Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother's Day...bah humbug

Mother's day cupcake     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!


L.L. Muir said...

My mom chose mother's day to tell us she had breast cancer. The day has sucked since then--pun intended.

But seriously, I've been a florist for 27 years. Nothing effs up a holiday like being on the wrong side of that counter...


Sandy L. Rowland said...

My husband used to say the same thing. He got over it. Now, he tries to make up for all the years when a card was too much for him to manage.

I don't love mother's day. the memories are painful. I prefer to mentally skip past them and on to the week. But my kids are worth it.

That's the only gift I want.

J. Coleman said...

Wow, I'm so sorry, Les, and I'm so glad my husband isn't the only stick-in-the-mud. Honestly, some days... Kids make a lot of things in life worth the hassle. Thanks!

Jewel's Gems said...

Mother's Day used to make me sad because my mother is gone and both my grandmothers are gone. But I'm grateful to be a mother, and though I fall short most of the time, I try to live my life in such a way that my mother and grandmothers can live on through me, and hopefully feel I am representing them well. I'm sure they look down and shake their heads a lot and think, "Lord, what in the world are we going to do with that girl?" :-)

Happy Mother's Day, Joelene!

Kerrigan Byrne said...

This was a fantastic post, Joelene. Mother's day can be bittersweet, and you really made me think about what traditions I miss in my own life and family. My grandparents were Irish immigrants and they were the glue that held their 8 children and (when they died at 87) 75 grand and great-grand children, together.

You remember the move "My big fat greek wedding"? My family was like that but with plaid and potatoes. I remember get together's as loud, chaotic, musical times where the 7 sisters and one brother would hang in the kitchen and sing surfer tunes from the 60's.

Since my Grandparents went in 2000, (after being married 62 years, they died within 10 months of each other) each family unit has done the inevitable and congregated to their own, getting together less and less. Also, there have been rifts of the religious kind (the converted Mormons vs. the traditional Irish Catholics, vs. the new generation agnostics, the lonly suicidal homosexual, and the one Episcopalian). No one seems to be able to rise above it, and things will never be the same. There are many holidays I miss that magical time we had, and Mother's day is definitely one of them.

Wendy S. Hales said...

I was a hell bent, out of control eighteen year old headed for self destruction. My life changed forever the minute my first child was placed in my arms.
On Mother's Day the only tradition I adhere to is a few moment of reflection on the fact that I gave them life but being their mother saved mine. I give thanks for my own mother, grandmothers (living and dead) the mother of my grandchildren and every woman whose influenced or inspired me as a mother.
Then I go to work.

J. Coleman said...

Oh my, 75 grandkids/great grandkids! What a tribute to your grandparents and hell on the furniture. Wish we could all practice "unconditional love" instead of preach it. Hugs to those of you who struggle with family rifts. I think my family actually has their own "faultline." Jewel, what little bit I know of you, you are an example I wished I measured up to. Wendy, I hear you. My daughter was speeding for the brick wall before my granddaughter changed her life. She's now an amazing mother. Must take after her father. Happy Mother's Day!

ladystef said...

Love this, Joelene. My mother's day's don't always live up to what's in my imagination, but I was born to be a mom. It was the one thing I always wanted to do. having ten may have been taking things a bit far, but I wouldn't change a thing. Happy Mother's Day to all of my dear writing friends.

Tiffinie Helmer said...

Nailed it, Joelene. I refuse to go to church too. My husband just asked me with that guilt-filled tone. I hate getting a potted plant that I will kill. It's my day, right? I want to sleep. I never sleep. I don't want to plan a big meal, let alone cook it. Worst, I don't want my husband cooking. He has to have help. I'm the help. I want a stress free day with my kids, maybe see a movie, or hanging in the backyard with pizza. And I don't want to have guilt from my own mother because I, as the oldest, didn't plan a big get-together. I'm looking forward to Monday. You know none of this happens on Father's Day.

Sandy B said...

Mother's Day--when your kids thank you for when you spent all night walking a colicky baby and all night in the E.R. with a teenager who thought it would be fun to skateboard down the steepest hill in town. It's also when they forgive you for the millions of things you did wrong and realize that some of those things weren't so wrong after all.

I don't care about the gifts -- flowers die, candy gets eaten -- but I do love the phone calls that end with "Love, you, Mom."

FIY thanksgiving is the pits of holidays -- cook, cook, cook, eat for 15 minutes, clean up for two hours after. Go to bed exhausted.

Calisa Rhose said...

I feel guilty for even saying anything but I'm going to say it anyway.

I love Mother's Day. I love knowing that I 'made' the very things the day celebrates. I applaud myself for being so creative and worthy of such wonderful gifts that are my three daughters, and through them, my four granddaughters.

Yesterday Mitch brought me a dozen red rose buds. I don't care for flowers as a rule, and rarely ever roses (I'm a carnation girl). But in giving me flowers he enabled me to gift my youngest daughter and two of the four granddaughters with one for each of them. My daughter followed my gesture with "How did you train Daddy to be so romantic?"
My only reply was that is how he came to me.
She said "Then there's no hope for me..." It seems her hubby hadn't even given her a birthday present Thursday, much less Mother's Day.

I'm cherished by my hubs and my daughters/granddaughters-- but I miss my mom who passed 11 days before her 47th birthday in '84. Did I mention her birthday, which is youngest dd's also, is May 10th and often falls on Mother's Day?

I'm done rambling. Happy Mother's Day to all mother figures out there- whether you want it or not- you definitely deserve it.

J. Coleman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J. Coleman said...

Don't know how, but I deleted my own comment! Calisa, you are like a ray of sunshine spreading happy thoughts. My day ended up being lovely. Spent it with my two sons who live close, ate ribs at Texas Roadhouse until I was in pain, and spent a quiet night watching a movie on the Lifetime channel. Now, I'm back to editing. Thanks for stopping by, everyone.