I come to you as a writer, a mother, a daughter, a woman who suffers from over-volunteerism as in all of the above, who has been officially banned by her family from taking on anything more. It’s enough they say, you’re never home anymore. And so I am here, at home, while my daughter is at school and my mother is at her book group—thinking about Mother’s Day.
It seems odd that given all that mothers do for us on a daily basis that we’ve given them only one designated day a year when they are celebrated. So first off, I move to have something called Mother’s Hours. These are times of the day, designated by mothers where we must be left alone. Ok, so maybe it doesn’t need to be HOURS, maybe it could just be fifteen minutes. But you know that dull drab look we get; that vacant expression, the head nodding but we have no idea what you’re saying. The pallor and cardio fitness of someone who meant to go to the gym but instead baked cupcakes for the class or sewed name-tags into camp clothes, the dull whine of the woman who meant to get a hair cut but instead cleaned the hamster cage, the bird cage, and cleaned the spots where the dog did various things that went unnoticed by everyone else. Mothers Hours, for mothers who drink tea, or white wine, or just need a moment to themselves, mothers who do it all and then some—mothers who don’t even have time to be reading this.
Let’s pause to consider the working mother who comes home fried, having been up since five am, first organizing the family, making breakfast, somehow getting everyone dressed and out the door and then dealing with her job, her superiors, her subordinates, her competitors—and the guy next to her doing a lot less and earning a lot more. She comes home and is the lightening rod, she is ground zero for everything including meltdowns—who else would put up with it? As soon as she’s in the door, she’s met with sobbing children, the litany of misunderstandings that our kids hold in all day and then deliver back to us.
This is when I start eating chocolate. I can be preparing dinner and nibbling on what’s left of the kid’s chocolate bunny which I supposedly hid to save her from the sugar and calories—but which you could equally argue I hoarded for myself.
Mothers are the one soup to nuts relationship in your life; you’ve got them from beginning to end, and so I am all about celebrating it. There are things about the mother/child relationship that should not be unique to that intimate bond but in fact should be part of our culture, the way we live–think about compassion, acceptance, the idea that you matter, your needs, desires and dreams have a place here. Wouldn’t it be nice if the world could be a little more like a “good-enough” mother?
The funny thing is this—I didn’t always get along with my mother; the running joke is I was the worlds worst kid only its not a joke and it’s not funny. I was an angry and unhappy creature of a child, at war with the world. I grew up adopted and with a giant chip on my shoulder. In the seemingly perfect world of Chevy Chase Maryland, where hair was brushed and shoe laces were tied, I was an outright freak. My mother and I would fight; she would get exasperated and throw her arms up and say, “I hope one day you have a little girl just like you.” And I’d cross my arms over my chest and say, “I hope I do! That dream came true for both of us and I have a wonderful, funny, handful of an eleven year old, who is just like me—for better and worse.
But despite the fighting, when I left home, I always called my mother. I called her every day all through college and graduate school and into my adult life. I sometimes called her twice a day, once in the morning before she left for work and once in the early evening before dinner. People thought I was weird, “You talk to your mother every day?” It seemed stranger to me that people didn’t talk to their families, but rather made appointments for when they would talk—Sundays at 5pm. And when they showed up for their appointment what did they talk about? Did they file a report on the week? Take attendance? The truth is I love the sound of my mother’s voice.
The only other thing I love as much is what happens at 3.30 every afternoon when I hear the front door open and a youthful mini-me calls out, Hi mom, I’m home. When my daughter grow up and gets a place of her own—I hope we won’t have to make an appointment. In fact, my plan is that I’m going to treat her to something special–a landline. I’ll buy her a princess trim line phone or maybe a wall mount with one of those long curly cords and hope that in the evenings when she’s making dinner, she’ll give me a call.
So what am I doing for Mother’s Day, I’m running away from home and going to Australia… but first I’m calling my mother.
A.M. Homes is the author of the novels, May We Be Forgiven, This Book Will Save Your Life, The Mistress’s Daughter, Music For Torching, The End of Alice, In a Country of Mothers, and Jack, as well as the short-story collections, Things You Should Know and The Safety of Objects, the travel memoir, Los Angeles: People, Places and The Castle on the Hill, and the artist’s book Appendix A:
A.M Homes has recently been named one of the 50 Most Powerful Moms of 2014 by “Working Mother Magazine.”