Photo: My Three Ursae (The Husband has so named himself “Ursa Gargantua.” Also, readers who know Latin, I did that right, right? Ursae is the plural of Ursa? Anyway….) send me a beautiful bouquet of flowers for Mother’s Day. It arrived yesterday and I was delightfully surprised. Next to it is a box from my Mom and Step-Father from Sur La Table, which is a big deal because I’ve never shopped at Sur La Table before because it’s usually outside of my price range. It isn’t a heavy box, but it’s big… I think it might be for the grill? Mom won’t let me open it until Sunday. Because I’m fairly sure I’m a direct descendant of Pandora, I told my husband to hide it from me. Sooooo you’ll find out what it is on Monday!
There are so many things to write on this Friday before Mother’s Day. Longtime readers will know that I have misgivings about this holiday. I mean, really… what is Mother’s Day to the mother of young children? It’s another day on the job, plus extra, because well-meaning husbands and babies end up doing stuff that inevitably add to whatever duties you already have for your day. If you’re lucky, your husband can read the tea leaves and get the kids out of your hair for an hour… but if you’re unlucky, not only are you doing everything with your kids all day, you’re also shuttling them to the grandma’s, who are the actual people who are celebrated on Mother’s Day. The Mothers Emeritus. Those who mother in a different capacity.
It was all so very clear at today’s Mother’s Tea. All of us mothers of the preschoolers filling up plates of goodies for demanding children while grandmothers, in fine clothes with delighted smiles, sat merrily and looked at the artwork. We mothers, doing what we do, tried to hold conversations with friends while our children dragged us from demand to demand. Grandmothers regaled us with stories of times gone by: raising three boys without the internet.
In the end, when it was all over, I said to a mom friend as we were departing, “Hey, Happy Mother’s Day!”
As her child pulled her away, she said, “Oh, right. Yeah, Happy Mother’s Day.”
And then there was a ripple of it that went out across the other women being pulled in different directions. Right, that’s what we were here for! Happy Mother’s Day!
The Mother’s and Grandmother’s Tea had nothing to do with us and everything to do with them, as with all things. That’s just how it is.
I have been thinking about this post all week, knowing that I was going to have to write something and trying my best not to write yet another bitchy post about how hard motherhood is. It has its rewards, and I’m starting to reap them, but the boys are changing and so are the challenges. For example, here I am writing a blog post after dinner instead of during nap time. A permanent change that has had profound consequences for how I see my days now. The little boys have graduated from screaming to whining, a sound worse than a class-full of fingernails on a chalkboard. I have just about lost it a few times after hearing Major start up his “Whhhyyy?” in that voice that only a 4 year-old can make. I swear there must be a scientific reason why it is utterly grating on the ears.
But there is joy and surprise. All the little boys want to do is be outside in the sunshine, running from this thing to that, ripping and racing up and down our hill on their “motorcycles.” They challenge themselves, figuring out how to make sharp turns without flipping (note to self: the boys really need helmets), putting things on their motorcycles and then trying to get down the hell without spilling… And what I love most about the world outside out our window is that when the boys see it, they see it with four eyes instead of two: they both explore together, they discover together, they are fearless together. And when they manage not to fight over whatever the discovery is, they have moments that are profound and beautiful. There is nothing more perfect for me right now than to watch one boy see something, beckon the other one over, and then watch them marvel at that something for a while. Not just a short amount of time, but a good long time. And they’ll talk to each other about the thing. What is it? What color is it? What is it doing? Where is it going? Can they pick it up? Does it tickle? Can they smoosh it? ewww…
And they have learned that they don’t (generally) need me to facilitate that exploration. That has only been bad a few times when they’ve managed to find glass or something in the back yard. Lordy.
By virtue of being boys and of being so close in age, the boys are like their own walking amplifiers. When one is happy, so is the other. When one is upset, so is the other. When whining is called for, they must whine in stereo. So my weeks are… exhausting. Since we are still in a time when we’re together all the time because school is so infrequent and because we don’t get a lot of babysitting…. I’m currently playing motherhood on hard mode.
I know that I am lucky. I don’t write it enough. I have two healthy boys who are clever and interesting. Their pushback and whining has everything to do with their intelligence and their strong sense of self, and I should celebrate that instead of becoming instantly infuriated. My boys are well cared for…. we worked hard to get here, and ya’ll know that, but still, I know that we’re lucky. We’re incredibly blessed, and I shouldn’t complain so much. It wasn’t easily gained, we have worked hard for every single thing we have, and yet still, I know that we are profoundly lucky and blessed.
So I am going into Mother’s Day feeling… exhausted but hungry for more. We are still here. We are still growing. We are still learning. They are still wonderful. They are still challenging. There are things that I wish I could do differently, but I am proud of how far we’ve come. I understand that Mother’s Day has nothing to do with me and everything to do with these two little boys who drive me so damn crazy.
And you, dear reader… so many of you are mothers (one of you is a mother of nine!) and while many more of you are not. But you are daughters or sons or aunts or godparents or… whatever. I celebrate you all. I’m grateful for your presence. To you wonderful folk who are far away and doing amazing things, those who are closer to home and keeping it real, and to ya’ll who have always been with me, I’m grateful for you. Thank you for helping me love where I live, which I am learning has larger implications that the physical space I occupy.
On this Friday, I wish you a good morning. I wish you a “good morning,” said with sincerity by someone you encounter this weekend. I wish you birdsong that wakes you, greets you, and uplifts you. I wish you a good breakfast, made by loving hands (or little hands with adult supervision), served with a side of quiet (eventually). I wish you good advice, given by a person you respect and admire, that pushes you forward into a new and glorious day. I wish you tea with floral notes, brewed with subtlety and skill, coffee served hot, deep and smokey, or a mimosa, bright and bubbly, joyful on your tongue. Either way, I wish you the warmth of knowing that you are loved and admired, near and far, with sincerity and thoughtfulness.
Until Monday, Happy Mother’s Day, and take care.
Hawaiian Rolls. You want this. You need this. It’s not hard to do! Do it.