On Mother’s Day, I Have to Pretend I Want to Spend Time With My Family

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and I have yet to hear a single mother out there say that all she wants is to spend the day with her family. In fact, most moms I know are itching to get away from their children on Mother’s Day. Just yesterday, I ran into someone at the gym a happily married mother of two who boasted that she’d be spending Mother’s Day alone at a downtown hotel and spa; her husband had booked a little staycation for the two of them, but she ultimately convinced him to let her enjoy it solo. I was jealous beyond belief and, as it turns out, so is every single woman with whom I’ve shared this  story over the past 24 hours.

“That’s what I want!” they’ll exclaim all dreamy-eyed and I know exactly what they mean. Because, let’s face it, we’re not looking for roses and love poems on Mother’s Day. Nor is it jewelry or gift cards or even breakfast in bed. No, there is one thing all mothers crave on this holiest of Hallmark days, and that would be some peace and quiet. That’s right, peace and quiet which means time away from our whiny children and, yes, time away from our spouse.

Some women feel differently. To them, Mother’s Day is all about being appreciated for the job they do each and every day.

These are the moms who want nothing more than to be with their children on Mother’s Day, because isn’t that what it’s all about (i.e., celebrating motherhood)? I get that, and I can appreciate it. But it’s just not me. That’s because I view Mother’s Day as more of an excuse to take the day off (“It’s like a get-out-of-jail-free card,” is how one friend describes it).

The truth is, most of us spend every waking minute of every day caring for or at least thinking about our children. Even if we’re at work, or on vacation, or in a 90-minute meditative yoga class, they are always in our thoughts and I, for one, can never just turn it all off (you know, that switch in my head that wonders if they’re happy and safe, if I packed a big enough lunch, if they’re over-programmed or rather not active enough… the list goes on and on). And so, on Mother’s Day, I want to shut that switch off, if even for just an hour or two.

I want to sleep in late, lounge around, sip coffee, read the paper, go to Bikram, take a nap, go for a walk, browse a bookstore, buy a summer scarf, sit on a patio, meet friends, drink wine, eat dinner, and breathe. I want to know that my kids are having the time of their lives with their dad and that they barely even notice I’m gone (we’re talking 24 hours here, people). That is precisely what I want for Mother’s Day, and I can say with all certainty that this is what 100% of my friends want, too.

Granted, I’m lucky enough to be able to accomplish at least one or two of these items each weekend (Bikram, for example, and certainly the wine bit). I’m grateful to have a supportive husband and health kids, and I am grateful to be a mother. But that doesn’t change the fact that I want all of these above items at once, in a single day, and I want them guilt-free. As I type this, I realize that the whole guilt thing is really what kills the Mother’s Day buzz for most moms; we’re supposed to want to spend time with our family when really we want anything but. We want a day of rest, dammit!

Like most moms, however gym buddy excluded I’ll be spending Mother’s Day with my family, hosting brunch (followed by Mother’s Day dinner with my in-laws). There are way worse things in life, I’m well aware, but that doesn’t change the fact that if I had my way, I’d be spending May 13th in solitude. And, as my sister so wisely pointed out earlier today, maybe we all need to be more open with our husbands/partners and children. Maybe we should tell them point-blank, “I want to be alone on Mother’s Day.” That way, we can take a break, recharge our batteries and, ultimately, be better mothers during the other 364 days of the year.


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