It took me a few years to really understand that it is not my job to make my kids like me. I am not their friend, I am their parent. In fact, if they get to a point that they think I am “cool” then I have seriously screwed up somewhere.
I’ve also decided that Mother’s Day is more about our children honoring us in their own special way than it is for us to “take the day off”. They are full of so much pride when handing us a handmade card or personally picked gift. It is not for us to have a day to ourselves, or have a free ticket out of house cleaning or laundry. After all, we wouldn’t even be in this motherhood club without the kids. (I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want DOUBLE the chores the next day because I blew them off on Sunday!) You’ll be disappointed if you are expecting it to be this magical 24 hour transformation where siblings don’t fight and bowls are suddenly rinsed and put in the dishwasher. It just doesn’t work that way.
I slept in as long as Luna would allow before her little bladder was going to burst. She patiently sat on my chest, licking my face, until my eyes opened. DW had left early to “surprise” me with a Mother’s Day treat: donuts. (The doctor said I couldn’t have coffee and fatty meats. She said nothing about Tim Horton’s Canadian Maple Donuts and a cold glass of milk.) The Hare presented me with her cute crafty third grade creation, a mother bunny hugging a baby bunny, her smile beaming as she handed it to me. Included in the card were a handful of “coupons” for me to use: 15 kisses, 7 laughs, 5 free hugs, etc. On the kitchen counter were my gifts carefully wrapped in the bags the cashier had placed them.
“What, no hand-made card?” I winked at The Tortoise.
“Mom! We don’t do that in 7th grade.”
My gifts were spot on: some summer pajamas from Old Navy and a couple of new t-shirts from Ann Taylor. Later in the afternoon my sun-deck was also adorned with a new reclining deck chair to replace the old plastic one that had died a couple of years ago.
“I thought you’d like a place to read outside now that the weather is getting warmer, ” smiled DW.
“That’s what I was texting him about yesterday, Mom, ” said The Tortoise, “Remember? When we were shopping? When you thought I wasn’t paying attention to you? I was totally paying attention.”
The day went swiftly between a little kitchen cleaning and a load of laundry, we fit in dinner out, tickets to the high school production of Bye Bye Birdie, and then to get some frozen custard. It was such a quiet Mother’s Day, in fact, a little eerie. So far there had been no bickering, no need for excessive nagging, no whining and no complaining. These couldn’t be my children. I seriously wanted to pinch myself, except that if it was a dream, I didn’t want to wake up.
I smiled in reflection as we drove to the custard shop.
“Your teeth look gross, ” stated The Hare, “When’s the last time you brushed them?”
“This morning! We haven’t been home since we ate out, remember?” snapped The Tortoise.
“Well, you’ve got food stuck in your braces or something and it is grossing me out.”
“Then don’t look at it.”
“Then don’t open your mouth!”
“Enough!” shouted DW.
He gave The Hare “the what for” and let her know she was being sassy. She needed to apologize to her sister for being so mean.
“sorry” she mumbled.
“That wasn’t much of an apology, ” I added.
“I’M SORRY YOU HAVE FOOD STUCK IN YOUR BRACES.”
Silence. Both DW and I were processing this. Obviously that still wasn’t an apology. In fact, she made it worse but not being accountable for her own actions and putting the blame on her sister’s braces.
The Hare was still pouting about getting in trouble when we got to the custard shop. It had been such a pleasant day, I was really hoping it wouldn’t be soured now. The cute girl behind the counter gave us our flavor choices for the day, and since 4 out of the 5 had chocolate, my answer was simple: vanilla. The Tortoise knew what she wanted right away: Chocohalic. The Hare was still waiting for us to notice that she wanted consoling. She wouldn’t pick a flavor. She wouldn’t pick a cup or cone. She wouldn’t even look me in the eye as I went over the flavors again.
I sat down.
DW asked her one more time what flavor she wanted, received an inaudible mumble, and then The Hare stomped to our table and flung herself in the chair. DW looked at me in confusion.
“I don’t know what she said either.”
The Hare stared at me, arms crossed, and opened her mouth, “mumble, mumble, mumble.”
My ears couldn’t decipher temper tantrum.
“She doesn’t want anything.” I responded to DW.
“Works for me.”
“WHAT!” shouted The Hare. “I SAID I WANTED CHOCOLATE 4 TIMES!”
She stood up stomping her feet. Her face turning hot with anger, the tears immediately racing down her face.
DW quickly grabbed her hand, marched her to the car, and waited in the parking lot so that The Tortoise and I could enjoy our dessert in peace.
“It wasn’t ruined, ” I replied. “I got to spend it with you. Besides, today is just a normal day. There are moments that are great, and moments that aren’t so great. You have to choose which moments you’re going to hold on to and which moments you’re going to let go of at the end of each day. That’s how life works.”
The Tortoise scraped another chocolate spoonful out of her bowl, “Then I choose this moment, eating custard with you.”