Photo by Matt Cashore '94
I’ve been up since 6 a.m. I got up, made coffee and walked the dogs while the house and the neighborhood slept through a rainy Sunday morning.
This should be nothing exceptional, the birds chirping, the flowers blooming, the heavy air remaining after the night’s storm, except today is Mother’s Day. It is the one day of the year that I feel entitled to sleep in.
Frank Hering, a former football coach and faculty member at Notre Dame, is considered by many to be the “Father of Mother’s Day.” Anna Jarvis would not agree, and Woodrow Wilson might also want some credit, he established the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day in 1914.
Getting to sleep past 6 o’clock on the second Sunday morning in May is an entitlement given to me by the President of the United States and supported by florists, bakeries, candy companies, hotels that serve brunch, the Senate and Hallmark Cards, Inc. — a company that prints a Mother’s Day card that reads, “Thanks for being my Bungee cord.”
And even though the President of the United States decided that this is my day, the only one who got to sleep in at our house on Mother’s Day was Dad. The Mother’s Day fights in our house started on Tuesday this year.
“I just found out today that I’m supposed to make a brunch reservation for Sunday!” he declared on Tuesday morning.
“Really? You just found out today? Because it’s been on the calendar for, what, a hundred years?”
The fight ended with a litany of my husband’s Mother’s Day accomplishments over the years. He was searching for validation, despite the missing brunch reservation. Instead of being kind and acknowledging his Mother’s Day victories, I reminded him of the year he bought me a bucket of rat poison.
While shopping for Mother’s Day gifts at Home Depot, he decided dealing with the mouse problem would be a good gift. He loaded up our yard with rat poison and left on a business trip. Even though he wasn’t even in the country, he still managed to poison the dogs and I spent Mother’s Day at the emergency vet.
My husband feels like Mother’s Day is a trap. It’s a holiday that doesn’t take much, but he feels it’s never enough. He can take the kids to buy a gift, he can offer to make a Mother’s Day brunch reservation, he can spend hours scrubbing the porch furniture, he can do all of these things, but then he poisons the dogs and I don’t get to sleep in and I’m disappointed and feeling sorry for myself on Mother’s Day once again.
The early morning, the poisoned dogs, making my own coffee. . .this is life. My life. There is no breakfast in bed, no brunch reservation, and it’s not a Hallmark greeting card.
The reality of my life this rainy Sunday morning in May is a jar that still smells like pickles, painted with nail polish and leftover paint from a science project, labeled with a Sharpie. It’s filled with “Reasons Why We Love You.” I noticed the pickle jar along with the cards and gifts when I came downstairs just past 6 o’clock this morning.
If I take a step back and breathe, if I start acting like a grown-up — acting like a mom — I am able to appreciate the reality of my life this rainy second Sunday in May. I am surrounded by love: the dogs, the children, their smiles, the pickle jar on the kitchen counter and one sleepy-eyed husband walking into the kitchen just after 9 a.m., remembering, “Oh sh-t! It’s Mother’s Day.”
Maraya Steadman, who lives in a Chicago suburb, is a stay-at-home mother of three children.