Since my family lives in extreme isolation on a remote cattle ranch far from town, we are insulated from the pressure to celebrate Mother’s Day the commercially advertised way. I don’t expect to receive a bouquet of fresh-cut flowers, but I’m pretty sure at least one member of the family will step on a goat head and track it into the house. My husband is camped out on the ranch working cattle with the rest of the cowboy crew, so the only way I will get breakfast in bed is if I grab my hidden stash of Oreos and hide under the covers while the kids watch a movie.
As it turns out, Mother’s Day was never intended to be celebrated in the typical modern-day fashion. Silver necklaces, elaborate flower arrangements, and brunch reservations were not what its founder had in mind. When Anna Jarvis held the first official American Mother’s Day celebration in 1908, she wanted to honor her late mother in a simple fashion. She envisioned mothers everywhere wearing white carnations pinned to their lapels and receiving handmade cards from their children.
Jarvis spent several years launching her vision into a national holiday. She wrote countless letters to Congressmen, state governors, and the President. As a childless woman, she had time for such things. Shortly after Mother’s Day really took off, Jarvis spent the rest of her life fighting against the expense and commercialization of the event.
If that doesn’t just about sum up motherhood, paint me pink and call me a flamingo.
Before I had children, I daydreamed of having a houseful of the little crumb snatchers. Babies were so cute and small; how could they possibly be expensive? I figured we should have at least five. Shortly after the birth of my first baby, I frantically reviewed the hospital paperwork for a return policy. This infant cried a lot, didn’t sleep, and made weird noises. Surely she was some kind of defective prototype.
I didn’t find a money-back guarantee, but I did see my name on a two-year monthly payment plan. When we paid off that bill, the celebrating was short-lived. The baby seemed to have been born with one hand holding a pacifier and the other hand wrapped firmly around a credit card. If she ate it, pooped on it, or outgrew it, we had to buy a replacement ASAP. And she ate, pooped on, or outgrew everything in the house. It was like living with a tiny Tazmanian She-Devil.
By contrast, the mothers portrayed on $5 greeting cards never refer to their offspring as devils. These women are described as endlessly patient, perpetually smiling, and selfless to a fault. I am 100% certain I could be this mom, provided I wake up tomorrow morning as a different person.
Overall, I enjoy raising children. But, there are days that I would trade motherhood for a bowl of ice cream and a hot bath. My kids know this, which is probably why they won’t let me take a bath by myself this coming Sunday. They’re afraid I’ll never get out. If I eat breakfast in bed, at least I can stick an arm out and hand them cookies.
While it may not be commercially profitable, sometimes snuggling under the blankets with a box of Oreos is the perfect way to say “I love you, and I love that you love me.” It’s not a white carnation, but I’ll take it.
Here’s a picture of me and my first baby, my now five-year-old daughter Grace, whom I thankfully did not return.