When I was a young mother, holidays and birthdays were planned far in advance, and celebrated to the fullest. I doubt that when my daughter was 2 that she understood that spending $2000 on Christmas presents and clothing and food and the tree was an outrageous amount for the 1980s. I'm not sure my son understood that the ponies I'd rented for his birthday one year didn't arrive because of the wet weather. I've hired clowns, baked for days and sometimes weeks before holidays, made my own Easter Chocolate Rabbits (and painted them in detail with dyed white chocolate) and no matter how poor we were (there was a year I cut up my towels to make teddy bears, cut up my clothing to make dolls, and bought a dowel to make a hobby horse) that every effort was made to make that day special, to make my kids aware that they were the center of my attention, and that this was all for THEM.
By the time they became teens, a lot of that fell by the wayside, and I would step aside and let them celebrate with their friends more. They weren't as interested in spending the time with mom, and I was disappointed in some regards, but in others, happy, because this was the kind of independence that healthy kids develop: they start to fledge.
I think that's where Mother's Day comes in, because the mom is left back at the nest, in most cases, when the youngsters fledge. Her work isn't done until they leave the nest for good. So she's still sticking around to support her babies until she knows they can handle it on their own. Now with birds, they take off one day and there's no looking back. With humans, that varies to some degree.
I am not so old yet as to be feeble, but I'm not a young chick anymore. I think my kids still picture me as that fighting single mom who managed to buy them a house, who drove them cross country with few possessions to start a new life, who always managed somehow. Oh, they know on a rational level that there's nothing superhuman about me, but they still expect, on some level, superhuman results. I think they think I'm out here, a thousand miles away, adventuring. And yeah, to some degree I do that... I mean, I keep LIVING, not merely surviving, the best I can. But on most days I have to deal with chronic pain, I have to wonder "is this new tumor cancer this time around?", I have to struggle with keeping food on the table and a roof over my head. Life isn't all whale-watching boats and hikes in National Parks.
I am not Super Mom.
So on days like today, when I haven't seen any of my kids in about two years, when it's a day celebrating motherhood, I try to make that day as special for me as I made holidays for them. Today I'd planned special meals for myself from breakfast to my evening treat of dipped strawberries and red wine. I planned on making it a housework-free day. I planned to just spend the day celebrating motherhood.
But to be honest, I'm just not feeling it.
My apartment is in the front of the building, near guest parking. Today I'll have a front row seat to the same events that played out at Easter, only magnified: cars rolling up and unloading men and women with flower and balloon arrangements to see their parents, some with grandchildren in tow. Elderly (a little older than me) women in their Sunday best being lead out to cars by their grown sons for a Mothers Day Brunch. This place is a hive of activity on holidays. Then there are a few of us, the women like me, who remain behind, alone. And while being alone is tough on a day to day basis, on birthdays and holidays it can feel like a gut-punch.
Maybe I expect too much. I don't expect ponies and clowns. And I can't say exactly what it is I want, what I need from today. I just didn't want it to be something more than the little joy of knowing the laundry machines would be open for use because everyone else was out celebrating.