I had the most wonderful Mother’s Day yesterday. The day shall live on my mind as a rare and sweet pinnacle of days. I woke up to my children fighting. That part is not the pinnacle. But they were fighting over who was going to be the first to give me the mother’s day card they created for me. Benjamin made me a picture covered in “x’s” (ironic because he finds kissing to be “yucky”) with a Dum-Dum candy sucker taped to the bottom and written across the top in his sweet scrawl was,
“I love you infinity times infinity.” He also made a drawing of the two of us hugging, surrounded by flowers and a card with a miniature version of the same drawing. Both boys raided my beading supplies and made me a pair of surprisingly tasteful earrings. I got to do my favorite thing all day long: boss everyone around go around Greenlake, play in the garden, read the paper, eat stinky cheese and smoked trout on French bread on the living room floor, soak in our hot tub, and take the kids to the beach where they harassed baby crabs and I watched an ethereal Blue Heron fishing. My sweet and indulgent husband failed to get me the blue topaz earrings I had subtly circled in a catalog and plunked in front of his dinner plate with the words “great mother’s day present” written in black Sharpie. But he did get me a smaller pair of topaz earrings that were just as blue. Even better, he organized the boys to make a big deal out of mother’s day and he asked me the most romantic question a man can ask a woman,
“What part of the house would you like me to clean first?”
I contrast this experience to the Mothers Day I had seven years ago. After giving birth to medically fragile premature twins, my sole hope was that my boys become big and strong and healthy enough that one day I could take their lives for granted. Those first six months were a blur of sleep deprivation and holding my breath in abject fear of every germ, of every developmental milestone not met, of every vivid and terminal “what if” that played out in my new mother’s mind.
Now blessedly I know that my boys, two strapping, whirling dervishes of energy and opinion, will live. I tell my children the story of their early months, of the incubator that Jonah kicked open with his sturdy legs, of the way Benji used to pull the mask off his eyes and peek out while being treated for jaundice. I tell them about the gavage tube that delivered milk into their bellies when they were too weak to suck. About the neonatologist whom I nearly attacked for failing to wash his hands upon entering my children’s pediatric care room.
Like any mental health specialist worth her weight in salt I have been programming my children for years, saying “No consideration, object or deferral is too great for me on Mother’s Day. Diamond tennis bracelets, trips to Tahiti, all of these things are entirely appropriate.”
The truth is that a day without whining or a day without dishes to wash are just as unlikely but equally apropos in my book.
The reality is all I wanted was to feel deeply valued, and that I got in spades. I hope that all of you mothers out there were able to feel as celebrated and cherished as I was. To be loved and to know it: this is the essence of mental health.