are great at the job.
I have my big sister, whose gorgeous, loving, hardworking kids first gave me the awesome job of “Aunt.” She taught me how to get my firstborn to sleep and taught me to trust that no one knows my kids as well as I do.
I have a younger sister with a creative, funny brood of three, who makes me believe my parenting experience is worth sharing.
Most importantly, I have my husband and two healthy, witty, loving, hilarious, and challenging children who support me, my writing, and try not to complain too much about my singing.
They are good. They are generous. They make me proud. They make me fear that the world isn’t good enough for them. I always knew I’d be a mother. I just didn’t know we’d all be such a good fit—most of the time.
Shortly before the big day, I decided to tell them exactly what I wanted. I wanted two donuts—one glazed, one chocolate—and a strawberry milk for breakfast.
Then, I wanted to go on a hike in the forest preserve with my husband. Next, I wanted two or three hours alone to write.
All of that happened in exactly that order. Amazing!
Later, all four of us plus my new son-in-law went to see Captain America: Civil War in the big reclining seats at the mall. Every year, the latest superhero movie is released suspiciously close to Mother’s Day.
I like these movies but in the past they weren’t my first choice. There was a twinge of resentment that it was my special day, and I was sharing it with The Hulk or Batman.
But in the strange way of traditions, it’s become something I look forward to. It was a given that we’d make it our family movie this weekend.
By nightfall, we were well-fed and relaxed. I opened gifts (liquor and bubble bath . . . awesome together or separately), and we shared texts and phone calls with those far away.
My mom did not have a great mother, but she became one. I had a great mom, and I worked very hard and consciously to follow most of her examples.
Not every woman wants to be a mother. Not every woman gets to be a mother.
I certainly don’t feel like I joined a cult, even if I didn’t think of becoming a mother as a deliberate choice. My path seemed clear. I would raise a family. Biology cooperated.
Yesterday was a great day . . . the weightless joy kind of day and I wouldn’t change a thing.