Mother’s Day is always a weird day.
Moms don’t get any days off.
My birthday is just like any other day.
I don’t wake up to a breakfast buffet laid in the dining room or presents and cards piled around my placemat.
And I tell myself that’s mostly ok.
I don’t even get to sleep in.
I wake up to my kids, before dawn, demanding breakfast, as usual.
Mom birthdays suck.
Of course it’s not very popular to hate my birthday, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day…or any holiday, really.
Motherhood is an eternal negotiation of various selves — your own self with the lives around you — and a balancing of needs (by which I mean who gets to poop alone). Yes, it’s beautiful and crushing, infuriating and transcendent.
Just a couple times a year, it’d be nice to have a special day of no responsibilities.
But reality with four busy children doesn’t allow for that.
I don’t get any time off.
My birthday was on a Wednesday this year.
So, of course, I dragged the kids to a field trip at a local grocery store.
They got to make Easter baskets and gorge themselves on candy and snacks while I learned about the store’s features and deals.
This may seem weird, but it’s a German store and I’m American and shopping on the German economy can be tricky sometimes and it’s a little different than shopping in the American stores I grew up with. So I didn’t want to miss the lessons.
Oh, and on Wednesdays, we have music class.
We went to the playground between the store field trip and music class because the weather was gorgeous.
I’m an awesome mom like that.
I enjoyed the downtime of watching my kids freely play while I soaked up some spring sunshine.
I remember my birthdays when I was little.
I grew up in simpler times with simple birthday parties.
Every year, almost my entire school class and some neighborhood playmates were invited to a simple birthday party at my house with pink crepe streamers and a plastic disposable game of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, musical chairs, and hot potato.
When I was a teen, I invited my 2-3 besties for slumber parties. My dad was usually out of town.
As a young adult, I’d go out to a nice dinner with my significant other or friends.
My husband took me out to dinner around my birthday for a few years.
My birthdays lost their importance after I had a family.
I really, really try to make my kids’ birthdays special. I want my children to know I value them as people over mounds of stuff.
Pinterest makes me feel like an absolute failure with birthdays and holidays.
We did the crepe streamers and balloons against the bedroom door a couple times and that didn’t end well when the birthday child had a nightmare and woke up to more stuff of nightmares trying to get comforted and running into the spiderweb of birthday doom.
We don’t give our kids an expensive birthday party with a real-live pony carousel, petting zoo, rented carnival games, or gourmet have-to-order-a-year-in-advance storebought 6-layer cake decorated with real gold leaf that is more elaborate than my Publix wedding cake was. We don’t reserve a party room at the local amusement park, bowling alley, indoor playground, movie theatre, skating rink, or water park and invite everyone we know in hopes of reciprocation.
We don’t even invite any people over anymore to celebrate events. No one comes and no one RSVPs.
The stress level of competing with other moms over the kids’ birthday party events and décor is too much for me.
We just have a lovely homemade banner and from-scratch cake or pie and a homemade dinner of choice. I buy pretty paper napkins (this is special because we normally use cloth napkins!). We often go to the pool, bowling alley, a movie, trampoline park. or somewhere special and fun as a family to celebrate.
Seriously, with 6 people in our family, those activities are expensive!
As a mom, it’s hard to see time and money wasted on me.
I can’t get past the cost of cut flowers, a mediocre stressful dinner out, and frivolous presents that will just collect dust or get broken or lost in our many moves as a military family.
But then there’s the dishes awaiting me from the meals that my husband and/or kids cooked. The kitchen is an absolute disaster.
I’m trying desperately to teach my kids not to feel entitled or focus on stuff. So I need to change my attitude when I get irritated that my day isn’t special. I need to adjust my expectations.
I won’t steal my kids’ joy by refusing the blessings of their adorable handmade gifts and cards on holidays.
While I’m in the shower.
Because moms get no privacy either.