Any holiday is a joy as a kid. The excitement I felt about making leprechaun traps on St. Patrick's Day was enough to rival the excitement I now feel over green beer and grandparents babysitting as I recover from the inevitable hangover. But any kind of celebration was an excuse to get happy — including Mother's Day. Seriously, do you remember how fun Mother's Day was as a kid? Working on a secret project in your third-grade classroom, anxiously waiting for Sunday morning when you would, of course, present it to your mother in bed with scrambled eggs that were 30 percent made of cheese and 70 percent shell — what was better than that? Oh, I know. Mother's Day as an actual mom, knowing your kids are just beside themselves with the fact that they get to celebrate their favorite person in the entire world — you.
When I was around 10 or so, I remember waking up on the morning of Mother's Day and feeling a rush of adrenaline. It was the day. The day of my secret plan. I quickly grabbed my boombox and loaded up my Spice Girls CD with track number six, I think it was, queued up and ready to go. All I had to do was hit play. I had written the lyrics out already on a piece of paper adorned with stickers, and rolled it up tightly to place under the plate of toast I was going to carry into her room. I'm sure I had written some other message, because even at 10 I knew the power of words, and I was desperate for my mom to feel special that Mother's Day.
All I can truly remember in that moment is how happy I felt singing to her before the sun was even up.
And when I finally went in her room and woke her with my boombox set to "burst eardrums" level on the volume control, I know she was thrilled. I know that the burnt toast probably scratched the roof of her mouth in the worst way, and the coffee was probably far too weak for her, but all I can truly remember in that moment is how happy I felt singing to her before the sun was even up.
I was just so happy it was Mother's Day.
Truly, the holiday is less about how a mom feels. I'm a mom to two little girls now, and while I love receiving flowers and being treated to a special brunch, the best part of the day is the look on my 4-year-old's face when Daddy tells her it's Mother's Day. It's her chance to celebrate, to get excited about her mama, and it's truly all I need. When all the social media posts about just needing a break on Mother's Day or Mother's Day being our "only day off — but technically not" have died down and the hum of disinterest is no longer vibrating throughout the day — there are our kids. So freaking excited that it's Mother's Day.
One year my grandmother took me to the craft store where my brother and I bought popsicle sticks (without the popsicle, which seems infinitely sad) and little ceramic knick knacks and paint and a big giant piece of green foam so we could create a... diorama? An oasis? I don't know, but I remember this project had a ceramic Victorian house in the corner that stood about five inches high, yet we had made a picket fence and people that stood twice that height. We hot-glued it all onto this big giant foam core, and presented it to my mom with a flourish. Look! Art! I remember being so thrilled with it, the foam crumbling under my fingers as I tightened my grip so none of the little doodads crashed to the floor upon presentation.
And then I remember years and years later, finding it stashed into a spare room closet and my mom telling me, "Ugh! I never knew what to do with that thing." I don't blame her. It was very ugly and huge and littered bits of green foam all over the house.
She's waiting to give me the performance of a lifetime. And in that moment, I'll be my mom.
But the way I felt when I handed it to her? That was the part I'll never forget. And it's what I'm remembering now, when my daughter tells me she made me a purse at school.
"We glued all kinds of things on it and painted it! It's for you to hold things!" It doesn't matter that the gift itself sounds terrible (I mean, she doesn't expect me to actually carry it, does she?) or that I'll have to find a place to store it until the guilt of throwing it away is gone (so never then). All that matters is how happy my kid is about this project, truly.
She's feeling all of those happy, excited feelings I can remember as a kid. Her purse might as well be a boombox queued up with her favorite CD, waiting to give me the performance of a lifetime. And in that moment, I'll be my mom: exhausted, not really looking forward to burnt toast, but beaming from ear to ear. I will be happy, because she is so, so happy.
And because it's freaking Mother's Day.