I wake to the smell of homemade lavender scones and the gentle rattle of a nine-year-old opening the door bearing a platter of such scones, lemon curd, a cup of black coffee ethically harvested and locally roasted, a small bud vase from Heath Ceramics filled with delicate buds from my blooming garden.
I page the advertisements and beauty advice from Real Simple as I bite into the scone, still warm from the oven. One by one, my dressed, showered and groomed children come to give me a kiss and wish me a “Happy Mother’s Day.”
My husband bears the baby to me who has nestled his shoulder just right to indicate she is ready to be fed. After a nurturing moment, I return her to his eager arms. I lay in bed, indulge in the morning of relaxation and peace.
We refer to this as a “vocation vacation”
and they only happen in advertisements and in our dreams.
The vocation of motherhood itself has the same sweetened brushstrokes over its surface. She is tender, kind, patient, a teacher, a lover, a chef, a housekeeper, a hospitality goddess. She is our solace and our refuge.
Or, in more modern times, she is the ultimate multi-tasker, the woman who shows us we can have it all, a powerful presence inside and outside the home. She is a strong advocate. She is fearless. She will never give up. She is our hero.
Or, in more desperate times, she is the resourceful one, the woman doing the grocery shopping, scanning every receipt and entering data into coupon apps. She hems torn pants into shorts. She grows vegetables. She is the Good-will guru. She made it possible to go to college. We saw her little but knew her endurance and sacrifice was the reason we are where we are.
We tell these stories, hold these memories and then look at ourselves.
Because I have not yet finished snarling over my own meal, I brush the child away who sneaks up behind me to ask if he can have a bite of his brother’s unfinished food. I turn aside from the sniveling six-year-old. I yell “no!” when the four-year-old begs for something across the house and I am juggling the baby and ingredients for a dinner I will work myself into a frenzy over, only to collapse on the couch in tears and blame myself for all kinds of failures.
I say “come on!” more than “good job!” during school work and hide in my room in the evenings, drawing out baby nursing times simply so I do not have to see the mess in the kitchen or manage the moods and tempers of tired, hungry, picky, goofy, excited, talkative children who just want to share their lego creations for the day or the absurd play, ahem, vignette, they staged.
But then, on better days,
I see I am the mother who sits and reads picture book after picture book because I, too, am interested. We schedule show-and-tell so they have my undivided attention. I stop talking, sit back and listen to their prattle knowing the value of sharing in a moment together and receiving their words. I do not cook well, if at all, but I know how to throw together raw ingredients with all the colors and food groups in a pleasing manner. I can set the table for my husband, light the candles and initiate a conversation with a family of seven.
Women may be home. They may be at work. Their children may be in their arms, in a homemade school room, off at school, or adults and providing care for the aging parents. There may be grandchildren or an empty home and lost communication. The children may outlive the parents or be held in the quiet grief following miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss. For these children, she lives and breathes and tries to escape at times in search of the self she lost or was tempted to lose as she explored the new normal, as she learned what it means to be mother.
There is no image that will fully capture her in all her complexity.
She is a mother.
However Mother’s Day is carried out may be just as messy as the vocation itself, but it is still a day, a day that is for her.