Mother's Day is a day when all mothers should be thanked for everything they do, praised for how well they balance their myriad roles in life, encouraged to "take the day off" and "relax"...wait...that was my wishfulness speaking. Not that I don't feel appreciated, or that I won't be thanked or given at least a few minutes of special attention--it's just that, well, mother's don't ever really get to "take the day off." Usually, by the time I get through all the things I need to do as "mom," I'm too tired to go do any of the things I'd like to do as "me." I guess that's the first and most important example of the kind of thing my mother meant when she complained that we had no idea how much she sacrificed for us.
All my life I heard about what a "sacrifice" motherhood was, and how mothers choose to--without complaint--"sacrifice" so much for their children. I don't know what I thought my mother meant by "sacrifice," because it took becoming a mother myself to finally get a clue (and by this I mean "become just like my mother." To sacrifice for my child (and my husband and my dog) really means: getting up at 6:30 a.m. on a Saturday, after a long, difficult week at work, because I know my husband is exhausted too. And because I know that if I ask him to get up he'll make me pay for it with at least 100 sighs or groans of frustration throughout the day, and I just don't want to deal with that this weekend. To sacrifice means getting guilt trips from some of my friends when I choose not to stay out late, cancel plans at the last minute, or not make plans at all.
To sacrifice means to feel kind of friendless a lot of the time, because I just don't have the time to make and/or keep friends. To sacrifice means giving up those precious evening hours when I might be reading, writing, catching up with friends, going out with friends, doing yoga, working out, or anything else normal people do in the evening, to clean up dinner dishes (sometimes even after making dinner), make lunches, set up coffee for the next day, straighten the house, do laundry, or walk the dog (although who am I kidding: our dog has been treated to maybe ten evening walks in the ten months she's been with us).
To sacrifice means the gift I want more than anything else in the whole world for my birthday or Mother's Day or Christmas or any holiday that warrants receiving a gift is a cleaning lady. Instead, I have to ask for the gift of my husband and three-year-old's patience with me on a Saturday morning when I ask them to spend "a couple of hours" helping me straighten and clean the house. Starting around 8 a.m., I have done what seem to be a million chores: clean the kitchen countertops, stove, sink, table; vacuum the entire house from living room to dining room to kitchen to bathrooms to hallway to stairs to upstairs hallway to bedrooms, including all the floor boards and moldings and tops of doors; clean the crud off the refrigerator handle and out of the crevices of the plastic suction-thingies on the door (how does it get so black and disgsting in there???); scrub the entire bathroom (some of it while said three-year-old was in the bathtub scrubbing herself clean), including the walls, tile, tub, toilet, sink, and floor; start and finish six loads of laundry--three of my own and three of my husband's, not including folding--yet; and mix up a batch of jajic (delicious spread made with cottage cheese, cream cheese, cilantro, celery, and jalapeno or banana pepper).
My three-year-old, bless her heart, attempted to sweep the front porch (in her princess costume--did I mention she is in LOVE with Cinderella? It seemed fitting that we called her that all morning long, much to her delight), spray and wash off her baby, the outside of the living room window, Thomas the Train, and a handful of other toys. As I pause to write and to muster the energy to tackle the last of the things on my list (the dreaded washing of the floors), I am not sure where my husband is; he left while I was reading to my daughter before her nap. Before he left, he moved a pile of library books from one table to another, straightened and put away a couple of his things, put some things on Craig's List and/or Ebay, hopefully measured the front door for a new lock and ordered the new lock, and brought his laundry basket down to the basement.
Well, at least if I get to sleep in tomorrow, don't oversleep and make it to Saraswati's for yoga, followed by an enjoyable brunch at either Le Pain Quotidien, Sugar and Olives, or Valencia Luncheria with friends and family, this will have been a great Mother's Day weekend.