What’s the deal with Mother’s Day? We’re on duty all year, and then we’re supposed to be satisfied with a little false spoiling one day out of that long year? Huh. That kind of tokenism leaves me grumpy. Nonetheless, I expect this maternal holiday to be taken seriously if it’s all I’ve got coming to me.
Alright, alright, I’ll fess up. I don’t actually have to wait for a Sunday in May to get treated right. Anthony is a dad to shame other dads. At every reasonable opportunity, the man gives me breaks. He takes the kids on an adventure nearly every weekend (leaving me home alone to do what I want for a few hours and to be filled with envy that they’re having fun without me); he does all manner of household chores (except toilets, as far as I can tell); he’s involved in the ordinary daily activities of our lives. So he would have to top all that to make Mother’s Day special. Tough task. Last year, he took the kids away all day; I think I didn’t see them for 8 hours. I was thrilled and thankful.
A couple years ago, Anthony came home from a Mother’s Day outing and told me that he had noticed other families out having brunch for mother’s day, moms and dads and kids all together, and it left him kind of sad to be running around without me. I had several reactions to this feeling. One, maybe those moms work, and eating breakfast with their kids is special. Not me. Time alone is a rare treat for me, not breakfast with my kids. Two, Jesse’s egg allergy = brunch bad. Three, I wondered if those children he observed were acting like they’d been raised by monkeys, like mine do. Taking Nick and Jesse out to meals in restaurants isn’t relaxing or celebratory, unless I tranquilize them first.
My Mother’s Day weekend this 2014 was a bit odd. Jesse turned 9 last Tuesday, and as part of her birthday gifts she got a “birthday certificate” sending her on an overnight trip to a waterpark with Dad. She and Anthony were gone Saturday and much of Sunday, so I got to have some alone time with my 4-year-old Nick. He wanted to be the boss, and that seemed okay. We relaxed together Saturday, running a few errands and buying a couple plants for the yard. Nick picked a lovely little shrub for me with wee white flowers. Perfect. Sunday we woke up and lazed about. I brought Nick breakfast in bed so he could do a mini-marathon of Digimon. Next he wanted to go to the zoo. I said yes, because it was sure to be a quiet day at the zoo. After all, what mother in her right mind would go to the zoo on Mother’s Day? It would be Nick and me, riding the little steam engine zoo train over and over again, and visiting quietly with the penguins.
Apparently I still don’t understand Wisconsin, despite 8 years here. I’ve never seen the zoo more busy. The back up of cars to get through the entrance and into the parking lot covered 3 city blocks, a huge cloverleaf off-ramp, and the exit lane on the freeway. I was stunned. It was like family reunion weekend, multiple generations and extended families all gathered together to celebrate Mother’s Day. There was picnicking and barbecuing and lounging about on patches of lawn. At the zoo.
We waited 25 minutes to ride the blasted, stupid train just once. Even Nick was horrified. There were phalanxes of baby-buggies and loads of humanity blocking every path, which means mostly what Nick saw at his eye level, as we wandered about, was adult butt cheeks. It was the first really warm day of the spring, in the upper 70’s, and this apparently called for women to dig deep into their summer wardrobes and pull out their thinnest tube-top mini-dresses, short-shorts and revealing tanks, their pale winter-bleached skin adding to the glare of a warm sunny day. Wisconsin style.
I stood in line for the train and rudely asked a woman standing next to me, why in the world are you here? Why are all these mothers here? She had brought her sons and left her husband at home to do yard work and “clean up [her] closet.” I wasn’t entirely sure what the second part meant, but I didn’t delve further. She seemed happy.
I guess I must be soaking in the Milwaukee gestalt, because despite my puzzlement, there I was at the zoo alongside thousands of other mostly cheerful moms. And after all, I had fun. How could I not, with this little cutie by my side?
When we got home, Jesse and Anthony were waiting for us. Anthony had mowed the lawn and washed my breakfast dishes, and he was ready to grill dinner. He and Jesse had brought me a gift (a new t-shirt, always a treat), and there was a special note from her:
In case you can’t make out the body of the text: “Thanks for being a great Mother and you do a lot more things than a mom does. You are very tolerant, you work hard, you make great food, and you make my lunch delicious! Also that birthday certificate was AW[E]SOME. What I mean is thanks.”
I think it’s what moms dream of, even if they have to go to the zoo on their special day.