Will the Real Mother’s Day Please Stand Up?

I wake up on Sunday morning to the pitter patter of little feet and giggles coming from the kitchen. There’s the sound of more giggles and dishes rattling as the tray of burnt toast and watery tea is brought up to my bedroom. The door opens to the cry of “Happy Mother’s Day, Mama!”

SKEETCH! (sound of needle being ripped off the record playing nauseatingly happy music)

Reality: 10am and I hear the whispers of my daughter and her friend in the bedroom. Another is still sleeping in the basement. My son is still out cold in his bed and the dog hasn’t been let out yet. I have half an hour to change and shower before I have to allow my daughter to drive us to the U District Starbucks for a tutoring session. We order bagels and tea and she plunks down at a table for two with her tutor while I sit beside a sleeping Asian man and another woman studiously peering into her laptop at the big communal table nearby. I eat my bagel, drink my tea and read my book for an hour. Back home, the dishes are still in the dishwasher, the dog still needs a walk, there are wet towels on the floor. I call my mother and mother-in-law. Kids hide in rooms. I eat a piece of leftover steak from the fridge before dashing out again to have my daughter drive me to her riding lesson. I sit in alone in another coffee shop for two hours waiting for the lesson to be over. I almost finish book. Back home I get a delicious letter from my daughter and a dress from Forever 21 and shoes that don’t fit me, but fit her perfectly. I am touched. Happy. I have made peace with the day by saying I love to read (alone in a coffee shop). I have told my son that I wanted (yet another) book for Mother’s Day, but he has had no way to get to a bookstore, so we make a pilgrimage to Elliot Bay Bookstore (what better place to be on Mother’s Day, I ask you?) and I choose a book in his price range (Patty Smith’s memoir). We head out for dinner where my kids play on their cell phones while we wait for dinner. I consider pulling out a book. Back home, the dog still hasn’t had a walk, the dishes are still in the dishwasher needing to be put away, now there are dirty dishes in the sink and the wet towels are still on the floor. I have a temper tantrum. I clean out dishwasher, scream at my son that it’s now the 4th time I’ve asked him to pick up his towels and daughter stands at the top of the stairs asking “What is your problem?” Out of what I can only describe as pure martyrdom does she take the dog for a walk. We all retreat to our rooms after my outburst. Me to feel guilty and ungrateful for all that I have. Son eventually tiptoes in a whispers that he’s sorry. Daughter comes in like nothing has happened so I can kiss the top of her head (the only place I am allowed to kiss). At 2am, son is back, panic attack in full swing, doubtless because of my outburst. I spend half an hour trying to calm him down and get him to go back to sleep.

This morning I got an email from a friend with the subject line: Single Mom Support Group.” She writes:

I’m so tired of being a single mom! Nag! Nag! Nag! How was your Mother’s Day?  I think single moms get a raw deal on MD…usually orchestrating the whole “celebration” themselves.

She signed it “Bitter and Irritated”

Later she wrote “Facebook is insufferable these days with all the peppy mother’s day stuff” and I had to laugh, because yesterday my post was one of those. I do try to keep the positive sentiments, because I figure if I maintain my optimism then that is what will manifest. I am so full of shit sometimes.

So here’s to all you mom’s out there who had a shitty Mother’s Day, but made the best of it. You’re not alone.

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  1. Nano May 9, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I am not a single mom, but if it’s any consolation – my mother’s day was pretty much like any other day – spent most of it at a lacrosse tournament for the day (which involved me driving all over hell’s half acre) and kids had several meltdowns throughout the day and into the evening, I cleaned, and asked for some help with emptying a dishwasher, etc…and felt a wee bit sorry for myself as I was doing it etc..etc…I called my mom in another city and she said that I was the only one of my 6 other siblings who had called her (1pm her local time) – and then she said that although she always minimizes her expectations of MD to herself and others, she’s always a little put out by the lack of ceremony and attention when it doesn’t happen…martyrdom 101. I just think that it’s yet another one of these hallmark holidays that doesn’t quite live up to what we expect or would even hope for.

    1. Abigail - Site Author May 10, 2011 at 9:24 pm

      Yeah, damn Hallmark holiday that does nothing but set us up for a fall, as much as we try to pretend it doesn’t matter – it does.

  2. Kristine May 9, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    This being my first mother’s day as a single mom, I have to say, thank you for writing this, so I know I am not alone! I see Mother’s Day as a day for my mother, not for me, somehow, anyway… but when I lived with my husband, at least he prompted the writing of cards, the drawing of pictures, something. Ah, well, it’s just a greeting card holiday anyway. And a day for me to feel ok doing what I want to do! (which I did.)

    1. Abigail - Site Author May 10, 2011 at 9:41 pm

      Good for you Kristine. It should be a day just for us, but of course for all of us, that means being a mom, as Diane says. Just a normal day. And yeah, I will sheepishly admit I wouldn’t change it for a thing. Still, it felt great to have a big ol’ whine!

  3. diane May 9, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    Just sounds like normal life for a mom to me…and you wouldn’t change it for anything. ha! xx

  4. Rebecca Young May 10, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    I was presented with a homemade card from my 5 year old then dealt with her temper tantrums and consistent attitude all day. Oh and I also got to clean the house and do the washing while my 5 yr old moaned about how she has to do everything around the house when I simply asked her to put her library book in her school bag. Oh the joy. I had a melt down the day after mothers day and walked out of the house in tears mentioning I didn’t want to be there anymore. I sat out the front of my house,crying my eyes out for at least 30 mins. Afterwards it was business as usual, complete with attitude from 5 yr old.
    Sorry you had a shitty mothers day too, glad to hear we’re not alone.

    1. Abigail - Site Author May 10, 2011 at 10:25 pm

      Good for you, Rebecca for allowing yourself to have a lovely, full blown temper tantrum, complete with tears. So cleansing! Haha. OK, well I bet you felt a *little* better afterwards. Yeah, its probably the the only thing that really saves us, knowing we are not alone. Thanks for dropping by my blog. I’m going to add yours to my roll.

  5. Leslie May 10, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Yep, pretty crappy day all around here too. After I posted my little ones and the first poem my son ever wrote, the day went downhill from there. My blog gives the illusion it was a nice day but I cried and threw in the towel at 11am. No breakfast, no coffee even by noon and bickering children! Argh! Mother’s Day is a sham! Sorry you had a shitty Mothers day too Abby.

    1. Abigail - Site Author May 10, 2011 at 9:42 pm

      Those little guys nail us with the cute cards every time and then wreak havoc the rest of the day. It’s a conspiracy!

  6. nichola wellings May 13, 2011 at 1:03 am

    Single mum’s unite!

    Fake smiles turned up to full beam as I receive a wet, glued macaroni necklace and soggy cornflakes with a sprinkling of cat hair (yum!)
    But at times like these I think í would rather be faking enthusiasm at handy crafts than being married and having to fake something else….wink

    love your blog…read it all the time….thank you

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