The Truth About Mother’s Day

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Saturday night, before I drifted off to sleep, a pleasant thought about how I planned to spend a good chunk of Mother’s Day, or at least the morning, fluttered through my head.

Having recently re-subscribed to the Sunday New York Times’ home delivery, I envisioned myself lounging on the couch in my living room, the sun streaming through the window and hitting my back as I lazily leafed through all my favorite sections in one sitting, rather than catching snippets of it throughout the week whenever I could find the time. My first clue that things weren’t going to go as planned struck me when the paper failed to arrive on my doorstep the next morning.

But it didn’t really matter. The morning brought with it the usual pre-sports activity chaos, which is hard to ignore much less avoid getting sucked into unless you physically remove yourself from the premises (note to self for next year). The baseball pants weren’t only missing; when they were found, scrunched in a ball at the bottom of the dirty laundry bin, they needed to be washed—quickly. While that happened, there was homework to be completed, which required a good amount of cajoling on my part.

The dirty baseball pants reminded me that there also was a heck of a lot of other dirty laundry to do. So much, it seemed, that I’d probably be better off going to a laundry mat with multiple, industrial-strength washers and dryers so as not to create a major backup of clothes piles. But instead, I decided to allow the piles to take over my basement, and I gradually chipped away at them throughout the day.

In spite of the newspaper’s absence and the overwhelming presence of laundry that greeted me on Mother’s Day, I did successfully request that my husband make breakfast for the kids while I squeezed in a brief yoga session on the living room floor. I guess I should have bargained up front for having him clean the dishes afterward too.

As I was leaning over the sink scrubbing the crepe pan and wondering what my husband had done with the sugar bowl whose contents I now desperately needed to complete my cup of coffee, I thought about Mother’s Day and the hype surrounding it.

I suppose that, on this “special day,” in some households moms are holed up in their bedrooms eating concoctions that their kids have made them for breakfast, while other moms are getting a spa treatment. But the bottom line is this:

Mother’s Day or not, come Monday—if not sooner—the special treatment that moms receive, or hope for, will be over, and everything will return to its usual state. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

It affirms, in fact, the integral and irreplaceable role that mothers play in the lives of their families (even if, at times, that role feels like little more than short order cook and housekeeper). And trying to escape that role, even for a few hours one day of the year, is a lot like trying to wriggle out of your own skin. If you did manage to free yourself from it, you’d probably feel strange without it. But enough ruminating on Mother’s Day. It’s time to switch the laundry.



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  1. I have one friend with two sets of washers and dryers. and she doesn’t even do the laundry

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