Sunday, May 08, 2011

Mum's Day

My most memorable Mother's Day took place about eight years ago. I was separated from my husband, and overwhelmed with piles of stuff, a rambunctious toddler, money issues, and a garden that rivaled a rain forest for its overgrowth and canopies of thorns. To say nothing of the various critters that lurked about.

My kids planned to take me out for brunch. Reservations had been made.

The day before, in a fit of overcompensating for months of neglect, I'd purchased some compost tea at a nursery, and sprayed it on my chickweed-filled lawn. It was a rare Saturday without a soccer game, and I spent the entire day with my hands in soil--digging, weeding, clipping. I'd slapped together a sandwich mid-day, and, unbeknownst to me, the microbes from the compost tea had taken that opportunity to migrate to a willing host. Sunday morning I woke up to the lovely sound of my gut rumbling, which quickly turned into vomit spray. I spent the day between the bed and toilet. So much for brunch.

It's taken me a long time to recognize my part in the dynamic of Mother's Day Fail. Our culture tells our kids that honoring your mother means feeding her. Hauling her ass somewhere nice, where she can be fancy and drink Mimosas. I bought into this over the years, accepting invitations to swell restaurants. My daughter has been particularly valiant and sweet in providing several excursions to various eateries about town. But, because I chose to have, essentially, two generations of children, the Mother's Day brunches have typically involved the usual time management responsibility of "fitting in" being honored amidst soccer tryouts, birthday parties, and once, a trip to urgent care because the rambunctious toddler had become a rambunctious 10-year-old who'd skateboarded his way to a sprained wrist. Happy Mother's Day, indeed!

So this year, my dear husband has arranged something for me. And it will take place late in the day, and I won't have to leave my house. The older kids are coming over for dinner. I don't have to cook it or clean up after it. And, in fact, this morning he's taken the rambunctious now 12-year-old skiing (yes, skiing. we've had a crazy snowy spring in the Cascades), and I get to read, write and have the house to myself for several hours. As much as I adore my children, solitude without obligation is a precious thing. The quiet of a Sunday--a true and delicious actual day off--is the best Mother's Day gift there is.


  1. my mother's day gifts are always trips by myself. solitude, that's all i want. two years in a row i flew up to chicago and spent the night to see authors (first time was julia cameron, the second, sue monk kidd).

    this mother's day is coming a week late for me, i'm leaving saturday morning to meet a friend and driving back to a farmhouse i've reserved all day saturday and all day sunday for my first writing retreat of the year.

    it's the best mother's day gift that i can imagine.

  2. Hi Suzy--
    I'm here from Betsy's blog. I loved what you did for Diana's boys last week -- William is so much his mother's son.

    I'm coming to Portland on May 23 and 24 for book events. Any chance we can meet up and make trouble have something to tell Betsy re: her Portland fan base?


  3. Do you think Betsy knows what she's started? I have met the most fabulous people (you and amy among them) via that blog of hers.

    Yes, Vivian! Let's meet when you're here!

    email me and we can exchange digits:


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