I was awake but lying in bed when my 11-year-old son bounded in, gave me a hug, and said, “Happy Mother’s Day!” He immediately followed that with, “Dad told me to come in and tell you.”
That pretty much set the course for the rest of the day.
When my 14-year-old daughter eventually deigned to come downstairs — after Aaron had made me breakfast — she wished me a casual Happy Mother’s Day and walked away without giving me a hug. She’s not a hugger, but she knows I am.
After needling Doran to help make breakfast, Aaron told him, “This isn’t Wives’ Day!”
Aaron made all three of my meals, did the dishes, gave me a gift, ferried the kids to their activities, and did a CostCo and grocery store run.
Doran gave me my gift on Friday; he couldn’t wait until Sunday. He made it in school, but I use the word “made” loosely. The teacher took his photo, and the adjacent frame has printed words that describe mothers (rather than having the kids come up with their own). The frame is made out of popsicle sticks. All Doran did was put the sticks together, color them, and write “You rock! Happy Mother’s Day!”
Samara made me a pretty watercolor card, which she made Sunday morning. That afternoon, she made me (by her own admission) a creepy cat picture and a watercolor laminated bookmark.
All this is to say I’m not ungrateful. I just wish the kids had put forth more thought and effort into appreciating me and all that I do for them. Before bed, Aaron asked how my Mother’s Day was. I told him it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. He nodded, unsurprised by my assessment. He told the kids that next year they’re taking the lead. They’re old enough, and they know better.
But do they really know all that I do for them? This week alone, in addition to my freelance journalist work and my own shit, I have to:
Plan this week’s meals
Go to the grocery store to get food for said meals
Drive a carpool to middle school 3 times
Take Doran to/from his back-to-back music lessons
Go to Doran’s Open House
Take Samara to/from her cello lesson
Take Samara to/from her viola lesson (which I had to schedule)
Drive Doran to Hebrew school
Get Samara two new strings for her viola
Return a dress for Samara
Go to the library to return an overdue movie for Samara
Possibly pick her up at school after quartet rehearsal
Take Doran to/from his Red Cross Babysitting all-day class
Do the dishes (because husband won’t be joining us for dinner for half of the week)
Make sure both kids do their chores (in other words, needling them incessantly)
Make sure Doran practices his instruments
Make sure they’re on time for school
Monitor Doran’s screen time (because he’ll become a zombie otherwise)
Intervene in any sibling fights
Make sure they’re in bed on time (in other words, nag them repeatedly to shower & get upstairs before it’s too late)
Straighten/clean the house/get on their cases for putting things away
I’m sure there’s more, but you get the idea. And this list doesn’t include the other part of being a mom: Providing a steady loving presence and listening ears, yada yada yada. Of course I’m able to do most of this because I work from home — which I mainly do because of them. A list for a mom with a child who has special needs would be even longer and tough to detail. My mom, for example, drove me to Children’s Hospital in the city of Buffalo from our house in the suburbs every day for four years just so I could have a one-hour speech-language session. She worked tirelessly with me and my sister — both of us born profoundly deaf — to teach us to lipread, talk, and catch up to our peers on all levels. She went back to work as a (paid) teacher when I was about 12 and then her life was much crazier. She remembers those days being endless.
I know I’m not alone in feeling ignored; it’s a universal fact that we moms are under appreciated. I know I certainly appreciate mine more now. And it shouldn’t take Mother’s Day for our kids to step up, but I don’t want to have to wait until they’re adults either. Gone are the days in which their schools take the lead in having them make gifts or write a fill-in-the-blank sheet on what they know about their mom. They’re both creative enough on their own; I recall past gifts like a coupon book for hugs, cleaning, etc.
Lest you think I’m all about complaining, I know how lucky I am to be a mom. I love my kids and can’t imagine my life without them. When I return from a trip, I can tell they’ve missed me. But it shouldn’t take an absence, a Hallmark holiday, or even a reminder that life is too short to really show and tell our moms how much we love and appreciate them. But we all need occasional reminders, so when that Hallmark holiday comes along, for the love of God would you please oblige?