So, I started this open letter to my kids on Mother’s Day. It went like this:
HEY! HEEEEYYY! GUYS!!!
Yes, I was shouting because I have to shout, not because I’m angry but because they all wear EarPods or whatever those things are called. All. Day. Long. It’s tricky to get their attention.
I started typing because I was feeling a little neglected as pictures popped up on people’s social media feeds of amazing breakfasts in bed. My kids slept until at least 9, long after I’d gone wogging (walking + jogging = really, really slow running!) and showered and read the paper and eaten a breakfast my husband thoughtfully brought home for me.
“I thought about making you breakfast,” No. 3 said. “But that was at midnight, and you get up so early and that would have only been six hours of sleep.”
This confession did not help my mood. Nor did the fact that everyone *did* wish me a HMD, but immediately squirreled themselves away in their rooms to do homework, study for AP exams and/or play Fortnite and watch TikToks.
I tried to gather my thoughts about what exactly I’d say in this letter, in between online shopping to get myself a consolation Mother’s Day prize.
I told them straight up the night before that I wanted a back rub from each of them and to do their chore — yes, singular — without me having to ask. Aside from that, they know the drill: I don’t expect or want gifts (except for that cute, super-discounted zebra top from Anthropologie that I just got the shipping notice for). All I ever want from them is to do some nice thing for me to show I’m appreciated.
No one gets into this mothering business for the money. Or the fame. Or the accolades. Which is good. Because you get NONE of that.
Parenting is no more sleeping, nonstop breastfeeding until you feel like the life force is being sucked out of you, cleaning up the nastiest, toxic, human-made environmental disasters ever contained in a flimsy diaper, and then later things segue into eye-rolling and backtalk and that’s just age 4. Don’t get me started on the teen years.
So I was still trying to think of how to say this all tactfully and in a way that doesn’t automatically trigger eye-rolling* after no one offered to make me lunch or pay off that back-rub debt when it was time to pay my own mother a visit.
On the car ride home, No. 1 — who was behind the wheel — fired up one of my favorite songs. That simple act changed everything.
“I try to discover, a little something to make me sweeter…”
“Yes!” I shouted from the back seat. Yes back seat because I wanted to feel like I was being chauffeured around.
And I started singing, loudly, because that’s how I do it.
No. 3 gamely mumbled along. “I don’t know all the words,” he said.
I pulled the lyrics up on my phone and we both shout-sang.
“Oh my gawd…” complained No. 2.
We sang even louder.
“OH, BABY PLEASE GIVE A LITTLE RESPECT TOOOO MEEEEEEEE!!!”**
And then it started to rain, which I had been hoping for ever since I saw the sliver of possibility in the forecast. And like that my Mother’s Day went from meh to “Awwwww! I feel loved!”
What can I say? I have a low bar, which is highly recommended if you are a mom.
No one did anything or really said anything because they were waiting until after dinner to present me with homemade cards, including one coded card from No. 3, who’s studying computer science. He crafted a funny quiz and in the grand tradition of his father, got some of the answers wrong, resulting in an incorrect low score for me. Still, I was impressed with his effort. No. 2 had already promised me a back rub in her card, even before I’d asked, and No. 1 spent her own money to buy me a snappy looking pair of sweatpants. Also, my husband thoughtfully got me a FitBit, a gizmo I’d been thinking I wanted, which means he pays more attention to my online history shopping searches than he lets on.
“You know you guys, I loved the cards and gifts. Thank you. They made me feel special and I gotta admit, I was worried because, well, you pretty much ignored me all day.”
“OK, Mom,” No. 1 said, taking on that special tone daughters reserve for their mothers when they’re annoyed. “I guess next time we’ll have to celebrate earlier.”
I’m pretty sure there was an eye roll in there, but it’s too late — I already know they love me.
*It’s a behavior that lasts well into adulthood.
**If you didn’t already recognize, I’m talking about Erasure’s “A Little Respect.” If you don’t know it already, look it up. It’s catchy.