This Sunday, my family will try. We're planning a "nice day" together, but the resentment, sulkiness and "why-can't-I-just-be-with-my-friends" sentiments are palpable already. At the moment, my family is awfully far away from a greeting-card, Pinterest-worthy Mother's Day celebration.
Listen. My oldest child is 17 and in the throes of his adolescent "identity crisis" (Erickson, 1968). I am 46; the evidence of aging in my body and in my parents--all of whom I expected to stay young and healthy forever--hits me daily like so many unexpected and violent slaps to my wrinkled face.
Lately, our little family has struggled with death and disillusionment; some of my core beliefs have been shaken as if by hurricane winds; we've been battening down hatches and trying to get some footing in the storm. Even the dog is going senile, doing his personal best to unravel my sanity with his barking (at everything, at nothing, all the livelong day).
A Mother's Day full of appreciation and warm feelings and "I love you, Mommy" breakfast-in-bed is deeply unlikely. The children who honored me by making me a mother? Well, they resent my very existence, and most especially the mother-y things I do. It's confusing. We'll spend part of the day celebrating my mom, of course--which is right and good--but even that is confounding. I don't know about you, but patterns of misery with my adolescent children tend to agitate miserable memories from my own mis-spent youth.
I know this much: expecting an imperfect Mother's Day celebration is the only way to guarantee a good time. Sunday will be special because my husband and I will do our best to remain present and open--even in the midst of adolescent grumbling--to the spontaneous joy of being together. The more I let go of commercialized visions of My Perfect Mother's Day, the better my day is bound to be.
In the meanwhile, here are a few authentic Mother's Day sentiments my teenagers might express if they thought they could get away with it. Because sometimes, keepin' it real is the best way to face the hype of the holidays.
You don’t even have sense enough to drink when somebody brings you a cup of consecrated chicken soup — which is the only kind of chicken soup Bessie ever brings to anybody around this madhouse. - J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey