I must confess. Mother's Day is not a favorite of mine. Not because I'm forgotten...the opposite. My kids are wonderful to me. Mr. "Grumpy Pants" always makes the comment, "you're not my mother..." but manages to make sure I don't do anything more than necessary that day.
When I was small, we gathered at my grandmother's house for lunch. Everyone brought something (I had 3 aunts who were amazing cooks, besides my own mother) so there was plenty to eat. I had fifteen cousins and we all lived in the same small town, so when you added the grown-ups, we filled the house. The kids played outside in the backyard, which consisted of rolling grassy hills and large cherry trees we liked to climb in our Sunday clothes. I don't ever remember a Mother's Day that it rained. Sunshine blanketed us and the perfume of flowers blooming everywhere, filled the air.
Then Grandma died, dissolving several of the holiday traditions. Granted, my mom and aunts tried to carry on traditions, but as we grew older, married, and had our own families, "getting together" as a mass soon dwindled to our own family units. The "magic" of my youth slowly faded.
When my mother had her stroke, the burden to carry on the tradition fell to my shoulders, as the only daughter. I tried for several years to make it work, but as my children entered their teens, life got complicated. I worked full time, the kids schedules were hectic, and time became a precious commodity. But my mother, bless her, remained locked in a timeless world and guilt seemed to keep me trying to do the impossible.
Finally, unfortunately because I'd reached the end of a fraying rope with my youngest, I put my foot down. First tradition stopped, and by far the most unpopular, I quit going to church on Mother's Day. I hated sitting there listening to someone speak of a "sugar and spice" world where a perfect mother existed, while my life was anything but that way. Instead of being uplifted and inspired, I went home depressed, questioning my parenting skills, but holding a potted plant.
Second, I stopped making the big meal. Too much work and without anyone to really help, a long day for me. Now, it's dinner at Chuck-A-Rama. I know its not the fanciest, best eatery in town, but everyone gets to eat what they want, how much they want, and immediately, which is important when dealing with little ones. Plus I love their rolls. Afterwards, I bid everyone farewell in the parking lot and go home...alone.
My children, those who live nearby, are fine with my version of Mother's Day. They're especially grateful I don't make them go to church! My mother still tries to inflict the guilt every year, but so far, God's been pretty understanding. I do wear rubber soled shoes all day, just in case.
Still, if I had my choice, I'd do away with all the hoopla. I ban presents. Cards are acceptable, but mainly, I just enjoy getting together and having a meal with my kids where someone else cooks and cleans up. No pressure, no hassle, and no guilt. Of course, my day isn't complete without a melancholy walk down memory lane to a simpler time when the sun kissed freckles on my nose instead of age spots on my arms, and spinning beneath the cherry trees in my fancy dress and shoes, wouldn't result in a broken hip or a knee replacement.
If I had to do it all again, would I choose motherhood? Put up with sick, colicky babies who grew into petulant teenagers that managed to summon trouble whenever they were awake? You bet. Granted, there are a few moments I'd love to have my "do-over" with, but as the sands in my hourglass sift faster, I don't regret my choice. My four kids rock my world. They keep me grounded and sane. Despite our battles, we've all become best friends. Now, I get to sit back and watch them parent their own offspring. Hopefully, they learned from my mistakes, and even if they don't think so, they're going to make their own. One day, they'll watch from my vantage point.
To all the mothers out there, and that includes godmothers, aunts, sisters, next-door neighbors...any woman who has an influence in a child's life, I wish you a wonderful, guilt-free, and relaxing day. And may there be chocolate close by! Happy Mother's Day!