“Is there anything you want for Mother’s Day?” my husband nicely asked me last week.
“Oh, please,” I responded. I may have rolled my eyes and responded with a snarky comment about wanting the stucco repaired on the outside of our house. Yeah, that might be the last time he asks me that question. I was disappointed with my reaction to him, but I couldn’t deny that my response was authentic.
I flashed back to last year: We enjoyed a fabulous brunch with the big family, but only after an entire week of major back-and-forth and what-shall-we-do and can-we-get-a-reservation-for-that-many-people drama.
You wanna know who was trying to coordinate it all? Me. Not the husband, not the kids, not anyone else involved. Because that’s what moms do. I have a love/hate relationship with Mother’s Day.
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And now another one is coming down the pipe quickly. Know what I say? Enough of this facade, tradition and expectation to create a scene where everyone is sitting around a table in floral dresses and sipping mimosas while children complain about not liking the way their eggs are scrambled at the fancy restaurant (this coming from a woman who loves mimosas and floral dresses).
I say it’s time to cash in on Mother’s Day, guilt free.
I have absolutely no reason to feel cranky about such a well-intended day to honor us. I have been lucky to have incredible mothers in my life – my own mom, my grandmothers, my sister, friends and colleagues with kids. Wonderful women, fabulous women. No ill feelings about motherhood here.
It’s just that this antiquated version of “The Day” no longer seems to match up with what we truly need as modern moms. Flowers? Brunch? A day at the spa? (Although I will take that massage, thank you very much.)
Here’s some total honesty: I want a day off. An all-inclusive day off from dawn to dusk. No talking if I don’t want to. No preparing anything for anyone else. No coordinating. No worrying about whether anyone else is having a good time. Did I mention no talking? I want to be by myself. Not in an angry way, but in a most peaceful way. This mommy needs a timeout pronto.
Why so cranky? This working mom with two daughters under 5 is pooped. Like almost any average mom will tell you, becoming a parent is life-changing, rewarding and joyful. For me personally, motherhood has redirected goals and interests that would baffle and disappoint my free-wheeling 25-year-old self.
Motherhood makes life fuller and more meaningful, but it’s also exhausting emotionally, physically, mentally. (Now I know why my own mom would often respond with “I don’t remember, my brain is full,” almost every time my sister and I would ask her a question when we were kids. That coming from a woman who actually had it together and was organized.)
Don’t get me wrong. I have a blast with my family and am grateful for so much, but as my kids grow with school, activities and life I suddenly find myself overextended. (You too?)
Can we redefine Mother’s Day?
Let’s look at the facts of our time: 65 percent of women with children under 6 years old work outside the home, about two times more than the previous generation, according to BabyCenter. We have more to do and less time to do it (nine-plus hours added to our days; 13 fewer hours for ourselves); 52 percent of us say extended family is less likely to live nearby, although 62 percent say dads are pitching in.
I blame the Internet. I blame the flower bouquet I forgot to take for Teacher Appreciation Day. I blame myself for having trouble asking for help inside and outside of the home.
No, we are not living in our grandmothers’ generation anymore, even though some us are trying to live life and cook dinner every night and make the cookies for school before we jet off to work. If only we had time – a whole extra day – to check out and think about how to practically take it all down a notch.
Challenge yourself to cash in on Mother’s Day this year with time for yourself, alone, no kids, guilt-free.
A few years ago, I opted out of Mother’s Day – just for a few hours in the morning. Alone, I went to a local hotel pool, ordered a salad and a mimosa and sat on a lounge chair reading trashy tabloid magazines in sunglasses and silence until 2 p.m. I then joined my family for dinner that night. It was exactly what I needed that year, that week, that day.
Aside from a few recurring questions inside my head including, “What the heck kind of nut-job stunt are you doing without your kids today, lady?” I felt good. If the weather’s nice again this weekend, I might repeat this stunt.
There’s no shame in accessing what we each might personally need right now as women and mothers, and that includes solitude for ourselves, our souls, our sanity. Whether it’s a few hours or a full day, take advantage this weekend to redefine what this designated day for moms can truly offer you in the name of rest and reflection.
Sometimes, a good timeout, with no talking, is all we need. No guilt necessary.
Jill Simonian was born and raised in Fresno and graduated from Sanger High School. Founder of the lifestyle blog for moms TheFabMom.com, she appears weekly on CBS Los Angeles and is writing her first book, “The FAB Mom’s Guide,” coming out in April 2017. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter @jillsimonian.