Alt-Parenting: Taking Back Mother’s Day

altInevitably when I ask my fellow moms what they’re doing for Mother’s Day, I receive one of two responses:  (1) we’re going out to brunch/lunch/dinner as a family; or worse, (2) we’re spending the day with my mother/mother-in-law. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Mother’s Day is supposed to be a celebration of women who are mothering children to honor their hard work and give them a break. It is not a day to torture these women, right? Then why are they engaging in such dreadful activities?

Don’t argue with me here. Please don’t try to tell me that going out for brunch with your family is “fun.” It’s not. “But,” you insist, “My partner made a reservation at my favorite brunch spot. Of course it will be a great day!” Perhaps you’re picturing yourself at Gracie’s or 1149, enjoying a mimosa as you dine. You glance at your partner with a smile of appreciation on your face. You don’t have to cook or clean a thing. The children are well-coiffed and perfectly behaved. He feels smugly satisfied that he conquered Mother’s Day and might even get laid that night.

You’re both delusional.

How does this scene actually play out? You can’t get the mimosas down fast enough because the kids are loud and boisterous in a restaurant that doesn’t cater to children. They complain about the fancy food.  They follow you to the omelet station and juggle the raw eggs. They are only satiated by electronic devices so you desperately hand them your iPhone, only to be met by the nasty glares of fellow diners who must now endure the theme music to “Plants vs. Zombies.” You can’t wait to get the bill and go home to do some laundry. And by the way, you still need to cook dinner.

Perhaps your partner is not quite so delusional, so he takes you to a kid-friendly restaurant. Now picture yourself spending your special day at Texas Roadhouse, wolfing down a large slab of cow carcass as you’re surrounded by peanut dust and loud noise. If you’re lucky, Andy the Armadillo will you hand you a red rose. Please.

Worse than going out to eat is the prospect of having to visit your mother or mother-in-law on Mother’s Day. Not that there’s anything wrong with them, but this is your day, not theirs. They had their day. They are no longer living the day-to-day grind of raising children, from which one seriously needs a break. They enjoy your children without having to discipline them. When they get overwhelmed, they leave. And they have Grandparent’s Day.

Once I had a child, my mother passed the Mother’s Day torch to me, whether she wanted to or not. I still buy her a card, and might even spend some time with her, but it’s all about me. As for my mother-in-law, she, too, can suck it.

So what should we do on Mother’s Day? Ditch our children and families and selfishly enjoy a day doing what we love? YES! Take the whole day off from diapers, meals, housework, whining and schedules, and do whatever you please. You might feel guilty, but it will pass – I promise. I began this tradition a few years back when my children were quite young. My husband traveled often for work and I stayed home with my newborn and toddler. When he asked me that year what I wanted to do for Mother’s Day, I told him, “Get as far away from YOU as possible.” I meant all three of them. He seemed slightly offended, but bounced back.

Admittedly, I did experience a pang of guilt later that day when I went out to dinner and saw scores of women spending time with their children. Was something wrong with me? Was I a selfish person? Within moments, however, a toddler let out a loud scream, an older child complained about the food and I noticed a sullen teenager sat fixated on his phone. No one was truly relaxed and enjoying themselves except me. All guilt went out the window.

You too can finally enjoy Mother’s Day – for real. Tell your mother and mother-in-law that you won’t be stopping by with that overpriced plant. Tell you partner not to bother with brunch reservations. You won’t be doing anything that doesn’t bring you peace, relaxation and enjoyment. If you absolutely can’t let go of that Mother’s Day delusion, may I suggest dinner at one of those places that offers bottomless wine? The food might suck and the kids might be monsters, but at least you’ll be too drunk to remember.

Whatever you do, I hope it’s happy. You deserve it.