Mother’s Day Has Changed As I’ve Gotten Older


Sunday is Mother’s Day, and, for me, it has changed dramatically through the years. I didn’t even realize it until lately because it has been a slow process.

When I was in my late 20s, what I wanted on Mother’s Day more than anything else was to be a mother. Luckily for me, that worked out. I have fabulous, wonderful, gorgeous children — just like every other mother in the world.

When I was in my 30s, what I wanted on Mother’s Day more than anything else was for those fabulous, wonderful, gorgeous children to be in bed by 9 p.m. so I could sit down for a minute.

When I was in my 40s, what I wanted on Mother’s Day more than anything else was for those now-teenaged children to be home by 11 p.m. so I could finally quit worrying about them and get some sleep.

These days, I get plenty of sleep. This Mother’s Day, I’d just like to see them.

Oh, they’ll send cards and flowers and candy. They’ll call. I am not whining about being neglected. I’m simply mourning the fact that the rudimentary realness of life now separates us for long periods of time. My daughter is in Missouri, my son is in Wellington. I can be with one or the other, but to get them both together at once is both challenging and expensive.

When we’re all together is when I’m happiest. I can look them in the eyes and see that they’re OK. They can tell me how things are going in their lives, and I can relax a little bit, even take pride in how they’re handling the obstacles. They can hug me if they want — that’s always a bonus.

On one of the happiest days of their lives — their high school graduations — I cried and cried. I knew it was the beginning of the end. Their independence was my loss, to some extent. They were teetering on the edge of the familial nest.

Yet it was the beginning of my independence, too, and how I had missed it!

I don’t think any 20-something mother can foresee the vastness and magnitude of the undertaking ahead of her. Fathers, too, but that diatribe will have to wait for Father’s Day. And mothers have a physical closeness that began nine months before anyone even saw that little face.

I will tell you a secret. My daughter Jen and I get along extremely well, but we did have one fight. And it was a big one.

It happened when she came home from a date at age 18, engaged. I knew she was “an adult,” but I simply thought she was too young to tie herself down. She hadn’t even been to college. She didn’t know anything about the world! She, of course, did not agree. She sat on her bed, crying and clutching a stuffed animal (thus proving my case before I even started), and I sat on the edge of the bed and tried to tell her of my dreams for her. At one point, I reached out and touched her bare foot, and she snapped it back, away from me.

I was cut to the core. How many times had I washed that foot? Kissed that foot? Put that foot into booties and sneakers and ballet slippers? How many times had I taken that foot to school? To the doctor? To movies and games and plays? Just who did she think she was, owning that foot?

Well, the owner, of course.

In the end, we compromised. She agreed to give the ring back and wait a year. I agreed to embrace her decision after that.

Luckily for me, that worked out. And this Sunday, we’ll both celebrate being mothers together.