Thursday, May 8, 2008

Reclaiming Mother's Day

Oh, it's nice to be appreciated. I like it. I do (you're sensing a looming 'but,' aren't you?) I do like it. But, what does Mother's Day really mean to me, or my kids? It's such a cloying, sticky, canned event. I suppose if no one ever told my kids to thank me, they probably wouldn't, but does it mean something if it's forced?

Not to me.

It reminds me of the time I told my first boyfriend I loved him. Then I waited. He had to say something back, right? He didn't. So after a painfully long pause, about 4 seconds, I said, "Do you love me too?" His answer is irrelevant, though you can probably guess what it was, he was a cornered teenager hoping to get lucky. It had, not just the ring, but the clang, of insincere.

So what do I want instead?

Frighteningly, it occurs to me that I don't want to be thanked. I don't want a store-bought card, or a grocery-store bouquet. I want what I can't have. I want what I gave up to be a mother. I want my body back. I want that little flat in Paris I so easily pictured myself in. I want a handful of lovers, or at least the ease and spontaneity to have sex with my husband without an audience. I want, as the great Greta Garbo said, " be alone."

What we've created, with this Mother's Day monster, is not really about mothers at all. It's about every one else. It's forced, guilt-assuaging--throw the old girl a bone, get a little misty eyed at her sacrifice, and you're in the clear for the rest of the year. Sunday, I'm angelic. Monday, I'm a boot scraper.

It's okay. I get it. I'm not really bitter or angry. But when my family asks what super-fun thing we can do to celebrate my day--Mother's Day--I'm going to suggest a wild day starting with breakfast at McDonald's, followed by bowling, then a Disney movie, and finally supper at Chuck E. Cheese's.

I sure do hope they have fun.

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