I hate Mother’s Day and feel so guilty saying it, but it’s the goddamn truth. My mother is still alive and so is my grandmother. With my five-year-old daughter, we can pose for a “four-generation of women” photo and enjoy a picturesque brunch where a vase of tulips holds down the cream-colored linen tablecloths. Only this doesn’t happen, nor would it ever with the parties involved. My five-year-old would enjoy a tea party, but she’d be alone with her dolls.
My grandmother is mostly confined to the same Queens apartment she has lived in during her entire 40 years in America. With her limited mobility, since my grandfather died two years ago, we are resigned to visits at her apartment, which unfortunately smells more like a stale, old person mixed with Clorox bleach than fresh florals. My mother visits my grandmother every Sunday so she is guaranteed to be there on Mother’s Day, the day I feel pathetically sorry for myself .
I should wake up with a jump, elated at how lucky I am to have not one, but two healthy, brilliant, loving children who will somehow screw up breakfast in bed and instead wake me up asking me how to do it. My husband will have the best intentions, but I will hear their commotion while he manages to not hear nothing and instead, snoozes. Eventually, he will tell me to stay in bed because it’s fucking Mother’s Day and my joy is supposed to come in the form of laying in bed, listening to a mess being created, (which I will have to clean up later), eating breakfast in bed (love the crumbs) earlier than I ever want to eat, and then going to see my grandmother and my mother.
My mother and my grandmother often bicker. My grandmother mostly communicates in Russian so I am the translator and everyone talks at me (rather than to me) at once. This is when I feel like putting my hands over my ears and throwing a temper tantrum like a two-year-old and screaming, “Hey, which part of this is for me?”
I could grow a pair of balls and confess to what I really want: a day alone. I could tell my mom and grandmother I will come on another day, but the guilt will eat me up. I won’t’ be able to enjoy my day because this guilt will slowly dissolve my stomach lining until I have a stomachache, diarrhea, am nauseous or the grand trifecta of guilt-induced IBS.
“Do whatever you want to do,” my son says.
“I want to be alone with no one bothering me for anything, asking me for anything, without me having to think about anyone else.”
“So do that,” he said, without a care in the world, because he has two backup parents (dad and step-dad) who will attend to most of whatever a 14-year-old can’t handle himself.
I pretend the holiday is not for me. Since I’ve only held the title for 14 years, my “Mother’s Day” could begin after I’ve paid my maternal respects. Only by then I’m exhausted from cheerleading everyone out the door and back into the car when it’s time to leave. It’s my “day” so it’s my “pick” where we go and what’s for lunch and what’s for dinner (as opposed to every other day when I get to “decide.”) I love spending my day sucked into a screen between Google and Yelp trying to find “that perfect place.”
I curse Hallmark for this holiday; making me feel like I’m entitled to something I wouldn’t know I was missing. Motherhood isn’t about flowers or chocolate or brunch. There shouldn’t be a day to be grateful for your mother any more than there should be one to say I love you. Mother’s Day is every day you’re alive and someone calls you mom.