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What a Difference A Year Makes

We had that great American Hallmark
holiday yesterday – Mother’s Day. I’ve always
been a bit uncomfortable with the day: growing up I felt
resentfully as if every day were Mother’s Day (when
don’t I have to obey her?) and once I hit motherhood, it
seemed disingenuous to ask my young children to appreciate me fully
– I mean, let’s face it, kids don’t appreciate
their parents until they become one.

Don’t get me wrong – if Brian’s offering to take
over my chores for a day and pamper me, I’m not going to
complain. But as I commented to my girlfriends on Saturday, the
best Mother’s Day present I can get is time away from my

I remember last year, I told Brian that
all I wanted for Mother’s Day was as little to do with the
mundane details of the girls’ day as possible. I didn’t
want to have to fix breakfasts, or the endless little tupperwares
of snacks, or restock the diaper bag, or have Cora climbing up my
leg every thirty seconds, or listen to Maddie whine or beg for
something every five minutes. Brian complied the best he could, but
with Cora less than a year old, there was a limit as to how much
Mummy Substitution she would accept. Brian gave me time off spread
out over the weekend, a few hours at time with me returning for
naps and meals and nursings and cuddles.

Fast-forward one year, and life’s gotten easier.

This year Mother’s Day took me a bit by surprise. I knew it
was coming, but I wasn’t staring at it like the Golden Ticket
to a few hours of freedom. What surprised me was not its arrival,
but how much less stressed over and mired in my everyday life I
felt. I’m teaching a bit every week, which gets me out of the
house; I’ve got good friends here now, who act as a pressure
release valve during play dates; and frankly, my girls are simply
more independent.

I’m sure I’ve also settled into my role as mother of
two, but by and large it’s my circumstances that have
changed, not me. Brian took the girls over to his mom’s house
for the evening as my mom and I hung out together in a child-free
zone, and both girls were surprisingly good-natured when they
learned Mommy wasn’t getting in the car with them. I enjoyed
my light chore load for the day, but didn’t feel that it came
in the nick of time to save my sanity. My girls are growing up, and
I’m getting my personal space back (a bit) and finding life
is easier now that Cora’s sleeping through the night at least
five nights a week.

I feel guilty when I think about how much my girls’ best gift
to me is their absence, but I know this season of overload is
fleeting. I know in a few years I’ll see much less of them on
a daily basis and crave good ole hang out time with them on my
special day. And jump forward a couple decades after that, and
I’ll be eagerly awaiting the drop-in visit or phone call that
reconnects me with my by then more distant daughters. I dearly love
my girls, and am looking forward to their upcoming birthdays with
no small amount of ambivalence – loving their emerging
independence and self-sufficiency, while still craving that
little-girl snuggliness I know will disappear soon.

But right now, I’m boldly admitting that the best part of
Mother’s Day was the night off – with my mother.


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