Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Step 10: Mother’s Day Leftovers

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Step 10: We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

It's the morning after Mother's Day and here I sit, chin in hands, reeling with an emotional hangover. I check my e-mail and pick my poison. Here's one from my husband: "The boss says to take you out to dinner on the company tab for all my hard work recently." I guffaw, wishing someone had said that to me just yesterday. "Every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us."

A good friend got sent to therapy after a Mother's Day gone bad. Her own mother suggested it and paid for it. I haven't seen that one on a Hallmark commercial.

They'll notice me when I'm gone. (That would be a great beer-swigging country song.) I don't do holidays well. I am complicit, which is what the tenth step is about. This step is a combination of steps four and nine, in case we didn't get the message that unsparing self-survey and amends are necessary habits to keep us sober (and sane). I know what I'm doing today, and I'm doing it anyway. I could pray the tenth step prayer: "Selfishness, dishonesty, resentment and fear are the things to watch for. Ask God at once to remove them." But for now, I'm reveling in the toddler's posture of lower lip stuck out, arms crossed, brow furrowed, babbling to myself about how unfair grown-ups are.

I know how lucky I am to have been given the gift of motherhood. Beyond words. There are so many who cannot or who have lost. How can I expect more than to have a child? But I'm human, so I do. I expect some words of loving kindness.

My husband and son did a few things right: breakfast and gifts and homemade stuff from school -- my favorite. I should have just cleaned my plate and called it a day. It devolved from there into the boys' brand of cleaning ("so you won't have to"), a planned trip to Wal-Mart (I can't think of a worse affront), a grocery run for strawberry shortcake supplies (which I made), a cold pizza lunch, and a long ride to my mother's house. The trip home ended with leftovers, eaten alone, while the boys cleaned out the bunny cage. After my son was in bed, the world weighed too much so I put myself to bed, too. I let slip, "This day sucked," to which my husband grunted as he fell asleep.

So enough of taking other people's inventories, although it's more fun raiding their closets than my own. I know what's in mine, and it's not a pocketful of sunshine. It's fear over losing Mom and Dad, and sadness. Sadness at hearing Mom tell me the same story over and over, at seeing my parents' dirty bathroom and empty fridge. Dad may have had a mild stroke in the last few weeks, and we've taken him to the doctors, had the scans and MRI. We're all afraid and weary.

There's a gloomy forecast, an overworked spouse, the price of gas, my husband's dental work not covered by insurance (but that can be traded for an old boat), and the real tornadoes sweeping the county. There's Daniel's first fight, at an upscale park on the lake where a perfectly pressed and pleated city kid pushed him and his friend around and then taunted, "You can't catch me," which is the wrong thing to say to my son. (Since tee ball began we've dubbed him "Dash.") Daniel grabbed the bully and threw a few kicks his way before Daddy broke it up. Daddy retells the soon-to-become-legendary fight with a sociological bent: our country boy with the unfortunate faux Hawk haircut and his buddy with the missing teeth and poor boy's bike came to town and cleaned up the mean streets of the asphalt playground.

Step Ten asks: Can we stay sober and maintain emotional balance under any condition? Or will yesterday's negativity sicken us today? I did not return my husband's email because I couldn't think of anything nice to say. Somehow my restraint paid off. He surprised me by coming home early with balloons, flowers, a chocolate cake, and dinner. That helped my condition. ("The great part about doing this late is that everything is half price!" he said.) Sometimes there's nothing better than a good cry and a piece of chocolate cake, after your spot-check inventory reveals you have lots of spots. Hope your Mother's Day was half-price, or at least covered by insurance.

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Oh, thank you for that. It's good to know that there are other people who dislike holidays as much as I do. They really are a set-up for disaster most of the time. This year I kept things chill by not allowing any grand plans but a long drive (like you) to see my own mother. My husband magically had the wherewithal to bring me a HOT breakfast in bed (like, when was the last time you had a conplete hot bed???), along with a box of my favorite fancy salt caramels and the section of the Sunday New York Times I like best. This never happens, by the way. My husband is the king of predictable and traditional gifts. And I guess this was, too, but the fact is, the breakfast was HOT. And the paper was mine. And I got the candy I like best. And the kids were so proud of themselves and thrilled. They sat on the edge of the bed and watched me eat. The rest of the day I just tried to make it through being around my parents, who start drinking at three in the afternoon. I told myself, I will leave the moment I feel icky. So I did. And it was fine. And then, mercifully, over. Good for your hubby for trying again, and good for you for letting him.
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