I gave birth to my first child two days before Mother’s Day 2004. I was still in the hospital recovering from a C-section after 48 hours of labor with my wee 11-pound, 24-inch-long firstborn. The emotional and physical tolls were evident. My swollen legs were the size of two mature oak trees. Lack of sleep and raging hormones resulted in some orange Jell-O getting flung at my husband, Joe. And every time I waddled down to see Daniel (born with a pneumothorax), I discovered visitors making fun of my giant-sized baby. When the hospital handed me a schmaltzy card celebrating “my special day,” I told them exactly where they could shove it.
I wasn’t exactly the Hallmark image of glowing new motherhood.
For my second Mother’s Day, I was six months pregnant. Joe, Daniel and I headed out for brunch at a fancy downtown restaurant. Within minutes of our food arriving, Daniel started to choke. Joe quickly leapt to his feet and performed a masterful Baby Heimlich Maneuver. The end result? The full contents of Daniel’s stomach landed directly on my Eggs Benedict.
By the time I arrived at my sixth Mother’s Day, the writing was on the wall. Plague, pestilence, and famine were bound to find me. That was the year I decided to take matters into my own hands.
I decided to hang out at a local bookstore for the day.
My husband was appalled.
“Don’t you want to spend Mother’s Day with the kids?” he questioned incredulously.
“I spend EVERY day with the kids,” I responded. “Today, I just want a day off.”
Over the last few years, I have taken my own mom out to brunch, gone shopping with girlfriends, and sat blissfully alone in a theater eating popcorn I wasn’t required to share. And every year, I return refreshed and more in love with my husband and children than ever.
The founder of Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis, spent much of her life protesting the rampant commercialization of the holiday she created. Flowers, cards, and candy were never her intent, but rather a day devoted to honoring the person who molds you like no other.
I can’t help but think Ms. Jarvis would want the women who shoulder such immense responsibility to be well-rested and full of fresh popcorn.
And if my husband is reading, a back massage would be nice, too.
Happy Mother’s Day, Chicago Parent readers!