Mother’s Day, a day so many women — especially new moms — look forward to. And also the day so many men fear.
What could a dad possibly give to a woman that eloquently sums up her pivotal role in the circle of life? How can he pick a gift that would measure up to the act of creating human life, incubating it, then birthing a watermelon-sized being? To say nothing of the actual act of raising said human with nothing but grace and rainbows every day (okay, not every day). It’s a daunting task.
So, bless his heart, new dad usually goes with the typical Mother’s Day standbys you see in commercials every year where the actress portraying the mom seems so damn happy to be receiving those flowers/candy/stuffed animal/heart pendant/coffee mug, etc.
Or maybe dad thinks that getting the kids involved is a superb way to show just how much mom means to the family. Breakfast in bed is cute, right? No. Please, dear god, no.
All this means is mom wakes to the smell of burnt toast and kids crying over who is placing the blueberries in the pancakes. Then mom has to pretend to still be asleep so the kids get the joy of waking her up to serve her breakfast on her special day.
Inevitably, syrup gets spilled on the comforter, which means a load of laundry for mom. After not losing her shit over the syrup spill (See? Grace!) mom goes to the kitchen to find what could only be described as a post-tornadic scene. Every pan used, eggs dripping from counters, cabinets covered in flour.
So to sum up the breakfast-in-bed experience: Mom wakes up early to eat burnt toast, is sticky from spilled syrup, is now on laundry duty, and has a kitchen to clean up. Thanks, but no thanks.
Here’s another common Mother’s Day trap: brunch. It sounds like a picture-perfect way to celebrate the holiday. Get the kids dressed up, head out to mom’s favorite restaurant, enjoy a nice leisurely meal, snap a few family pics to remember the occasion. Sounds amazing.
In reality, brunch is more like a three-hour fight. Fighting with the kids to get dressed in nice clothes. Fighting the crowd at the restaurant because everyone had the same great idea as you. Fighting the urge to just bail after one of your kids has a meltdown before drinks are even ordered. And, finally, fighting to get a decent picture of the whole family that captures a completely different memory of what actually happened that day.
But fear not, dad. For I am here to let you in on a dirty little secret that most moms won’t admit. You want to know why? Because what we really want for Mother’s Day is this:
We don’t want to mom on Mother’s Day.
Yup, that’s right. We love our kids. We love our partners. But dammit, we are all in 364 days of the year, so for one day, we want to be out.
You know what we do want? SLEEP. So much sleep. Uninterrupted sleep. And a nap. Maybe two naps. And no cooking. No dishes. No laundry. No breaking up fights. No refilling milk cups. No changing diapers. No getting up with the kids in the middle of the night. We are out.
And by out, I mean we are out to our favorite shop. Or nail salon. Or bar. Or curled up alone with a good book. Or all of those things. Because we don’t remember the last time we had an adult conversation that wasn’t interrupted with “Mom!” We still have paint on our toes from that pedicure we got at the end of last summer. And we want to roam the aisles of Target without an exit strategy in mind.
To end the day, we want to come back home just in time to give our kids a sweet kiss goodnight, narrowly and perfectly missing the bedtime chaos.
And if you think this is a single opinion held only by me, you would be wrong. I asked 80 moms of young kids what they really wanted for Mother’s Day. The overwhelming winner was sleep. Up second was pampering. And coming in third was a nice dinner out with the hubby.
So to all the new dads out there sweating what to get your queen, here’s a hint: Skip the flowers. What moms want is the anti-Mother’s Day. Whatever your gut instincts are telling you, ignore them. And come through for us with the sweet oasis of a quiet bedroom, an uninterrupted shower, a nice dinner out. An actual day for mom.
Because having to tap into our reserves of grace and rainbows every day is exhausting. We need this.