The Mother’s Day That Didn’t Happen, and the One That Did

Happy Mother’s Day to all you goddesses out there! Here’s a little something I wrote last year when my Husband was on a business trip for the entire week of Mother’s Day. Rereading this was a glad reminder that as hard as it gets, Five-and-Two is effortless compared to Four-and-One. If you’re in the thick of it, one of those ambitious mothers who had two or three in a row to get all the diapers out of the way at once, it will get easier! May your day be simple and blessed with what is most precious and nourishing to you.

May 8, 2011

Well, I didn’t get enough sleep last night, that’s for sure, and I certainly didn’t get to sleep in. It was already 11 p.m. when I finally got the house pieced back together last night, and although my fourteen-month old only woke up to nurse twice—and the cat only once insisted on being let out—my toddler believes, like many roosters, that sunup should be the beginning of everyone’s day. And since my DH is still in Dusseldorf, there was no one else to take the baby.

In retrospect, those sacred morning moments alone with my daughter were some of the most peaceful of my day. Because as soon as my four-year old son made his appearance, she screamed in complete disapproval, and immediately made a bid for the entire occupation of my lap at the top of her lungs.

This continued, continuously, all morning.

I think people kept trying to call me and wish me a Happy Mother’s Day, but I experienced this as the insistent dinging of the phone from the other room while trying to spoon unsatisfactory oatmeal into the my daughter and simultaneously reach the water for my son (who’d said, smiling, “Mom, I feel sad when I look into my still empty cup and I’ve already asked for water!”)

I was in charge of making breakfast on Mother’s Day. And I have to say I made a fine job of it. I even got a rare compliment from my son, who said, “You know, I eat at this restaurant every day, and the food is always good!” Personally, I don’t know how the food tasted. By the time I had finished putting it on the table—interrupting the process to nurse my daughter again, who made a good show of being totally desperate in spite of a full sippy cup of perfectly milky cow’s milk—she had finished throwing her food around, wanted out of her chair…and wanted me out of mine.

It’s not very restful to try to eat your grapefruit when your toddler is gripping your pant leg and caterwauling. So I settled for reheating my tea about 23 times over the course of the morning, always hopeful that I might be able to drink it while actually hot.

My son had already logged in his worst day on this trip, with seven (count them!) temper tantrums on Monday, and by this point in the week was actually doing his four-year old best to lick the hand he’d already bitten. But this boy still does NOT know how to cuddle. All elbows and fingernails, he draped himself over me for a book while the baby (finally) slept, mashing my abused mammaries with his shoulder and periodically shifting his entire weight onto my knees and ankles.

It made me want to crawl out of my skin. I suffered it, and finally convinced him that what he really wanted to do was be an audience for my “fashion show.” All I wanted to do was get dressed, feel mildly civilized, and have my body to myself. His enthusiasm for trying on my bathing suit and flinging clothes around the bedroom as I attempted to find something that would fit at the change of seasons inevitably woke his sister prematurely, and she wasn’t any happier than she’d been before to see him in my proximity. Half naked, with one child leaping around in the laundry piles and the other screaming to be picked up, I finally said to both children: “OUT, NOW! I am going to take five minutes to myself to get dressed, and then I will be available for both of you.” I deposited a mildly chastened boy and distraught baby in the kids’ room, then went back to my bedroom, shut the door, and LOCKED it. Just for five minutes.

I did feel better with clean teeth. I even managed earrings before the five-minute buzzer went off. After all, it was Mother’s Day. Presumably someone might take a photograph of me at some point during the day.

My toddler’s mood did not improve. Going on five or six days of wanting to nurse only (no solid food) and crying all the time was unusual for her. I was on the phone with Kaiser when someone knocked on the door.

Now, I can’t always count on my DH to remember the flowers. He works hard, bless him, but he’s in Dusseldorf. It isn’t even Mother’s Day there. So earlier in the week I had gone into the garden and cut myself a spectacular bouquet (also from my husband, who keeps us in gardening money)…I’ve learned over the years that if you really want something, best put it in your own stocking.

So I’m on the phone, trying to hear what the nurse thinks might be wrong with the toddler screaming in my ear, and I know what’s at the door, but I’m trying to find my phone so I don’t lose the Blue Tooth connection when I move to the foyer…in all, it’s just a little bit of a stretch to lose myself in that radiant awe that falls over you when you get flowers from the one you love.

It didn’t matter. As we brought the flowers into the kitchen, and read the card from my husband together, my son and I both shared in the balm of being completely adored, appreciated and remembered. I told him, “I’ll have to thank your father when he calls,” and he said fervently, “ME TOO!” The card went into my pocket, and changed our whole day.

That, and the fact that I hung up on Kaiser, went into the nursery, and—I’m not ashamed to say—medicated my baby!

After that, things improved a bit. We went to my sister-in-law’s to watch the Giants beat the Rockies, my daughter actually took a sufficient nap, rice and asparagus and salmon all over somebody else’s floor was actually somewhat amusing, and the crowning glory of the day was a late afternoon hike up in the Oakland hills. So windy my daughter kept getting blown over, which inspired my son to run over to her protectively and say, “We’re stronger than the wind!”

We ran after each other on that grassy hilltop, with all the glorious Bay spread out at our feet. Descending from the windy summit into the spring sunshine felt like getting into a warm car after an early morning swim. We walked from garden to garden, smelling jasmine and roses, and at one point I put my arms around my son and said, “Thank you for a wonderful Mother’s Day!” And my daughter did not object to this overt display of affection for her sibling, instead delighted in the kisses I bestowed on her own forehead, asking for “More! More! More!” until her brother came and whispered in my ear, “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom,” and we drove home together, peaceful and sated.

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3 thoughts on “The Mother’s Day That Didn’t Happen, and the One That Did

  1. Pingback: Happy Mother’s Day Letter « newfoundlandtraveller

  2. Oh my goodness, this brought me back to the days of crying, no sleep, going crazy for just a moments peace, and never eating or drinking anything hot. “All I wanted to do was get dressed, feel mildly civilized, and have my body to myself.” – that sentence sums up how I felt during the first year to a year and a half after the arrival of my second child. I am at a newly 6 and a newly 4 age stage and it is sooo much better! 🙂
    Hope you had a Happy Mother’s Day.

    • Oh, to have my youngest be four, the one who just learned (from her older brother) the power of the extended NOOOOOOOOOO! And yet, I treasure her smallness too, and know I will miss it, as exasperating as she can be at times. Hope your Mother’s Day was wonderful!

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