This needed to be reprinted. Originally published in Chicago Parent.
Yay, it's May, which brings Mother's Day. A Hallmark day I need to give up on. We don't do Mother's Day well at my house-that flowery, sentimental day wilts in my hardware-store world.
I used to think it's the boy thing. All boys here: no one to shoulder the holiday, to organize the 7 a.m. breakfast-in-bed-thing that I championed so well as the middle child and only girl growing up. I go to 7 a.m. hockey games for my boys on Mother's Day. I remember one where we mothers all watched our boys check the heck out of each other as if it was a Saturday night fight. My son's teammate scored a goal and the boy's mom screamed with delight, "He said he'd score for me today for Mother's Day!"
"Is it Mother's Day?" I asked.
The skater gave his mom the puck outside the locker room after the game. It was a Kodak moment.
My problem is that I am always in charge. I see this. I need to change. I'm tough, I'm organized. I tell them all what to do. But in truth, I do everything. I'm the only one who knows what's going on. I've made damn sure of that.
My Irish mother, who would still make hot breakfast for my 50-year-old brothers if she were alive, professionally trained me. I was trained to take the broken piece of pie, to pick up dirty laundry off the floor and complain about it while I'm doing it. Trained to cry instead of yell. Guilt is a jackhammer. Yet I was also trained to take the blame.
I've diagnosed myself with a sort of chronic motherhood coma. A state of doing, doing, doing … nagging, nagging, nagging … and not feeling, feeling, feeling...
I have been satisfied, Mother's Days past, when I had a child throwing up on me. Good ones also included a visit to the emergency room with a screaming, ear-infected toddler. These were wonderful Mother's Days because on Monday, when other moms flashed new jewelry or watered their pretty flowers or described the half-cooked pancakes in bed, I'd explain that my plans had been ruined by a sick child. Then I'd get the attention and sympathy I needed.
I need to check in with my Buddhist friend because if the reincarnation thing is true, I need to know exactly what state I am in. Certainly, this is not near Nirvana.
So this year is going to be different. I am shedding skin like Greenie the lizard, the boy "pet" for whom I routinely pick up live crickets and mealworms. I bought some pink geraniums to pot. I have gently told the boys every day this week: "SUNDAY IS MOTHER'S DAY. GET A CARD BEFORE SUNDAY MORNING. GET A RIDE TO HOCKEY."
I will be busy in the backyard planting.