I have memories as a child of preparing breakfast, with my father’s help, to bring to my mother in bed on Mother’s Day. I knew as well as he did that it would be no surprise, but we pretended, he and I. I remember a few odd gifts I gave her over the years, but the one that stands out the most was a garbage bag full of well-fermented horse shit I brought home in my car from the ranch where I worked. Her roses loved it and yet she still rolls her eyes over it.
As a new mother myself, my very first Mother’s Day was a revelation. Being pampered by my son’s father was a dream come true. Those beginning years were special indeed – breakfast in bed was mine, although sometimes those breakfasts were inedible having been made with love by my young children. I grinned and did my best to eat them without gagging anyway.
Today I find the cycle has changed once again. I made the coffee last night so Alex, my youngest, could come downstairs ahead of me and push the button to start the coffeemaker. I’m in the not-so-unique position of being single, having my three sons at home, and soon I will be picking my own mother up to spend the day caring for her, though she’d never concede to the idea that it’s the other way around. She wants me to depend on her and I’m okay with that. It’s like a dance, graceful in its complexity with me agreeing to almost anything and her… I’m not sure if she still understands that I’m doing it or not, but the grand act of denial, if that’s what she does, is Oscar-worthy. And of course there are my own children. To an extent my eldest is taking care of me, helping me not to pull my hair out both with his physical aid in babysitting and housework and his awesome sense of humour.
So it goes. The child becomes the mother, the caregiver; the giver of life as she comes closer to the end of her own, becomes dependent once again.
I love being a mother, but in the end it can be likened to a bag of horse shit. For the amount of work it takes, the load of stress that accompanies it, and the headache-inducing number of eyerolls, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.