For the Dads: Staying Out of the Doghouse on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is May 12th. I’m giving you plenty of warning.  Hopefully some of what I’m about to tell you will find it’s way into your brain, and on May 11th generate an Outlook-style reminder that tomorrow is Mother’s Day, thus inspiring the greatest works of gifting and celebratory genius known to man [rather than, or perhaps in spite of, a panic-induced frenzy through Target, dragging your sugar-bribed children through a selection of greeting cards no fewer than 80 billion in number, pleading that they remember Mommy doesn’t like purple but loves pink, not baby pink, but coral pink!]  In case you read that and in your little, er, logical man brain thought ‘that’s weeks away, I’ll set my Outlook to remind me on May, wait, what date was it again?’, let me be more clear:

Unless you want to negotiate with the dog for your sleeping arrangements starting on May 13th, you should understand one thing…Mother’s Day is the single most important holiday a woman with children will ever celebrate in her lifetime.  Ever.

But what about…’

More important than her birthday.

Yeah, but there’s our…’

More important than your wedding anniversary.

But, surely it’s not…’

More important than Christmas? Uh huh. And if you said St. Patrick’s Day, or the start of football season, it’s possible counseling and/or marriage counseling, respectively, may be in order.

Last Mother’s Day, I wished my new-mommy friends a happy first Mother’s Day and envisioned for them a week of lavish first Mother’s Day gifts and pampering, and a day spent soaking in the glory and gratitude showered on them by their children’s father and the world, or at least their feet soaking in a jet tub filled with a solution of supposed rare sea salt.  But to my dismay, I learned that for some, their first Mother’s Day had been like many other days, with the exception of a purple card filled with a forged baby signature [you don’t share a blood supply with someone for 9 and a half months and then not know their handwriting, come on].

I counted myself lucky being married to a hopeless romantic.  But even my husband hadn’t totally realized that to me, the experience of becoming a mother, that which I’d likened to a one-on-one, face-to-face meeting with God, had been something of a rebirth.  And since I’d endured 20 hours of back labor followed by a c-section, it felt physically similar. For me, having found a new and enlightened purpose in life and becoming what I wanted to be more than anything ever, Mother’s Day became my new birthday.  No other celebration would have the same type of importance, if the same level of it, from that moment on. On my children’s birthdays, I celebrate the event of their births, which gave them life.  On Mother’s Day, I celebrate the event of their births, which gave me life.

To be fair, it’s a difficult concept for guys.  Suddenly, there is one more mother to think about, and you’re not his mother after all.  But it’s important that you understand how wholly changing the experience of motherhood is for a woman, and how much of her self-worth is tied up in it.  If you thought our self-loathing in the run up to swimsuit season was tough, you ain’t seen nothin until it’s time to throw a first birthday bash or select a preschool.  Most of us scrutinize, if not agonize over every move we make as moms, from the breast-or-bottle debate to which summer camp to send our kids.  What you see on the outside, multiply it times 10,000 to get close to how much we have going on on the inside.

So this Mother’s Day, do yourself a favor and make sure she knows you get how much being a mom means to her, whether she gave birth to her first child last week, or is due with your fifth next month. Even if you don’t get it, just pretend and shower her in gratitude for the stretchmarks, the weak bladder, and the daily internal chaos she endures to raise your children.  [I mean gifts and spa treatments okay, in case your logical brain checked out again.]

That is, unless, you speak Labrador.

[This post is dedicated to my husband, who makes every day special, including Mother’s Day.  I love you, McB!]

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