Mother’s Day is a pretty straightforward premise, just do something nice for your mom/step-mom/grandma/mother-in-law. Take your pick: send cards, pick flowers, plan outings, prepare elaborate meals, or all of the above. Then you become a mom and things get stickier. At least it did for me, and every year since I’ve found myself asking the same question, “Whose holiday is it, anyway?”
My first baby was three weeks old when Mother’s Day rolled around. Rapt in a newborn-haze, I completely overlooked my annual duties. I’d always been one to plan something special for the women that had given me so much love and nurturing (sure, the scheduled affection always felt trite, but hell if I was going to buck tradition). I’ll never forget my mom wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day that year, “It’s about you now, you're the new mom.” I may have been sleep deprived, but there was no missing her thinly veiled disappointment.
That baby is five now, her brother, four. Since then the moms in my life, I fear, have suffered a specialness-drought on Mother’s Day, myself included. Frustrations in our house hit a crescendo in mid-May, trying to keep atop of daily life while making special arrangements for my mom, step-mom, mother-in-law, prepare some special project from the grandkids—and all the while, I’m resenting the extra work because I really just want to go read on a quiet beach for an afternoon. I blurted out once, “I dread Mother’s Day.” My husband didn’t skip a beat in replying, “Not as much as I do.”
Mother’s Day stress—I know we aren’t alone in feeling it.
My fix was introducing a new tradition last year, Mamalode’s Mother’s Day Eve. I asked my mom to co-host it with me and we made it an adult mother-daughter affair. It felt like mom’s night off to my friends and me, and for our mothers, it was a welcome opportunity to just be one of the girls. Without any kids or men around, the pulse of the party was shockingly relaxed. As in, we were all shocked at how relaxed we were.
We kept it super simple, it was a non-mandatory potluck—it was more important that you show up then bring anything. Chocolate and wine were highly encouraged. There was no agenda, except for building a giant bonfire in my mom’s backyard pit. Some stayed inside, while others chose to sit under the stars. Conversations meandered from breastfeeding to wrestling with prepuberty behaviors in our daughters (the horror!) to vajazzles (the horror!)
For as fussy as women are sometimes, it’s amazing how easy we can be to please. Honestly, I think most of us were just craving some time to slow down and truly connect through some rare uninterrupted conversation. Just a little of that was so healing, and as our guests left they all requested Mother’s Day Eve become a standing tradition.
Thanks to Mother’s Day Eve my mom and I got out “something special” together (mother-in-law, too). The next day I was free to go to the beach—not alone with a book, as I’d fantasized, but with the family. My mom-friends and I caught some waves with our kids, then sneaked off to do a quick downwind-run on our SUPs, and that was dreamy enough to make it a perfect Mother’s Day.