For me, Mother’s Day really began at midnight last night.
Ansel, who has been a pretty good sleeper for the past six months, was really wired and needed a whole lot of help going back to sleep after waking up in the middle of the night. I think I went into his room four separate times, but it’s hard to remember. The last time I was so tired that I laid down on the floor next to his crib and sang him songs until I was pretty sure he had fallen asleep.
One thing that really annoys me is when people talk about how “beautiful” parenting or motherhood is. When I was laying on the floor singing my made-up lyrics of “Hush Little Baby,” I did not think there was anything beautiful about it. I wanted to go back to my bed. I’m pretty sure I was singing some expletives in my head.
A cliche of parenthood is that it is the best job you’ll ever have.
You want to know the best job I ever had? Being a summer camp counselor. Really, it doesn’t get better than spending the summer outdoors with other goofy young people on more-or-less a commune-style living situation. Then there are the nightly campfires, costume nights, and practical jokes on other cabins.
When you are a summer camp counselor, no one questions if you read enough books on child development or if you are being too permissive or helicopterish or strict or if you are attached enough. No one judges you for your actions as a summer camp counselor. I never once googled a weird symptom a camper had. Who am I kidding, though – I didn’t have internet as a camp counselor, otherwise my internet history would have been “ringworm?,” “pink eye?” and “is pee sterile?”
Plus, as far as I know there aren’t ridiculous “lifestyle blogs” that portray summer camp counselors as if they were posing in an Anthropologie catalogue. Can you imagine those captions?
“Camp adventurously! Linen shorts and floral tees give you #hero status and are oh-so-easy-breezy while you check mattresses for bedwetters!”
My point is, motherhood (and parenthood more broadly) can be full of headaches, self-doubt, and big challenges. The whole experience just makes you so damn vulnerable! And its soul-consuming! And it digs into all of your inner-most fears and anxieties – including ones that you didn’t know you had! Not to mention the slew of challenges from attempting to “have it all” in terms of a family and career. (Please see this bit – particularly starting around minute 2 – by the incredible Michelle Wolf).
Last night I picked my own mother up from the airport after she had been in Europe for about a month. One of the biggest impacts of parenting on me is that being a mom makes me infinitely more thankful for my own mom. I think about all of the times she must have struggled or been exhausted, but was persistently great despite it all. And hey, she got through it, so hopefully so can I?
Mother’s Day means a lot of different things for different people. I know it can be a painful day for some, a joyful day for others. For me, Mother’s Day is an opportunity to honor my own mom and accepting myself for the mom I am, in all of my imperfections and messiness.
So for Mother’s Day I made myself one of my favorite desserts ever, a pavlova with berries. It’s a cloud of meringue covered in fresh whipped cream and a mound of berries with raspberry sauce. It is a dream of a dessert. (See here for the recipe.)
We had homemade brunch with my mom, plus pavlova, and then took a long walk in the woods with Ansel and Sadie.
Even though parenthood may not be the “best job I ever had,” it is for sure the most fulfilling for me. Tromping in the woods, climbing on logs, jumping on roots, and listening to birds with my son was just plain sweet.
Happy Mother’s Day to those celebrating! A peaceful Mother’s Day to anyone in pain or struggling.