At 1 a.m. Miguel yells for me from his bedroom. He relays the details of a horrible nightmare in which he built something and someone knocked it down. I assure him that he was dreaming, that neither building nor knocking has occurred. Zeca also wakes up but she is crying, standing up in her crib rattling the bars. We can only assume she has had a terrible dream in which someone built something and she knocked it down. She is wracked with guilt and Luisa gives her a pacifier and a back rub. At 5:45 a.m., Miguel wakes up and begins yelling for us. I go in to tell him that it is too early and that he needs to go back to sleep. He tells me that it is Mother’s Day and he wants to make coffee for us…got up early to make coffee for us…needs to make coffee for us right now. By 6:15 a.m., we are all downstairs and I am supervising the making of my Mother’s Day coffee. By 6:30 a.m., I am cleaning up the mess made during the making of the Mother’s Day coffee. At 7 a.m., Luisa and I are preparing breakfast for the children. By 7:30 a.m., we are cleaning up the breakfast dishes. We each grab a Luna Bar and try to have coffee. We sit down to read the paper but there are many demands for attention which detract from the reading of the newspaper. I manage to look through a few ads and Luisa manages a couple of editorials. Zeca is removing all of the books from the bookshelf. Miguel is playing prairie dog on the couch which involves throwing all of the cushions on the floor. By 8 a.m., toys are strewn all over the entire downstairs. Interestingly, neither child is actually playing with any toys. It is raining outside and we are all bored.
The hours between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. are a blur of Luisa nagging Miguel, me nagging Luisa, Zeca crying because she is not allowed to destroy various objects in the house and Miguel occasionally yelling at us that we are the meanest mothers in the world and will not be getting Mother’s Day cards next year. I begin to grit my teeth and glower. I consider locking myself in the bathroom but decide Luisa would rather deal with moody me than be left alone with the children. We decide to go to Ikea to get a dresser for Zeca and to drop Miguel off at the ball pit where he can climb and jump.
We drop Miguel off at the Ikea ball pit, plop Zeca in a cart and proceed into the store. Ikea is virtually empty and I imagine all of the other mothers having their Mother’s Day brunches or breakfast in bed or receiving numerous bouquets of flowers or gorging on chocolates in their beds. Zeca cries because she doesn’t want to sit in the cart. I explain to her calmly that she must remain in the cart. She continues to cry. I give her cranberries and she stops crying. We select a dresser and return to the ball pit to pick up Miguel. It’s lunch time and we have no food at home for lunch. Cranberries do not an entree make and there is nothing else in the diaper bag. We decide to eat at the Ikea cafeteria. We find a table among the elderly mothers that seem to have come to Ikea just for the Swedish Meatballs. We sit down to enjoy our Festival of Carbs, though “enjoy” is generous. As we leave Ikea, Miguel asks when we are going to do something fun.
We return home and put Zeca down for her nap. Miguel goes to his room for “quiet time” which consists of him yelling “Happy Mother’s Day” to Luisa from his bedroom window while she mows the lawn. He gets louder and louder so that she can hear him over the mower. While Luisa mows the lawn, I pick up all of the toys and take out the trash. I also make the grocery list. When Luisa finishes the lawn, she comes inside and I take Miguel to do the grocery shopping. While we are shopping, Luisa does the bills.
We return from shopping and Luisa puts the groceries away while I call my mother to wish her happy Mother’s Day. She says nothing about the card I sent, nor the Visa gift card I got for her. I finally ask her if she received them. She says that she did and that she doesn’t even know how to use the Visa gift card. There is a five minute discussion of how to use the card that concludes with her saying “humph” rather than anything resembling a thank you. I am fuming and call my sister to complain. My sister is very sweet to me. While I luxuriate in my sister’s kindness, the children wander around the house leaving a wake of toys in their path. I get off the phone and begin making lasagna for dinner. We decide to invite our friends (Raquel, Susan and their daughter Luca) over for dinner because they just returned from Ohio and probably don’t have food at their house. They say they will be over right after they unpack. Miguel spends the next 45 minutes asking us when they are going to get there.
They arrive and we have a lovely dinner and a bottle of wine. Miguel plays with Luca and Zeca performs all of her most adorable tricks. We have snippets of adult conversation…the first of such snippets all day. At 7:30 p.m., Luisa puts Zeca to bed and Miguel and Luca play quietly in his room. We have actual adult conversation. My jaw unclenches…could be the wine, could be the conversation. Around 8 p.m. the “clean up the mess in the bedroom” negotiations begin. I go up to check it out and am horrified to see that nearly every inch of Miguel’s floor is covered in books, toys and clothing. I tell the children to clean it up. They come down at 8: 15 p.m. and say that it is clean. I don’t believe them but I am tired and don’t care anymore. Our friends leave and I take Miguel up to bed. I walk into his room and it is immaculate. He is beaming and says, “See, I told you I would do something nice for you today”. I want to cry. We snuggle into his bed and he tells me in a fake French accent…”Zee keeds, zey like to eat zee boogers”. I respond in the same accent, “Zat eeze gross”. We laugh. He rubs my cheek and says he loves me. I hold his small hand and tell him that I love him too. He drifts off to sleep. The house is finally quiet. I go back downstairs where Luisa is doing the dishes. I pick up all the toys and make the coffee for the next day. We prepare tomorrow’s lunches. We sit down at 9 p.m.
Just another day for these mothers…
Luisa called to suggest that, perhaps, my account of the day was the tiniest bit harsh. I didn't mean to describe a day that would drive people to drink or to give the impression that we are bitter, unhappy people. I was simply struck with the difference between the Mother's Day that is marketed by Hallmark and an actual day in the life of a mother with small children. So, I offer the following disclaimer:
Vikki and Luisa are happy, well-adjusted women raising two wonderful children. They love their children (and each other) dearly and would not change their lives for anything.
There, I've disclaimed. Besides, how I could I not love these little people...