Mother's Day Is Not All About You

The Great Big Lie About Mother's Day

This following is an excerpt from Jill Smokler's new book, Motherhood Comes Naturally (and Other Vicious Lies). Jill, better known as Scary Mommy, is leading our new Stress-Less Parenting workshop. Check out her first challenge, and if you haven't signed up yet, go to the purple box on the right side of this page to receive our weekly newsletter.

Once a year in May, there is that glorious day celebrating all things motherhood. The day we finally get to sit back and not lift a finger and bathe in the accolades our loved ones shower upon us. The day when we get a year's worth of recognition for all the sacrifices we've made and appreciation for all the little things we do. When we get to relax and breathe in and not spend the day cleaning or overseeing or decision-making . . . or, not.

It turns out Mother's Day is the episiotomy of motherhood: it's supposed to be for your benefit but you're the one making all the sacrifices.

Of all the lies of motherhood, I think this one might be the cruelest. I feel so sorry for new mothers, who tend to look forward to their first Mother's Day with their newborns with the same anticipation they had for the actual birth of their children. I've been there, and my own visions of photo ops, adorable clothing, and an outpouring of appreciation were quickly squashed with the harsh reality that there are no days off in motherhood. Especially in year one.

Somehow, instead of a day spent lounging on the couch with our hands down our pants like our male counterparts on their day, Mother's Day has turned into yet another day where we are expected to work our asses off.

In the best of Hallmark worlds, ours is a day filled with brunches, bouquets of flowers, and homemade gifts. Super, but who is going to make the actual reservation for brunch? And who is going to spend the morning struggling to gets the kids dressed in clean clothes that fit? And who is going to be stuck changing the water in that flower vase for the next several days? We are, that's who! Mother's Day gives new meaning to the word motherf*cker. We're the ones getting f*cked.

How about breakfast in bed? Such a sweet notion in theory, but in actuality, it's the worst gift a child can give. Let's let the kids loose in the kitchen while we're still asleep, oblivious that the house is about to burn down! Perfect! One year, Lily presented me with a plate of toast and some sliced berries. The cinnamon-sugar toast was edible, I was delighted to discover, and I gratefully ate it. Could have been so much worse, I thought, as I debated turning over some cooking responsibilities to my little chef.

Until I went down to the kitchen and discovered what looked like World War III. There was jam plastered on the refrigerator and cinnamon sprinkled across the floor. There were cracked eggs on the counter, the yolks oozing down the granite. The dog was frantically eating the rest of the loaf of bread that Lily left out on the table, and God knows what else that pup ingested. (As a bonus, I found out later that night. And again at 3 a.m.!) Every single cabinet was open, and the sink was overflowing with every utensil in the house -- all for a piece of toast and a few strawberries. There's a reason brunch is really only meant to be eaten out, I quickly learned.

My husband and I have an argument every single year when he asks what I want to do for Mother's Day. I want to be left alone, I say, every single year. But it's Mother's Day, he argues. Don't you want to spend it with your children?

No, I don't, thank you very much, I answer. I spend every day with my children, and I am lucky to do so. But, shouldn't a holiday be treated differently than just another ordinary day? Yes, it should. So, every Mother's Day, all I ask is one simple thing: to be left the hell alone.

I tried this approach last year. I slept late and played dead when I heard the kids calling for me. I took a shower by myself and without an audience, and I might have even had an uninterrupted bowel movement. I didn't do any laundry, and I cooked nothing. Jeff took the kids out for several hours, and I had the house all to myself. It was wonderful -- for about an hour. That's how long it took before I started feeling like something was off, like I had lost a limb or something. Before I knew it, I was missing my kids. I longed for their hugs and slobbery kisses, and I hated the thought that they were out experiencing the world without me. I ended up calling Jeff and asking him to come back home.

You see, this is one of the cruel ironies of motherhood. Your kids make you so crazy that sometimes you want to run away, but then as soon as you get a clean break all you want is their company. Of course, there is no day where this is more evident than on Mother's Day -- you know, that day that is all about you.

★ You Thought You Were Special? ★Turns out having an annual holiday celebrated in your honor is hardly that big of a deal. Everybody and their mother has their own damn holiday.
  • January 10 is Houseplant Appreciation Day
  • January 14 is Dress Up Your Pet Day
  • January 15 is National Hat Day
  • January 20 is Penguin Awareness Day
  • January 28 is National Kazoo Day
  • February 5 is National Weatherman's Day
  • February 19 is National Chocolate Mint Day
  • February 23 is International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day
  • February 26 is National Pistachio Day
  • March 1 is National Pig Day
  • March 6 is National Frozen Food Day
  • March 10 is Middle Name Pride Day
  • March 14 is Learn About Butterflies Day
  • March 20 is Extraterrestrial Abductions Day
  • March 24 is National Chocolate-Covered Raisin Day
  • April 2 is National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day
  • April 4 is Hug a Newsman Day
  • April 16 is National Stress Awareness Day
  • April 18 is International Juggler's Day
  • April 26 is Hug an Australian Day
  • April 30 is Hairstyle Appreciation Day
  • May 4 is National Candied Orange Peel Day
  • May 6 is National Tourist Appreciation Day
  • May 16 is Love a Tree Day
  • June 6 is National Yo-Yo Day
  • June 19 is World Sauntering Day
  • June 28 is Insurance Awareness Day
  • July 7 is National Strawberry Sundae Day
  • July 13 is Barbershop Music Appreciation Day
  • July 18 is National Caviar Day
  • August 6 is Wiggle Your Toes Day
  • August 18 is Bad Poetry Day

Excerpted with permission from Motherhood Comes Naturally (and Other Vicious Lies) by Jill Smokler (Gallery Books, April 2013).

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