Two weeks ago, my best friend, also a mother living with IBD, asked my opinion of The Perfect Mother’s Day. I began to text my response but stopped. I realized I had no idea what The Perfect Mother’s Day is. No one had ever asked. And I had never really given it any thought. You see, I’ve never spent a Mother’s Day without living through the various effects of IBD. I’m usually just trying to will myself through the day and make it a great day for my kid, my mother, and all the other amazing moms around me. But, is that, The Perfect Mother’s Day?
When you live in a big family nothing is about you. Then, you become a mother and it’s really never about you. As a matter of fact, there are about four events that are truly about you. The day you are born, the anniversary of your birth, your wedding day and your funeral. Some would say when you become a parent, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day is about you. But from my experience, they are not. It’s really about the macaroni necklaces & popsicle frames your kids are instructed to make for you. As Mothers, we get lost in the cards, flowers, and gifts used to express the undying love and affection our families have for us. To receive the all-male cooked meals, the school glued crafts, and the allergy inducing flowers, you must get dressed and pretend that nothing on your body hurts. Ignoring all pins & needles, fatigue and post bathroom fainting feelings to enjoy a day all about giving mommy just what she needs.
Not saying that I’ve never had a great Mother’s Day. I’ve enjoyed each one. Including my very first one at my favorite restaurant where an esophagus ulcer prevented me from finishing my garlic noodles and garlic crab. Or the second, when my little Hippo crawled across my hospital bed over to my arms. Or the third, when I found myself throwing up air and water before the big family brunch, praying that my son’s grandparents wouldn’t know that his mother was defective and should be exchanged for another mom at the mommy store. Or my fourth when my new ostomy bag leaked on the way home from brunch…whoa…and that was just the toddler years. But seriously, I have enjoyed each Mother’s Day, because there is something to celebrate. And that’s me having the honor and opportunity to be someone’s mother. Not just any someone, but my little someone. This soul that was gifted to me to raise. But that doesn’t answer the question, though, does it? What do I want for Mother’s Day? What is the perfect Mother’s Day?
Is it awful to say, I just want to not be sick on Mother’s Day? Ugh! I feel like that’s a statement that comes out of my mouth, more than my name. But it’s my truth. It’s also impossible. So, let’s be realistic here. What do I really want for Mother’s Day? Maybe a day to not “mom.” That sounds crazy, because you never really turn it off. But, maybe a day where we don’t have to get dressed for brunches, or fancy dinners. Perhaps a day where we make a fort in the living room, order food, and watch movies or read all day. A day of no plans. A day of no schedules. A day where I don’t hear mom fifty thousand times. Endless coffee or rosé, warm food I didn’t cook myself, nothing to clean up, and just family and friends. Where I don’t have to worry about how my autoimmune diseases are holding up the schedule or where all the bathrooms in a venue are. Where I don’t have to wake up in the morning worried that I won’t ruin everyone else’s day when my body rejects my feelings.
The more I think about it, the more I feel like this is something I will bring up next year. If you are a mom with IBD, take a moment to write down the things that are important to you if you could have a day in celebration of your motherhood. And if Mother’s Day is not a day that is just about you, like in my family, there are a bunch of moms you are celebrating. Then ask for another day to celebrate you. Make it want you want. Celebration doesn’t always equal grand events and money spent. And it’s not really fun if you are having to wake up dreading the result of the day. Do yourself a favor and put yourself first for a second. Think about yourself. Give your partner or children your list of asks, and start a conversation. Just like our IBD is specific to our bodies, our Mother’s Day should be specific to our motherhood.