“Talk!” My 2-year-old shouts in my face while he eats his breakfast. Every day.
You see, in order to get him to focus and eat, I started doing voices for each item on his plate. I did this one morning in a moment of desperation. We had to get out the door, and I couldn’t afford a 57-minute breakfast.
So I started singing as his waffle.
“I am a waffle! I am a tasty, tasty waffle.”
Anytime you do anything for a 2-year-old, you risk it becoming embedded into the fabric of your life. It quickly spread to making other inanimate objects around the house talk. I’ve made empty toilet paper rolls talk, toy cars, his orange water bottle, the Aquaphor I rub on his butt crack. Nothing is safe; he yells, “Talk!” for literally everything.
I’m performing a one-woman show seven days a week. And if I don’t give a full-out Tony Award-winning performance every time, my director chastises me. Or if I take my attention away for any reason, even for something important like gasping for air.
Even as I type these words, my toddler looms over me. I work from home, as does my husband. When my son isn’t sick AND there isn’t a holiday OR an outbreak of something, he’s at preschool during the week. But if any of those things should happen, we essentially roshambo to decide who has to be on kid duty and who gets to hide in our bedroom.
Today, I chose “rock” when I should have chosen “scissors.” Only I have shit to do, so we are surviving with PBS Kids playing in the background. I patiently tell my son not to hit my keyboard or yell “bonk” in my ear. But what I really wanna do is yell, “Bonk!” right back.
All this is to say ― if you’re wondering what I want for Mother’s Day, it’s not presents or a day of family togetherness. I want to sleep the fuck in and have my husband vacate the house with our child. They can take the dog, too.
I hate how an occasion that is supposedly for me has been co-opted into a day where I feel pressured to do activities I never wanted to do in the first place. Wanting a break from having to perform original musical numbers as a piece of dino chicken nugget doesn’t feel like a unique or edgy concept, either. So why is it so hard to talk about without feeling like a jerk?
On my first Mother’s Day as I entered motherhood, I was seven months pregnant, and it didn’t really occur to me to celebrate. We went to my in-laws’ house. It was May 2020, so we hunkered down in one corner of the backyard while they remained in another. Along with COVID fear, I was experiencing record-breaking water retention. Swollen, pregnant ankles are surprisingly painful. So I rotated ice packs and tried to balance my legs on a chair while we ate canapes. All I remember thinking was: At least next Mother’s Day, I’ll be able to drink water without it staying in my body forever.
When I was nine months pregnant, I was taking a walk in my neighborhood when I crossed paths with a woman about my age pushing a stroller. She asked how far along I was. I told her. And waited for the obligatory, “Congratulations,” or “Girl or boy?”
All she said was, “Good luck.” It came from a guttural place. “Goooood luck.” The letters hung in the air. I think about her often.
Motherhood is no joke. It’s wonderful, yes, but it’s also the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. So when moms get this one single day to be “celebrated,” performing the same parenting duties that we perform the rest of the year feels like … well, the opposite of a celebration.
My first official Mother’s Day snuck up on me. I was working full time from home with my then-10-month-old and didn’t feel up for much, so we did what all moms are supposed to do on Mother’s Day. We went to brunch!
In my 20s, brunch fucking ruled. And it was at an appropriate time of day, like 1 in the afternoon. And if there was a long wait, you just drank at the bar until you were seated. When you have a baby, however, brunch hits differently.
My husband rose to the occasion by taking us somewhere with white linen tablecloths. We arrived at our destination at 9:30 a.m. only to realize that — surprise! — we had no reservation. Yes, on Mother’s Day. My husband didn’t think we needed to call ahead.
So we went across the street to a chain brewery that screamed, “My husband dropped the ball.” It was empty and honestly kind of great, but I could have happily just stayed in bed.
So the third time around, I avoided the pressure of the day by spending it working on something I definitely could have rescheduled. My male co-worker had to leave early because the pregnant mother of his child was making him dinner. If that doesn’t prove what a crock this holiday is, I don’t know what does.
Oh, and then there are the gifts.
I asked my mom what I had given her for Mother’s Day when I was a kid. She couldn’t remember. “Maybe a handmade card?” She said, to her, Mother’s Day meant work. She had to send something to her mom and her mother-in-law. Some years she ended up responsible for the holiday preparations, not my father. It was never about what she wanted to do at all — which, from my experience, is par for the course.
I do remember one thing we got her for Mother’s Day. She had a Cherished Teddies displayed in her curio cabinet. If you’re unfamiliar, they’re a slightly less creepy version of Precious Moments figurines. I have no idea how it ended up there in the first place, or if she even liked it. But because she had this thing that she may have wanted once, and there were more of them in the world, that’s what we bought her for every holiday and special occasion.
When I reminded her about them, she said, “Oh, God. I have no idea why you gave them to me. Do you want them?”
In an effort to heal some generational trauma, I explicitly ask for what I want. I don’t believe that gifts are a necessary part of the day, but if I’m going to get something, I’d prefer it to be something I actually like. No ceramic bears for me — which is why last year my husband got me a huge Snoop Dogg vector art drawing. Much better than a stemless “mom juice” wine glass or a cozy robe in a neutral shade of taupe.
But this year, all I’m asking for is for everyone to give me a break. While I love my family dearly, I don’t want to hang out with them on Mother’s Day. I’ve already informed my husband that while he’s welcome to go to brunch, he’ll be taking our son. And leaving me at home.
Maybe I’ll binge some Bravo. Maybe I’ll doom-scroll until my eyes bleed. Or maybe I’ll just sit in silence, and enjoy a moment to myself. And enjoy one day where I’m just Christina, a human in this world, even though I happen to have a tiny person who depends on me for survival. I love my son 365 days a year. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for one day to do so at a slightly greater distance.
One more important thought. At my son’s preschool, moms get muffins for Mother’s Day. The dads get doughnuts. I love alliteration as much as the next person. But I want a fucking doughnut. And I just want to eat it, without having to make it talk.
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