May is on the horizon, folks, and you know what that means: Mother’s Day. Today’s post is in celebration of Mother’s Day and all of the #ordinaryjoy that we experience as moms to these little people.
Do you remember your very first Mother’s Day? I sure do. It was pretty awful, actually. Leo was just 5-weeks-old and we were in the throes of colic. When I say the throes of colic I mean that I spent the entire night preceding Mother’s Day awake with a screaming infant, pacing the floor, shushing, bouncing, praying for him to calm down, to stop. Well, he didn’t. When the sun finally came up, I mistakenly assumed that the situation would improve. In Leo’s five short weeks on the planet, early morning seemed to be our best time of day. On Mother’s Day, however, the wailing continued. In fact, it seemed that Leo was upping the ante. I nursed him. I took him for a walk. I sang. I bounced. I shushed. I prayed. I vacuumed. I hummed. I ran water. I cried.
I cried a lot that first Mother’s Day. My ears were ringing, my mind was a blur. I was supposed to be able to soothe my baby. Why was he so miserable? What was I doing wrong? I felt like a failure.
Leo’s wails caused a visceral reaction in me. I couldn’t think when he was screaming like that. Physically, I felt nauseous. Schizz felt helpless, as husbands often do when families are dealing with colic. Leo wanted to be near me, that much was clear. Whenever I passed him to Schizz for a break, the cries got so much worse. “Just give him to me!” I’d snap, snatching back my wailing little boy. I shushed and bounced, shushed and bounced. Prayed for silence. Cried some more.
Eventually Schizz, at a loss as to what to do, descended into the basement for most of the day. Periodically he’d check on us and I’m sure I snapped at him. I was resentful that he had his hands free and yet I didn’t want to leave this baby. I was the mom, I was supposed to be able to fix it and to make everything better. I was failing at motherhood on Mother’s Day.
I couldn’t believe that this was how I was spending my first Mother’s Day. No celebration. No cute photos of our new family together on this day. No breakfast in bed. No Mother’s Day brunch. No shower even, if we’re being completely honest.
Late that afternoon, Schizz emerged from the basement. It was a rare moment of calm, Leo had fallen asleep against my chest and I was actually seated. Schizz chose that moment to proudly announce that he had built me a laundry shelf. Leo stirred at the sound of his voice and started to cry.
“A …laundry… shelf?” I sputtered, rising from the couch to pace once more. My anger was rising, too.
Schizz nodded his head, now not so sure.
“A laundry shelf?!” I growled again, furious, sad. Shush, bounce. Shush, bounce. This was not how the first Mother’s Day was supposed to go. The last thing I wanted to think about right now was laundry.
Schizz looked stricken. He felt he was failing, too.
At a loss, he offered to take the baby again. I shook my head, fighting tears. Shush, bounce. Shush, bounce.
He asked me if he could do anything. Tears welled, I shook my head again, turned away. Do. Not. Cry. This is not how it is supposed to go. This is not what Mother’s Day is supposed to be like. The wails continued, grew worse. It was impossible to talk over them.
Schizz heated up something for dinner. I don’t remember what it was. I am sure that, whatever it was, I ate it while walking around, as I did for every meal in those early months. I don’t remember our conversation, if there was any.
What I do remember is later that night. Somehow, miraculously, we got Leo to fall asleep for a small window of time in the bassinet. I remember sitting on the couch next to Schizz, embracing the silence. He put his arm around me and told me I should go to bed. You know, sleep when the baby is sleeping and all that. But I couldn’t, my nerves were too rattled from the day’s events. I was exhausted. And I was sad.
I was mourning my Mother’s Day.
Schizz went out and got us some homemade ice cream from our favorite place. He handed me the treat as a peace-offering, apologizing for the shelf, for the whole day. I hugged him because I knew that the laundry shelf was his feeling-helpless-attempt-at-fixing-the-day, even if it was wildly unromantic. We laughed about it. We vowed that all future Mother’s Days would be better than this one. They’d have to be, we joked.
I ate my ice cream standing up, because –surprise!– Leo was awake again. I had missed my window for sleep but the ice cream was delicious. I tried not to drop any on Leo’s angry little noggin. The ice cream, in combination with the fact that the day was ending, made me feel infinitely better. We had survived. We made it. Tomorrow would be a new day- not a designated special day, just an ordinary day.
Ice cream makes everything better, am I right?
And, do you know what? All subsequent Mother’s Days have been better than that one, folks.
Recently, I wrote a post about a photo that encapsulated the very essence of motherhood. In it, I wrote:
So, the next time you find yourself sitting on a potty stool with wet pants, a migraine, a burgeoning bad mood, wild children, and a mess to clean, know this: even on your worst parenting days, being a mother is a beautiful gift in a very short season.
Motherhood, even on those most awful of days, is a beautiful gift in a very short season. In honor of May, and of Mother’s Day, I am going to be posting our #ordinaryjoy moments over on Instagram and Twitter. Please feel free to join me, mamas. Let’s celebrate this season while we’re in the throes, united together. Because I’ve been told that we’re gonna miss this.