I know Mother’s Day was last week, but I was busy with Jesus Christ Superstar, and as I’m a muthah 365 days a year, I didn’t feel the need to rush. Also, there is so much Mother’s Day lovers and haters hoopla now on the internet, I’m only just now poking my head out over the motherhood sandbagged front line to see if it’s safe. A ceasefire seems to have been called. At least until May 2016 or the next “Lean In to Tiger Mother Hidden Dragon” book.
I hold on to things, I admit it. It’s not my best trait, but there it is. When my son was about four, all I wanted to do for Mother’s Day was go to IHOP for breakfast. That’s it. But my kid being four, he wasn’t really into it. I got that time-honored whiny lament, “There’s a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day, but when is it Kid’s Day?” To which every parent on the planet will say, “Every day is effin’ kid’s day, you little S.O.B.!” But when your kid is four and has an overdeveloped sense of fairness based in concrete words, it’s hard to explain. I should have stayed home and made myself breakfast (screw everyone else, it’s MY day!) and enjoyed myself. But that seemed too much like giving in to my kid’s complaining, so what’s the right thing to do? I have no idea, but it definitely was not what I ended up doing—drag us all to IHOP, wait for 45 minutes to sit down, and then have a silent, crabby breakfast, while my kid refused to eat anything. I know, right about now my parent’s generation is shaking their heads, and everyone who parents better than I do is rolling eyeballs and running to a computer to write their new blog, “10 Things Today’s Parent Are Doing Completely, Utterly Wrong, Please Arrest Them.” You’ll have to forgive my choices, I get confused a lot because I’m either being accused of being too permissive or I’m not being protective enough; honestly, it’s hard to keep track.
But I digress.
So that Mother’s Day was pretty much a disaster. Then my then-mother-in-law moved to be closer to us, so Mother’s Day became focused mostly on her and my own mother. I was more the coordinator for celebrating the senior mothers, and that was OK. Because honestly, every year all I could think about was that miserable hour and a half spent trying to have breakfast and being painfully reminded that mothering is hard. And perhaps it’s even harder on that day when you’re supposed to be “honored,” but more often than not you’re glaring at your incredibly ungrateful offspring over a giant stack of cooling pancakes and congealed bacon.
It was my coworker who set me straight. Near Mother’s Day a number of years ago, but a decent number of years after “The IHOP Incident,” I was recounting said incident and explaining why I didn’t really like to make Mother’s day plans. My coworker, also a mother, waited a moment, then looked me in the eye and said, “Lucas was four. You gotta let that go.” And she was right. The story had taken over every opportunity to do something different.
But then I got divorced, and there’s nothing more awkward than the years of pre-during-post divorce Mothers’ Days. This year I was finally able to at least contemplate a baggage-free Mother’s Day, and when another coworker suggested a trip to the beach for ice cream, it sounded perfect. We used to live around the corner from the beach, and now we live two miles away, and you know how that goes. I know people who travel hours to get to the beach want to slap me right now, and you’d be absolutely right to do so, which made it all the more reason to go.
On Friday before Mother’s Day, my son said his sci-fi appreciating English teacher recommend a movie, “Ex Machina.” I’d read a review of it in the newspaper (how old school of me, I know) and thought it sounded cool. Then because I seem more inclined to read reviews and not get my ass up and out to actually see the movie, I promptly forgot all about it. But Lucas was up for seeing a movie with his old ma, so that’s what we did, and then went to the beach for ice cream. Perfect.
That’s the Facebook version.
The real version is we went to the movie (which I highly recommend if you’re into movies that look at the morality of creating an artificial intelligence in a mind-twisting way) and then we had a brief but significant discussion about the ending and the consequences of the characters’ actions. Anyone with a teenager will understand that is like winning the parental lottery. Significant, meaningful discussion. About emotions. With a teen. Yeah. Then we went to the beach for ice cream , and by that I mean we crawled 5 miles an hour looking for a parking space. We found a 15-minute one, pulled over got the ice cream and made it back to the car in 14 minutes. Then we pulled out and proceeded to crawl 5 miles an hour to the end of the beach and then headed home. I did get to see and smell the beach and had ice cream with my kid with nary a whine or glare. Perfect.
Photo credit: Sanctuary Yoga