All I wanted for Mother’s Day this year was a little day trip. I had this idea that it might be fun to go kayaking as a family, then grab an early dinner by the water somewhere. I even thought of a place and researched it some, but it wasn’t looking good. The kayak rental place wasn’t open when I called and their voicemail box was full. The restaurant I had in mind was booked solid. The weather report was calling for rain.
Honestly, I wasn’t that bummed about it. I’ve ruined holidays (and bike rides) for myself before by having too-high expectations. (Or by comparing my day to others’ on Facebook. Always the kiss of death.) So I forwarded the links along to my husband and said, “Oh, well. Plan B?” A quiet day at home wouldn’t be the worst thing, given the whirlwind weeks we’ve been having lately.
That morning I headed out to yoga, as I usually do on Sundays. Have I told you about my teacher, a mom of NINE children?! It tells you something, that she would show up on Mother’s Day. Sitting there on her mat, serene and supple as ever, she smiled and said, “I love my children. But today was not their finest hour.” Then she got on with the downward dogs and these crazy headstand-split things she makes us do. I love that woman. Keeping it real while she kicks our butts.
After class, I headed home to good news. C. had gotten through to the kayak place, and they had plenty of boats available. And the restaurant, it turned out, had a no-reservations-required outdoor deck, so we had a good chance of getting in there, too. We set off. (After I spent the better part of an hour slathering kids with sunscreen and filling water bottles. At one point I thought Mother’s Day was a day off. I’ve since wised up.)
On the ride there, 6yo Riley says: “I’m kinda nervous. What if I fall in the water?”
“That’s OK. You’ve got a life vest and a bathing suit on and you know how to swim.”
“Will there be sharks?”
“No. No sharks.”
“Will there be piranhas?”
8yo Miles says, “I want to go in Mom’s boat.” He’s no dummy. He knows the story about how his dad flipped himself over in a kayak once — because he was trying to fling a filthy piece of seaweed at me. Ha! Karma.
Finally, we were out on the water. It was a glorious day. We paddled around, soaking up the sun. We watched the hawks float overhead like kites and searched for turtles on fallen logs. “Ahh. It’s so peaceful out here,” said Miles. That’s my boy.
Afterward, we walked along the shore, skipped stones, and collected shells. We changed clothes in the car and made our way to the restaurant where, sure enough, we were seated on the deck overlooking the river and the shimmering spires of downtown Annapolis. It really couldn’t have been more perfect … for me.
And here’s the part where I have to clarify. Because the day wasn’t PERFECT, per se. For instance, my 6yo promised he would not whine for the entire day. (A bald-faced lie.) There were the usual sibling squabbles in the back seat, and the usual marital squabbles about directions in the front seat. But those things barely registered because I have learned to manage my expectations. This is not my first rodeo.
I have also learned – and it’s taken me a LOOONG time – to honor my own wishes. This is not always easy, since other people’s wishes and expectations tend to be louder. They may even show up on Facebook and TV commercials and burrow into your brain without you noticing so that you start to think, and even be utterly CONVINCED, that every holiday should be marked with Tiffany’s and brunch and a bevy of guests or it doesn’t count. Guess what? It’s not true.
Maybe your “perfect” Mother’s Day is having some low-key fun with your family, having some drinks on the deck, and getting everyone bathed and in bed by 8. And if you manage to squeeze in some yoga and avoid piranhas? Well, in my opinion, it just doesn’t get any better than that.