It’s never the way we picture it. Never the way it should be, could be, probably is being for other women who do the cooking and the sweeping and probably the earning and the keeping.

Mother’s Day officially became a holiday in the US a little more than a century ago, and quickly became a boon to sellers of cards and candy and flowers and trinkets.

Of course, everyone knows that on Mother’s Day mom is served breakfast in bed, on a tray that dons not only a linen napkin, but also a rose or two set in a crystal vase that sits to the side of the freshly made fruit cup and French press coffee. The latter being served from a china cup, purchased expressly for the occasion.

Did I mention the linen napkin? Did I mention it was hand sewn from the finest Damask available, expressly for the occasion?

Oh, and also, everyone knows that today is the day that all mothers are made much of, and not one of them needs to do anything other than soak it all up.

Because it’s Mother’s Day, and we all know this is what’s supposed to happen on Mother’s Day – that’s why it’s called Mother’s Day.

Frankly, we expect it to happen on Mother’s Day. No matter how many times it hasn’t.

For any of us.

Yeah, we expect a lot on Mother’s Day.

Expecting is something we seem to have perfected.

We expect that the mothers up and down our street, and on every street, are definitely not scrubbing last night’s pots and pans on Mother’s Day.

We expect that fathers around the globe, or at least around our town, are summarily diapering, feeding, dressing, and entertaining the children – preferably with some educational and possibly craft-making activity which will result in a thoughtful gift to give mom when she emerges from the bubble bath in which she soaks. The one drawn by said husband. And we expect that the detritus of the craft-making activity will be cleaned immediately upon it’s completion. Because it’s Mother’s Day.

We expect that all siblings under the age of ten, or maybe thirty, declare a truce for the day and no one fights. Also we expect that no one jumps on the furniture. Or misbehaves in public. Or in private.

We expect that no other mother is waiting for a phone call from an adult child. That never comes.

We expect that flowers fill vases in kitchens all across motherhood’s vast range, and it’s only our crystal that lays barren. Or rather, it’s only our 99 cent plastic vase we picked up at a flea market ten years ago that lays barren. Also, we expect that other mothers have been given crystal vases as gifts for Mother’s Day. Often.

We expect that reservations have been made (at least a month in advance) at all other mothers’ favorite restaurants for brunch, or at least dinner, and that no one is asking what’s for dinner and wondering why mom is not her happy-to-serve self today.

We expect that much is being made of other mothers while not much is happening at all where we are.

Frankly, we expect too much.

Expectations do us in. Every. Single. Time.

Expectations can kill even the most beautiful of sentiments.

Expectations can destroy peace and harmony and even Mother’s Day.

Expectations can make us believe the fantasy in our heads instead of seeing the reality of real life.

We expect that the Mother’s Day in our head is the Mother’s Day that everyone else is having.

It is not. Trust me.

The truth is that no one is living a greeting card. Life is messy and yeah, even Mother’s Day is messy.

But it can be a glorious mess.

It can be a sink full of suds and noticing the prism of colors in them and noticing that it might not be a bubble bath but it is a moment of quiet and we are, in fact, alone. (Pot-scrubbing not being at the top of anyone else’s agenda this morning.)

It can be watching the kids forget to fight because they’re having fun making an astonishing amount of mess with the craft we set up.

It can be remembering that we know how to dial one, and picking up a phone to call those children who are taller than us and maybe even miles and miles away, but really are still babies that we’re never ever gonna let go of.

It can be going for a walk and picking wildflowers and setting the whole messy tangle of them in a 99 cent plastic vase on the counter.

It can be telling them, when they ask, that dinner tonight is going to be anything that mom doesn’t have to cook and if that means pizza, then I’d like mushrooms on it.

It can be a glorious mess, like real life really is.

It can be beautifully messy.

In fact, I expect it will be.


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