This Is The Only Thing I Want For Mother's Day

by Karen Johnson
Xuesong Liao / Getty Images

I spent the first few years of parenthood doing the standard Mother’s Day thing—enjoying keepsake crafts with my baby’s and toddler’s foot prints and smelling the lovely flowers my husband bought and left on the dining room table. I was even brave enough to attempt brunch in a restaurant one year. (Lesson learned on that one.)

But now, 10 years in, I’ve finally figured out what I really want. It’s not expensive jewelry or a spa day. I’m not into smelly lotions or perfumes. In fact, my request usually costs very little money and takes minimal effort from the three people who want to show their appreciation and say, “I’m sorry, Mommy, for cracking open your lady bits with our fat 9-pound selves.”

Do I still treasure those hand-made gifts my children make? Of course. Last year my kids wrote down everything they love about me, and my husband framed it and hung it in our kitchen. It was adorable and made me happy-cry every time I looked at it. Even the part where my 4-year-old said he loves me because I cook potatoes. I don’t really ever cook potatoes, so I have no idea why he said that. But even that part, I love.

And the brownish, poop-colored pottery that could be a bowl or a cup or what used to be called an “ashtray” in the 80s made with love by my 3rd grader—LOVE. IT.

Homemade cards? Love.

Necklace with “I love Mommy” spelled out in wooden beads? Love.

But what I love most is receiving these keepsakes at 8 a.m. on Mother’s Day, saying thank you, giving lots of hugs and kisses, and then saying bye-bye.

I’ll be honest—it took me a long time to figure this out. And then, once I had such an epiphany, it also took me a long time to actually admit it. But here it is. Time to get real. The best and only gift I request every year on Mother’s Day is to be left alone.

No, sweet family, I don’t want to go to brunch and show up 20 minutes late to our reservation and annoy the 17-year-old hostess who just gave away our table because our kids couldn’t find their shoes, and then take our toddler to the potty four times once we get there, and sigh as our son drops half of his food on the floor and complains because his orange juice is too pulpy.

And I’m all set with breakfast in bed because so help me if these kids try to carry a plate of food upstairs with syrup and butter on it, that’s gonna be a disaster.

The flowers are beautiful and make me feel loved, but if you’re wanting to spend a little cash on Mom, she really could use a pair of slippers and new sweats that aren’t stained so she doesn’t mortify the kids at school pick-up.

After having three babies in five years and spending 16 hours a day, seven a days a week with tiny people sucking on my nipples, trying to climb back into my uterus, and puking, peeing, and pooping on me without giving a shit (pun intended), I finally woke up one year and asked for a day off. A day without being needed. A day without having to wipe someone else’s butt. A day without a child spitting venom at me because I put her cereal in the light pink bowl and not the neon pink one. One day without hearing Mommy Mommy Mommy Mommy Mommy all. day. long.

The first year I felt I had to justify it—I need some new jeans, so I’d thought I’d go shopping for a bit, I said. But I don’t fuck around anymore. The fam knows the drill. I’m leaving! I say on Mother’s Day, in the morning, and the people I live with know they will not see me again until the day is done. I might hit a coffee shop to start and splurge on some sort of caramel whipped cream cinnamon 783 calorie “coffee.” I might sit and read for a bit, or play on my phone in peace. I then might take myself shopping (I still need jeans) or get a manicure. I might go for a run or a hike or I might sit on my ass and eat various forms of fried cheese all day.

Who knows? The point is, the day is mine. And mine alone.

I think the other reason it took me a while to realize this is exactly what I needed is that for years I was terrified of being alone. I hated the quiet, and I felt lonely if I didn’t have human interaction. Oh, how motherhood has changed me. Now I relish solitude. Like soak it up and wrap it around me like it’s a cashmere blanket lined with diamonds kind of love.

And yeah, like most moms, I also had to get over the guilt. My husband asks for a family day every year for Fathers’ Day, so why don’t I want the same? Um, maybe because he gets to escape to Adult Land Monday through Friday where grown ups drink hot coffee and aren’t forced to watch Power Rangers on continuous loop. That’s not what I want, or need, and that’s okay. And once I experienced my first Mother’s Day alone, that guilt washed away pretty quickly. Because it was just so damn glorious.

You can rest assured I’ve already put in my request for this year. It’s on the calendar. My family knows that I expect very little, except for them to not need anything from me for one entire day. Dad’s in charge. Eat 11 donuts? Don’t care. Brush your teeth. Or don’t. Stay in pjs and play Legends of Zelda all day. I. DO. NOT. GIVE. A. SHIT. Don’t call me unless someone’s in the ER.

See you after bedtime, my loves. And thank you for my Mother’s Day gift. It’s just what I wanted.