Monday, May 12, 2008

The Morning After

I woke up this morning sad and despondent. I shuffled my feet into my worn, pink fluffy slipper socks, grabbed my winter bathrobe and headed for the coffee maker. It’s 5:45 a.m. It’s cold out. It’s windy. Worse than all that; it’s no longer Mother’s Day.

I look forward to Mother’s Day more than my birthday. It has to be the best holiday by far: no Thanksgiving food-prep stress, no Christmas money-sucking-present-buying stress, no Easter-grass-all-over-the-floor stress. Mother’s Day is all about ME. Not even my birthday is all about me.

I’ll admit that I wring every single minute out of Mother’s Day. From 12:00 a.m. Sunday morning until 12:00 p.m. Sunday night I am off the clock. I am demanding. I am selfish, greedy, impatient and do what I want. In fact, I act exactly like my children. No wonder it’s difficult to change their behavior. Being selfish and doing whatever you want feels really really good.

On Mother’s Day I do no chores. I clean nothing, put nothing away and get out what I want. I prepare no meals, feed no children, wipe no butts, and do not answer questions from my kids. Want a cupcake? Go ask your father. Need a roll of toilet paper? Better yell louder, he’s downstairs. Hungry? I have a vagina that pushed you out of it, I’m off duty—go find your other genetic half. The most important part of the day however, is the fact that I feel guilty about none of it.

My husband, bless his personality, allows this and indulges me. He does not harumf around, deep sigh at my requests or play martyr. He is helpful, accommodating, and patient. Upon going to bed Saturday night I say to him, “So if the baby gets up before midnight, I’ll get her, but if she gets up after midnight, you get her. How does that sound?” He knows it’s a rhetorical question. I’m not looking for an opinion or a renegotiation tactic. And he does get up with her. Three times between midnight and six a.m.

I sleep in. As much as you can sleep in when you know you have church at 10:00. I read my novel in bed while my children pile their homemade cards, bookmarks and yard-picked flowers on me. They watch me open their gifts with wide expectant eyes. “I love these tissue paper flowers!” I exclaim. “This poem bookmark is perfect for my novel!” I marvel. “Wow, I never knew macaroni could be so incredibly useful!” I admire. My daughter and son do my bidding from my bedroom. They follow each request up with a “Yes mom. Can I get you anything else?” Then march down the hall shouting, “Mom wants some coffee! She needs more sugar! Don’t forget the cream!” I have one of those surreal moments where the expectations in my head and the reality of my life converge for a few brief, breath-still seconds. I inhale deeply and smile.

I am served breakfast in bed. Eggs benedict, my favorite. My children eat along side me, tucked under the covers. It’s cute and I love them, but I’m especially looking forward to the part of the day when they leave me alone.

I spend the day gardening as is our usual Mother’s Day ritual. I rip the old fence out from my garden, plant my tomatoes. My husband makes me iced tea, which I sip in the weathered green Adirondack chair in the backyard. He’s got the baby on his hip, on his shoulders, under his arm. She’s fussy and moody. He’s barefoot and wearing an untucked t-shirt and as I look at him from the garden, I smile and think, “This iced tea could really use some more lemon.” The baby down for a nap, he heads to the grocery store for a few dinner items. “Hurry back,” I yell. “Before the baby wakes up and starts crying.” I’m not getting her. My day isn’t over yet.

The best gift you can give me for Mother’s Day (in addition to flowers for my yard or a new garden fence) is a day where I don’t have to be a mother. I want to remember what is was like when I was single, or at the very least childless, when I could do what I wanted, when I wanted. That person that existed before Mrs. Vidoni, or Mama, or Mom or Mother. What was her name again? That’s right…Rachel something. I know it’s ironic that a person would want to spend a holiday that celebrates the fact she has offspring, without her offspring. But as my daughter said to me once, “A dirty kid is a happy kid.” Well, similarly, an off-duty mom is a happy mom.

The day ends with my husband making steamed crab, pasta alfredo and various other delectable tidbits. There was an ice cold Sams Summer Ale in the fridge for me. He purchased a smorgasbord of desserts from a local bakery. He cleaned the kitchen and did all the dishes. We watched our Sunday evening shows together on the couch. I was happy like a tick on a fat dog and still had 2.35 hours of my Mother’s Day left. I suggested, “This day was so perfect. I think we should do Mother’s Day quarterly.” He gave a yeah-whatever chuckle. I continued. “I’m happy to do a Father’s Day quarterly as well,” thinking that this would be a good way to make the playing field level. Then I threw in the mother-ism zinger, “Didn’t you feel good about doing all those things today?” (Like when you tell your children, “Don’t you feel great that you studied for three hours? Doesn’t thoroughly cleaning the toilet give you a deep sense of accomplishment? Aren’t you proud of yourself for making the dog’s life better by cleaning up the poop in the yard?” Life is all about the spin.) My husband said, “You know, I didn’t mind any of it really. The part that’s frustrating is the baby. You only have short amounts of time to get something done. I barely could clean the kitchen before she needed something.”

I snuggled closer to him. He just gave me the best present yet: 24 hours in my shoes and affirmation.

Here’s a shout-out to my husband: Thanks for the great day! You rock!


brandie said...

Awww! Congrats on having such a wonderul spouse.

Lizzie said...

This was awesome. I genuinely cannot wait to have kids, but I will cherish each day I don't.

Miss ya!