I was kind of a toot on my first Mother’s Day.
The expectations I had built up in my heart — never verbalized, of course! – were sky-high. I wanted a new dress to wear to Sunday morning services. I wanted a wrist corsage (that’s right, a wrist corsage). I wanted to win the “newest mother” flower during the worship hour. I wanted a present from my husband, a present from my infant son and a present from my mom. I didn’t want to lift a finger the ENTIRE DAY.
Basically, I just wanted I and all of my contributions to the mothering world to be meditated upon by my entire circle from the first second of Mother’s Day to the very last.
That’s all, though. Nothing more.
Bless it. Needless to say, by ten o’ clock that night, I had crashed and burned into a sad heap of unmet expectations. Even though everyone was lovely to me and I had more than any woman in her right mind could ever dream of, it wasn’t enough.
Because, like a said, toot.
I was a big one.
Thankfully, as the years have gone by and God has gently and consistently pulled me away from myself, I am learning to celebrate Mother’s Day in a much healthier way, and it goes a little something like this…
My husband is off the hook.
My gosh, I KNOW this man loves me, I know he celebrates me, and I know he is thankful for me. Instead of expecting him to give me the moon and grovel at my feet, all before he preaches his Sunday morning sermon, I simply ask for a little time off sometime around Mother’s Day.
And sometimes, “time off” doesn’t always mean I want to be alone and away from my family. It just means that I’m free to do…well, whatever! By myself or with him or with the kids or with my mom or with Netflix.
For instance, last year, on the Friday before Mother’s Day, my mom and I loaded up my girls for a day on the town where we got haircuts, ate out, went shopping and, best of all, laughed and talked and celebrated not just motherhood, but the friendship that can grow between generations of women who are dedicated to one another for life.
That was our Mother’s Day. And it was awesome!!!
Rebekah and Betsie watched movies and ate snacks in the car while my mom and I took turns getting our hair did.
Next we went to Andolini’s Pizzeria in Tulsa, one of those thoughtful places where hungry kids get balls of dough to keep them distracted until the food comes.
Now, I have to interrupt this string of pictures to tell you a crazy story. See right over there below that American flag? And see the exit on the left side of the room? And see the booth right before you get to that exit?…
I’m talkin’ about the area right beyond the lady in red…
Yeah, so Ed Sheeran was sitting there, eating pizza.
We didn’t KNOW it was Ed Sheeran, at the time.
We noticed that he LOOKED like Ed Sheeran, and my mom might have even verbally pitied him for trying SO HARD to look like Ed Sheeran, but we never DREAMED it was actually ED SHEERAN.
Because…why would Ed Sheeran be eating six tables down from us at a pizzeria in Tulsa on a Friday afternoon??? The idea never even crossed our minds because it made absolutely zero sense.
Even though some of the staff were taking selfies with him.
IT WAS TOTALLY ED SHEERAN.
He was apparently in Tulsa for a concert, and one of our friends who attended it said he actually mentioned Andolini’s Pizzeria during the show.
But he didn’t mention us.
Because he didn’t know we were there because we didn’t know he was there.
Nope, the only guy WE saw was a desperate Ed Sheeran look-alike. And the staff was taking pictures with him because he looked SO MUCH like Ed Sheeran that it was hilarious.
I intently examined all of my pictures from the day and, sadly, there wasn’t one Ed Sheeran photobomb. Not a speck of red hair in the background.
I did decide, however, that Betsie makes a great city girl.
After Andolini’s, we popped down the street for some tiny desserts from Le Madeleine, heavy on the chocolate.
And then we shopped our feet off!! It was an unscripted and lovely day — not a greeting card in sight! Not an expectation in my brain!! — but it was the BEST Mother’s Day experience I could possibly ask for.
Not because the world stopped for a day and recognized me.
Not because my husband sweated bullets trying to make sure he read my mind and gave me all the stuff I wanted.
Not because my children took a moment to thank me and read me a poem.
But because I was with the people I loved.
That’s what Mother’s Day should be about.
With the help of the Spirit, I don’t ever want Mother’s Day to be about ME again, because I am starting to learn that, without fail, when things become about “me”, they go downhill really, really fast.
If my kids want to do something for me someday, hooray, if my husband orchestrates a breakfast-in-bed, yippee, but God forbid that I ever end another Mother’s Day in that heap of misery again, not when I have living and loving to do with the very gifts that made me a mother in the first place.
So. That was Friday, but my “Mother’s Day” weekend continued to be sweet and fulfilling, solidifying lessons in my heart that had been a long-time coming. .
On Saturday night, even though they’d already had their church baths, the kids and I wound up outside in the street. Mr. Gore had called from the church (where he had gone to fix the computer) to tell us there was a brilliant rainbow in the sky.
Well, because of all the trees in our driveway, we couldn’t see it.
So we walked out into the street.
We still couldn’t see it, but after days of heavy rain, the lightning and thunder finally allowed us outside, and what was left were little rivers cascading down both sides of our street.
It was irresistible, and before I knew it, the kids were DRENCHED.
Cheeks flushed, eyes dancing, bodies jumping and running and kicking, their childhood was on full display, and I, the mother who, eight years ago, threw a hissy fit because Mother’s Day was not what I thought it should be, was absolutely at rest. I’d had more than enough to call it a successful holiday, and it wasn’t even Mother’s Day yet!
This was sincerely all the gift I needed.
Listen, one thing the internet has taught me is that Mother’s Day is an awful day for a lot of people. People who have lost their moms, people who have terrible memories of their mom, people who want to have babies but haven’t succeeded, people who have suffered miscarriages of their precious children, people who aren’t married yet and feel like the clock is ticking, ticking, ticking…
this holiday, for so many of the people we love, is the absolute pits.
So much that it makes me wonder if I even LIKE this holiday anymore!…
But at the very least, I am just more and more convinced that, if God has woven motherhood into my story, I have more than I could ask for, period. I don’t need to be recognized at church, I don’t need to be pampered, I don’t need to become a Mother’s Day tyrant, I don’t even need all the gifts and all the thoughtfulness.
In other words, I don’t so much need to be celebrated…
I need to CELEBRATE.
Lucky for all of us, the only necessity for that is a grateful heart.
No corsages needed.
p.s. Great news! Late that Sunday night, the kids and Mr. Gore DID surprise me with an at-home pedicure and manicure that they ALL took turns administering. It was like a hilarious nightmare, all the way down to the box of polish they all chose together at Amazon, titled “Jingle Splash”. Happy Mother’s Day to me?…