Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. Today is Mother’s Day Off.
Confused, are you? Thinking, I didn’t see any Hallmark cards for that one? Well, it’s not a national holiday. You might call it regional. That region is my house.
What does Mother’s Day Off mean? It means I’m wearing a short skirt with no concern about sitting cross-legged on the floor stacking blocks, because I won’t be doing that if I don’t want to. It means I’m not wearing nursing pads in my bra and won’t be until I decide I want to go home and nurse, because my husband will be feeding pumped milk to the baby. It means sitting in a coffee shop by myself, doing the work I haven’t found time to do in far too long, sipping coffee, wearing impractical shoes and lipstick and eyeshadow, noticing the man two tables over as he notices my legs, which I only today remembered existed under my yoga pants.
It also means worrying, just a little, because my husband has both kids at Target looking for a Mother’s Day card, and he’s never taken both kids out before, and the chemically imbalanced portion of my brain keeps thinking he’s going to leave the baby and her car seat in the shopping cart and drive away with only the boy in the car.
But the sane portion of my brain knows he won’t do that, he’s an excellent daddy, and I’ve clung to my preciousssss–um, my little girl–for far too long without relief, and that she’ll take her bottle if she’s hungry and daddy plays a mean game of peekaboo and everything will be alright. So maybe after writing this blog post, I’ll sit back and read the novel I’ve been carrying in my purse, and later I might go to a movie. A grown-up one with curse words. And I’ll get popcorn and maybe some Milk Duds and I won’t have to share it or restrain my son from eating stray popcorn kernels off the movie theater carpet or worry that I’m negatively influencing my children’s eating habits.
Genius!, you might be saying to yourself. Pure genius! A whole holiday just for you! But wait–isn’t that what Mother’s Day is? Aren’t you being a little bit greedy?
Good point, you. Yes, in theory, Mother’s Day is a day for mom. But have you noticed that that celebration means Mommy waiting patiently for her breakfast in bed, which is inevitably brought in late and cold/burnt/sloshed with orange juice? Or a brunch out where her mommy skills are on display and she must put on the Beatific Mommy Face and accept many compliments on her baby’s chubby cheeks while worrying if the baby will be hungry before the mimosa flushes out of her system? And most of all, on Mother’s Day, we must spend time being mothers. Which is wonderful. We are mothers, and much of the time, we love it, and we love our kids and all that. But it’s exhausting, okay? And it’s a Sunday, which means all this exhaustion loops right back into the workweek. So last year, my husband and I decided to make a change.
Okay, so Mother’s Day Off didn’t start with Mother’s Day. It started with Father’s Day, and the fact that my husband always wants to go to this Father’s Day Weekend beer festival. The year I was pregnant, he went without me and I stayed home watching Dark Shadows on Netflix. That was fun. The year we first had the boy, I was too zonked to know if my husband went or not–he probably did while the boy and I slept at home. The next year, the boy was confined to the stroller most of the time, and there was this exhilarating flash rain storm which cleared a lot of people out, and the boy would only take bottles anyway so I toted a few bottles of pumped milk in a cooler and tasted all the beers I wanted while he napped. The nap only happened after a lot of time going back and forth in the stroller, but in such cases, the reward is totally worth the effort. But last year–ugh. It was hot. It was crowded. The kids area was not designed for toddlers, and the root beer bar was an overpriced, overcrowded joke. The boy, my pregnant belly, and I spent most of the time in a patch of shade we found near the port-a-potties, eating pretzels and digging in the dirt while the hubby brought us cup after cup of water and tasted a few beers in between.
“We’re never doing that again,” I said.
“Really?” He looked so forlorn. He loves his beer festival.
“You can go. But we’re not going.”
“But it’s Father’s Day.”
“It’s Father’s Day Weekend. So go to the beer festival one day, and spend the other day with us.”
And then we all had to put sunglasses on because the light bulb above my head shone so brightly.
“Yeah,” I said. “It will be Father’s Day Off. And we’ll do it for Mother’s Day, too. One day with the family, and one day alone.”
Okay, so it’s probably not such a revolutionary idea. Maybe Mother’s Day Off is celebrated by more families than I realize. Maybe it just needs a sitcom to popularize it–like an episode of Fuller House where Stephanie insists that DJ take some time for herself, but it’s Mother’s Day weekend, so she says, “Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. Today is Mother’s Day Off!” and of course Kimmy thinks that’s a good idea too so she joins in and at some point we see her in a robe and an algae mask with cucumbers on her eyes while DJ stresses that she should be home with her boys and eventually ends up having too many mimosas and making out with her masseur at the spa. (Producers of Fuller House, if you’re watching this–there’s a freebie. There’s more where that came from. Have your people call my people.)
So here I am, nearing the end of my cup of coffee. I might go to the bathroom soon. By myself. No toddler to tell, “Don’t touch that. Don’t touch that! DON’T TOUCH THAT!”, no baby strapped to my chest. I might even get another cup of coffee. And when I get home and cuddle my kiddos, and my hair gets pulled enough times that I tie it back and I take off my cute shoes and I throw on some sweat pants so I don’t flash the neighbors while tumbling in the grass with my son, it’ll all feel a little fresher, a little sweeter, because I will have stepped far enough away from my children to miss them, and the thousands of Hot Wheels all over my house, and the warm trickle of spit up on my shoulder, and the squeals and whines and giggles and screams. Such is the beauty of Mother’s Day Off.