Mother’s Day in the Bag

I remember liking Mother’s Day once. When bits and pieces of love came home in stapled brown paper lunch bags, secretly stashed away in the bowels of a backpack and forgotten about until Monday morning. Their Mother’s Day love to be found next to the lunch box containing Friday’s uneaten warm and oozy peanut butter and jelly. “What’s in this bag?” I would feign ignorance. “Oh, that’s your Mother’s Day gift. Can you NOT make me peanut butter and jelly this time. You know I don’t like peanut butter and jelly.” “Should I open it?” I ask, ignoring the dietary request. “Um, sure, if you want to. The teacher made everyone do one.” How nice.

The gift: a day late and delivered to me – by me. I imagine my son in school trying to get through this special assignment as a means to get to recess. I feel so special. I wonder if I’m the only mother getting her mandated arts and craft project on Monday morning? Maybe not. But I bet she’s a mother of a boy.

Mother’s Day is an interesting holiday. I brace for a roller coaster ride of emotion each year. The day starts awash in gratitude that I am even on this ride called motherhood as I anticipate a fun day with my children. But it’s fraught with ups and downs, twists and turns. It crests with my boy’s gallant attempt to meet expectations of good behavior, affection and handmade cards.  And crashes violently ten minutes later by the shear exhaustion of keeping up the appearance of feigned sweetness. Like the sweater vest or neck tie, at some point it has to come off.  The day coasts in like any other, all of us deflated by the realization that somehow none of it measured up.

While the holiday may be lost on my boys, it is not lost on my husband.  He recognizes me everyday but especially on Mother’s Day. He gently prompts the kids in the morning. “Psst, what do you say to Mom today?” “Ummm, I’m sorry?” And is a master gift giver. I’ve gotten everything from jewelry to a pink-trimmed baseball glove to a Super Soaker squirt gun. Yup, I had no trouble getting some “me time” that Mother’s Day!

Today’s Mother’s Day lived up to ALL expectations. It started when my youngest asked if there would be school tomorrow. Huh?….. “Yeah, because if today’s a holiday don’t we get Monday off?” It crested in tears when I discovered forgotten homework assignments in their backpacks. And was topped off by sitting in 45 degree drizzle watching the ungrateful play his lacrosse game an hour away from home.

“So what are we doing for Mother’s Day?” my oldest asks as we step off the field and into the warmth of the car. “I don’t know kid. What are you going to do? There is still time left in the day.” I wink at him and hope they don’t actually do anything. At this point, Mother’s Day is in the bag and sealed up for another year.