After Mother's Day
It's a day you certainly deserve. The "Happy Mother's Day!" greetings trickle in as the various members of your household wake up and find you. Maybe they find you sitting up in bed with a lovingly prepared breakfast on a tray across your lap, compliments of your husband. Or maybe you find them in the dining room patiently waiting to surprise you with a gift you might appreciate more than any other gift you'll receive that day - a meal you don't have to prepare or clean up after.
The customary but cherished letters, cards, and coloring pages follow from your children. One letter from your just turned teenager that, while still youthful and innocent, belies a subtle maturity that carries with it more than a touch of melancholy - he's growing up, and fast. There might be a few folded over pieces of construction paper with pasted on clippings from a mail-order flower catalogue and some baby animals from a conservation magazine that you're not entirely sure how you signed up for. Then there's the coloring page(s) your 4 year old put the finishing touches on just before you walked into the room. One of them is of a puppy sticking its head out of a gift box in front of a fireplace and a Christmas tree. You couldn't love it more if it actually was a puppy in a gift box on Christmas Day.
Later you go to church and hear an inspiring message on the beauty of motherhood. You, along with all of the other mother's in the assembly, are handed a flower by a smiling usher. For a moment it seems as if the entire room has directed its attention to you with an unfeigned look of appreciation upon their faces. This is an exceptional day.
Back at home after the service, you host either your mother or mother-in-law (or both) for lunch. What makes this especially pleasant is 1. Your house is actually in a presentable state and 2. You will actually get to serve a meal on place ware that matches and/or isn't made of paper. More gifts follow - a touching card or letter from your husband, a candle or two, maybe a potted plant. One of your children has gone to the trouble of creating some custom coupons for you to redeem whenever you like. There's a 'Clean the house' coupon, a 'Prepare a meal' coupon, and a 'Watch a movie together' coupon. You'll probably only redeem the last one.
After everyone goes home for the evening, your family tells you to relax and you gladly attempt to comply, but as you grab a book or a magazine or your phone to do a little leisurely reading you realize that far from ending, Mother's Day has just begun. The house is a little disheveled and the kitchen is considerably worse and this casually reminds you that your room became the repository for all the stuff no one wanted to take the time to put away the night before. You drop your leisurely reading and make steps towards the dining room. "Mom!" someone says. "Don't worry about the mess. We're going to take care of it. It's Mother's Day!" You know. That's why you're not reading.
Why is there even such a thing? Why have we gone to the trouble as a society to set aside one day every year and mark it as Mother's Day? Well, it's because so many of you refuse to take the other 364 days of the year off. Frankly, most of you don't even take that high and holy 365th day off. Sure, you received gifts and flowers, and you were served first at mealtime, but let's be honest; you still had to get everyone dressed for church (which may or may not include your husband), you probably cooked your own Mother's Day meal, and while your family will do its best, their idea and your idea of 'tidying-up' after the day's events is two different things.
God bless you mothers. Your special day is past now, but truth be told it was over before it started. You never really stop mothering - how could you? There's simply too much to do, and too much at stake. And while cards are nice, as are Mother's Day sermons and kitchen towels that don't quite match your decor (but that you'll use anyway), you don't really need any of those things to keep doing what you do. You're a mother. All you need is to see your family happy. When they enjoy a meal you've prepared, when they squeeze you tight and tell you how much they love you, when you walk by their room at night knowing they feel safe enough to fall asleep, these are the jewels in your crown and you wouldn't trade them for anything. Every day is Mother's Day.