Heartwarming gifts, a long lie-in and an endless supply of picture perfect moments for your Facebook feed? With Mother’s Day almost upon us, it might be time for a reality check…
Mother’s Day. The one day of the year that’s all about you wonderful you. The sacrifices, the vomit, the endless hours spent driving to and from swimming lessons/soccer training/gymnastics, followed by even more hours waiting around for them to be done, the weekends spent standing on the sidelines of cold, soggy fields, not to mention that time you single-handedly constructed an icy pole fortress for school with nothing but your bare teeth. This is the moment it all comes back to you.
In theory, at least. In reality, if you’ve already got a few Mothers Days under your belt, you’re well aware of the dangers of setting your expectations too high. But even with the bar set so low it’s practically scraping the floor – everyone’s busy and however they choose to mark the day, you know they’ll do their absolute best – you’re still hopeful for a few things; a decent lie-in that will, with a bit of luck, be the first one you’ve had all year without any warm, little middle-of-the-night intruders creeping into your bed to steal the duvet and play Crossy Road (loudly) on your iPhone while you’re dreaming about Javier Bardem; someone else cooking breakfast; a lovingly homemade card or two.
And you’ve trained them well, leading by example being the best way to impart important life lessons and all. There’s the annual party you spend weeks organising for 45 of their closest and most beloved school friends. And their siblings. The limited edition Minecraft Lego set they had to be physically prised away from in Kmart back in January that you’ve been secretly paying off for their birthday ever since (this one is actually something of a moot point; generally by the time the big day comes around, they’ll gaily announce they hate Lego, and Minecraft’s for losers).
Things get off to a promising start. The Mother’s Day breakfast part, they’re all over. This you know from the peals of laughter and cacophony of crashing pots, followed, inevitably, by angry shouting coming from the kitchen some time before the sun comes up. You cringe, push aside every instinct to get up and take over, and bury your head under the pillow. It is your day, after all.
Just as Javier is about to make his reappearance, you get shaken awake and proudly presented with the world’s worst cup of tea. Cold, milky and you suspect they forgot the teabag. With crusty eyes and a smile of delight plastered to your face, you knock it back in one go (this is not your first time round the block, after all), while shooting secret dagger eyes at your husband. Really, with him supervising, is it really too much to ask that it’s at least warm? He would argue that it’s taken you too long to get up. And you would counter that at 5.45am in the morning, he’s lucky you didn’t shove the whole down his shorts.
Next up, Junior One thrusts two large gobs of butter with a bit of toast stuck to the bottom your way, along with a crumpled-up drawing of an overweight unicorn (‘It’s you Mummy! You can fly!’ Hmm, the way you see it, he’s got Buckley’s chance of ever making it airborne). Meanwhile, Junior Two takes position at the end of the bed, ready to recite the sixteen-verse poem he’s spent the last two weeks lovingly crafting at school. The sentiments are beautiful, your eyes fill with tears, but still, by the time he hits verse nine, you can’t help wishing you still had a bit of that cold tea left to wash the whole experience down.
Then it’s time for the gifts. They’re particularly excited about this bit, and so are you. Your kids are canny creatures, after all, and there’s no doubt in your mind they will have taken note of the hint – and the very detailed instructions – about where to find the spa voucher and the box of Haigh’s champagne truffles you cunningly hid at the back of the Mother’s Day stand when you were up at school last week (three and a half hours of wrapping cellophane around other mothers’ presents does have its advantages). Yet still, you are presented with the mug. Again. You will add it to your collection. You smile and kiss them and tell them you love your mug – who wouldn’t want to drink their coffee out of something inscribed ‘World’s Okayest Mum’? – while secretly wondering who scored the chocolates.
At this point someone will suggest going out for brunch. Fabulous idea. Only nobody’s thought to book, forgetting, of course, that this is the one day of the year you actually have to reserve a table, even at the dodgy little café up the road. You all head up there anyway, just on the off-chance, where by miracle you spot a free table down the back next to the toilets. However, despite the $64,000 you have spent on watery takeaway lattes at said establishment over the past five years and the fact that you always, without fail, remember to ask after the manager’s ageing mother with the double hip replacement, he will not bend on his ‘reservations only’ rule, leaving you forced to huddle outside in the cold, watching all the other mothers enjoy their buckwheat and smoked salmon pancakes through the window.
Some time later, you will head home and it will begin to rain. Windows and doors will be sealed shut, heaters will be cranked up to the max, and in that steamy, sauna-like setting two small people will launch a verbal attack that will last for hours; Are you having a great Mother’s Day?/ Is it better than last Mother’s Day/ The best Mother’s Day of your life?/ Rate it on a scale of one to ten/ What’s been your best so far/ What do you want to do for next Mother’s Day/ Should we start planning Father’s Day? Thankfully, after a while it will all just become white noise and you can get back to the very important business of unfriending your friend who got the chocolates AND the spa voucher, and is now splashing the fact all over social media. #soblessed indeed.
So to all of you out there who might be spending this Sunday not lounging around in bed till midday with a lovely massage or shopping spree to look forward to, but standing in half a metre of mud next to a soggy sports field with a cold sausage sandwich in your hand, carpooling a gaggle of toddlers across town to yet another birthday party, while they sing along to the extended version of Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off, or up to the elbows in pipe cleaners and glue ‘helping’ your child with his homework assignment, all the while secretly counting down the minutes till school starts on Monday, I wish you the very happiest of Mother’s Days. Love is in the thought, not the execution. And they’re yours, after all – what better Mother’s Day gift is there than that?