We actually do want a day off. A lazy day in bed with a good book and tea on tap, maybe? A trip to the day spa might be nice. Or a long uninterrupted lunch with friends. But… at the heart of Mother’s day, I don’t think ‘a day off’ is what most mothers really want.
In the countless interviews I’ve done about Mother’s Day over the years, what I want always comes up in questions. I’ve thought about this, and asked hundreds of mothers the same, and there is a repetitive response that echoes my own. It is this: What we really want for Mother’s Day is a day to spend with family that we don’t have to be responsible for. Sure, a day off is great, but it’s the continued mental load mothers often carry that renders us so exhausted.
A typical school day for me involves a family meeting to ascertain how logistically we can get through the day, hopefully with everyone’s emotions in tact. Who has what before/after school? What notes do I need to sign? Where’s some money for the Mother’s Day stall? Did you eat breakfast? Yes, you have to brush your teeth in the morning AND at night (we’ve only been doing this for 10 years). Who ate all the ham that I was going to use for sandwiches? What?! You left your shoes outside and now they are wet? WHERE ARE ALL THE SOCKS IN THE WORLD? In my head, it’s like I run simultaneous lines that account for those in my care (and myself somewhere too). It’s relentless.
Anyone who knows me on a personal level will understand how I strive to run a household where everyone is responsible. And it does work over the long term. My teens are incredibly independent and helpful around the house. However, someone still has to be the family manager. That’s me.
The gift I really want is a day off – not from my family – but from being family manager. Come to me in the morning of Mother’s Day, with a thoroughly thought out daypack with everything needed for an enjoyable day in the fresh air. Think: a basket with sunscreen, hats, water bottles, a picnic mat, food, cheese, wine, a frizbee maybe. Let me be carefree as I enjoy a day with the most precious people in the world.