Take your cone and shove it
I'm not buying what Mother's Day is selling. I know it tends to be a painful holiday for infertiles, because it brings reminder after excruciating reminder of what we don't have and might never get. But I have to confess that it didn't bother me before we had Charlie. In fact, it bothered me less then than it does now.
Yesterday was a magnificent day. It began with Paul bringing me eggs and toast in bed, which I ate lying on my side, not even sitting up, careful to butter his pillowcase and not my own. Paul got Charlie up and dressed while I luxuriated amid the crumbs. Then we went to the lakefront and watched an exultant Charlie roll in the grass like a puppy, looked for ducks, saw a dog take a swim. (This was unusual and exciting enough to make Charlie say to every other dog we saw, "Hello, dog! Howareyoudoinggreaaaat? Would you like to swim in the lake? Yes, you would!")
Then it was cheeseburgers for lunch, a quick trip to buy a new ironing board cover — the Mother's Day present I'd requested — and a stop at the ice cream factory. For Charlie, there was "a place of gamboling," which is what he calls a playground; Paul and I nursed our cones while we watched him rocket around the playscape, and he would make frequent pit stops, mouth open like a baby bird's, to receive a spoonful of chocolate before zooming off again.
But a strange thing happened when I went to get our ice cream. The man behind the counter asked, "Are any of these for mothers?" "Why?" I asked. "There's a discount," he told me.
And I thought, Fucking hell. I already have all this — the grass-roller, the dog-enticer, the gamboler — and you want to give me free ice cream besides?
When we got home, Charlie explicitly requested leftovers for dinner, peed in his scaled-down potty, happily splashed in the bathtub, was dressed for bed by Paul, and then, adopting the tone I reserve for wouldn't-it-be-fun, asked me, "Mama, would you like to pick me up and rock me?"
This morning when Charlie woke early, I wanted to stay in bed for a little while longer. I wanted Paul to deal with him while I lay drifting. I thought, "Can't it be Mother's Day again today?"
But I instantly knew that for the asshole thought it was. Every single day is Mother's Day around here. Although the effort is unrelenting, I am thanked for it in a hundred subtle ways: Charlie's friendly feelings towards others, even dogs, and his eagerness to share what he knows about having fun. His joy in acquiring new physical skills, fueled by the food — or at least the sugar and high-grade dairy fat — I've given him. His unquestioning knowledge that he has my affection. His desire to return it.
My God, I don't need free ice cream, too. I got a little angry yesterday. It all felt sort of stupid. I don't need flowers, or cards, or a steam-table brunch buffet. I don't need strangers wishing me a good day simply because of what my body finally managed to accomplish. I have that good day every day, regardless. I have Charlie.
I ache for those who don't have what I do, but every day, not just this Sunday. I know how lucky I am. On Mother's Day in particular, I don't want to be celebrated; I'm busy feeling humbled. I don't need to be thanked when I'm the one feeling grateful.