On Mother’s Day, I Have To Pretend I Want To Spend Time With My Family

mother's day giftsMother’s Day is just around the corner, and I have yet to hear a single mother out there say that all she wants is to spend the day with her family. In fact, most moms I know are itching to get away from their children on Mother’s Day. Just yesterday, I ran into someone at the gym – a happily married mother of two – who boasted that she’d be spending Mother’s Day alone at a downtown hotel and spa; her husband had booked a little staycation for the two of them, but she ultimately convinced him to let her enjoy it solo. I was jealous beyond belief and, as it turns out, so is every single woman with whom I’ve shared this  story over the past 24 hours.

“That’s what I want!” they’ll exclaim all dreamy-eyed – and I know exactly what they mean. Because, let’s face it, we’re not looking for roses and love poems on Mother’s Day. Nor is it jewelry or gift cards or even breakfast in bed. No, there is one thing all mothers crave on this holiest of Hallmark days, and that would be some peace and quiet. That’s right, peace and quiet – which means time away from our whiny children and, yes, time away from our spouse.

Some women feel differently. To them, Mother’s Day is all about being appreciated for the job they do each and every day.  These are the moms who want nothing more than to be with their children on Mother’s Day, because isn’t that what it’s all about (i.e., celebrating motherhood)? I get that, and I can appreciate it. But it’s just not me. That’s because I view Mother’s Day as more of an excuse to take the day off (“It’s like a get-out-of-jail-free card,” is how one friend describes it).

The truth is, most of us spend every waking minute of every day caring for – or at least thinking about – our children. Even if we’re at work, or on vacation, or in a 90-minute meditative yoga class, they are always in our thoughts – and I, for one, can never just turn it all off (you know, that switch in my head that wonders if they’re happy and safe, if I packed a big enough lunch, if they’re over-programmed or rather not active enough… the list goes on and on). And so, on Mother’s Day, I want to shut that switch off, if even for just an hour or two.

I want to sleep in late, lounge around, sip coffee, read the paper, go to Bikram, take a nap, go for a walk, browse a bookstore, buy a summer scarf, sit on a patio, meet friends, drink wine, eat dinner, and breathe. I want to know that my kids are having the time of their lives with their dad and that they barely even notice I’m gone (we’re talking 24 hours here, people). That is precisely what I want for Mother’s Day, and I can say with all certainty that this is what 100% of my friends want, too.

Granted, I’m lucky enough to be able to accomplish at least one or two of these items each weekend (Bikram, for example, and certainly the wine bit). I’m grateful to have a supportive husband and health kids, and I am grateful to be a mother. But that doesn’t change the fact that I want all of these above items at once, in a single day, and I want them guilt-free. As I type this, I realize that the whole guilt thing is really what kills the Mother’s Day buzz for most moms; we’re supposed to want to spend time with our family when really we want anything but. We want a day of rest, dammit!

Like most moms, however – gym buddy excluded – I’ll be spending Mother’s Day with my family, hosting brunch (followed by Mother’s Day dinner with my in-laws). There are way worse things in life, I’m well aware, but that doesn’t change the fact that if I had my way, I’d be spending May 13th in solitude. And, as my sister so wisely pointed out earlier today, maybe we all need to be more open with our husbands/partners and children. Maybe we should tell them point-blank, “I want to be alone on Mother’s Day.” That way, we can take a break, recharge our batteries and, ultimately, be better mothers during the other 364 days of the year.

(Photo: donskarpo/Shutterstock)

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    • Goodieb

      I couldn’t agree more with this, just as I think Father’s Day should be the same way. A day off from doing work, chores, or being at someone’s beckon call is needed every now and again. My husband and I reach a compromise this year – breakfast with the family then off to the spa with the ladies for some pampering and cocktails. I haven’t been this excited about Mother’s Day since my first one!

    • LiteBrite

      Every Mother’s Day is spent running around to three different mothers (mom, stepmom, MIL). I have yet to spend a Mother’s Day by myself, doing what **I** want to do. When asked what I wanted for Mother’s Day this year, my answer to my husband was “You and the boy out of the house. ALL DAY.” (FYI, I don’t think I’m getting that. I am getting the screen door I’ve been asking for five years for though.)

      Someone will probably come along and tell me to quit my bitching, First World problems, be grateful you have mothers to spend the day with, etc. I agree. However, a woman still can dream of a Mother’s Day that is actually HER day to do what she wants.

      • Andrea

        I hate it when people use the phrase “1st world problem” or worse “white whine”. Just because it’s not as bad as it could be doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck.

        What I say to you, is do whatever you want to do. It’s ONE day a year. I’m guessing you are pretty selfless and do for others all year round. Just get out of the house and do whatever the hell you want to do. I know the house to yourself is what you want, but if you can’t make that happen, pack a bag and check in to the best hotel you can afford and do whatever you want to do.

        It’s easier (sometimes) to ask forgiveness than permission.

    • kims

      a whole 24 hrs without my daughter up my nose… what a fantasy!

    • The Mommy Psychologist

      Last year, I spent Mother’s Day weekend on a a woman’s retreat. My choice. It was the very first weekend that I have ever spent alone since having my son. It was absolutely lovely. The best gift I could get for Mother’s Day was being allowed a piece of quality me time. I talk about it here:
      http://www.themommypsychologist.com/2012/05/07/martha-stewart-is-gonna-barf-all-over-my-week/

    • Cindie Orange Cook

      There’s nothing wrong with that. You want some alone time, it’s YOUR day, you should be given it!

    • Katie

      I love spending time with my family, it brings me a lot of joy.

    • Rebecca

      Totally agree. I spend all day every day with my kids and my husband works from home a few days a week, so family time is not something we’re lacking. I spend mothers day with my mom, shopping, lunch, whatever. She has a sort of mother’s day club with her girlfriends, and they’ve included their daughters once they have children of their own, so it’s a nice generational tradition

    • Kate

      I get the best of both worlds: Mothers Day (and Fathers Day) in our house is a day off of EVERYTHING. On Mothers Day, I do what I want, when I want to do it. But I don’t leave my house. I get waited on hand and foot by my husband. He does all of the cooking, cleaning, refereeing, punishing, etc. And I get all of the hugs, cuddles, booze, and joy. I love Mothers Day – its my favorite day of the year.

    • Mira

      You know who gets to live like this every weekend? Women without kids. I’m not gonna lie, it’s pretty sweet.