Several years ago, I woke up on Mother’s Day to the smell of French Toast. Which is my favorite food. Well, one of my favorite foods. I was getting breakfast in bed on the day meant to celebrate me. I had peeked at Facebook. Moms in my newsfeed were getting breakfast, flowers, mugs, homemade cards, Hallmark cards, jewelry, chocolate, and handprint crafts. Little prints turned into flowers and butterflies and so many Pinterest things. I waited for the breakfast. That French Toast was going to be my first surprise of the day. I just knew this was my year to be spoiled and appreciated.
Then, I heard Dave snoring. I don’t know what I smelled, but there was no breakfast. I had a husband who had fallen asleep while working on a project for his job. A sink full of dirty dishes. Laundry. Toys. And since I had been trolling Facebook all morning, we were now going to be late for church. I was unshowered. In more ways than one. I crawled back into bed and cried. I was the only mom not getting anything. I just knew it. I cried until the last possible moment that I could still get us up and out the door and still embarrassingly late.
No “Happy Mother’s Day!” greetings for me. I shook my husband awake. We threw ourselves together and rushed out the door and I was seething. “Are your allergies bothering you? Your eyes look weird.” Yes, my eyes look horrible. The whole of me looks horrible. So glad I get to look pretty on ‘my day’ of all days. On the way to church didn’t seem like the appropriate time to discuss the failed morning. So, I did the adult thing. “You didn’t even make me French Toast! Every other mom gets a freaking parade and I get nothing.”
I will leave to your imagination the other brilliant things I said on that short ride to worship our Savior. The highlights: I am not appreciated, you think I’m a bad mom, I do sweet crap on Father’s Day, and I have nothing to post on Facebook about my morning. Obviously, I was being a rational person about this, so Dave’s response was totally in love. “I’m glad I didn’t do anything. You don’t need breakfast. You need to think really hard about not being a jerk.” This is the stuff marriage books are made of. We were winning at life.
We never resolved it. We gave gifts to our moms. Ate with them. I gave gifts to my sisters-in-law. We moms posted Facebook messages for one another and tagged one another. Graham made something at church…there was a coffee filter involved. I somehow made my Mother’s Day on social media look decent. Dave, who is rarely even on, didn’t post anything. No “My wife is an awesome mom and I want to thank her for blah blah blah.” I went to bed crying more than I had that morning. And since we had been gone the entire day, my house was still trashed.
The next year, I decided to release Dave from all of it. The over-the-top-craziness of a holiday that I just couldn’t handle. I didn’t even tell Dave he was released. I just did it. He had spent an entire year, minus that second Sunday in May, thanking me for mothering his children. He had cooked me breakfast on so many Saturdays. He had brought home movies he knew I wanted. Downloaded albums and books he knew I would like. Cleaned our house. Cared for our kids. Sent me sweet/hilarious/thoughtful/ornery texts and emails with inside jokes only we get. I knew it was time for me to break up with Mother’s Day. At least how I had known it.
I awoke Sunday morning to Dave making me an iced coffee drink. He was ready for church. I got ready. We got the kids ready. “Hey, do you want a picture with the kids?” Yes. I did want a picture with the kids. I had bought myself some jewelry from a local swap page. Just a couple of fashion rings. $5 nothings. Graham and Adelaide ‘gave’ them to me. Graham thought it was funny. I couldn’t stop laughing at his giggles.
I smiled the whole way to church. It was my first Mother’s Day with two kids. I sipped my drink. Looked down at one of my rings. “Happy Mother’s Day. I was going to buy you a card, but they were all worthless. They were about how horrible I am as a husband and how you are way too good for our family. I refuse to fuel the self-deprecation commercialization machine.” I laughed so hard I cried. Pretty tears this year. We had a wonderful Mother’s Day celebrating our moms. Gifts, cards, Facebook posts. We returned to a messy house that night and I crawled into bed realizing it had been my best Mother’s Day to date.
Mother’s Day isn’t evil. So many moms are able to handle the day and its splendor. I am just not one of them. I cannot do it. It’s better for my family when I realize it is just another day to be loved in the same way I am always loved. Dave has continued to spend the year loving me and serving me and surprising me with more than could ever be squeezed into a day. I still enjoy seeing everyone’s gifts and meals and handprint crafts. And I love the pictures of moms with their kids all dressed up. I love when families celebrate moms in a way that works for them…that’s what matters.
“What did you get for Mother’s Day?” That’s the question everyone asks at church. Lyndse The New Mom was always taken aback by this sucker-punch greeting. Scrambling for an answer that didn’t make it seem like I was unloved and unappreciated on this created holiday. Now, I just smile. And shuffle my crew along. I’m not cynical. I’m not anti-Mother’s Day. I’m just free. Free to wake up on that Sunday and just enjoy my day. Zero expectations. And lots of peace. And coffee. I guess I have one expectation. I love coffee.