Hint: It’s not flowers.
It’s no surprise that “winter holidays” account for the largest U.S. spending of the year. But did you know that Mother’s Day comes in second, with families spending, on average, nearly $200 on their beloved moms?
I have two things to say on the subject: First, I’m pretty sure the handmade picture frame I get from my son every year costs nowhere close to that. Second, what if the gift that moms really want this year costs nothing at all?
I know what you’re thinking, “Oh, how sweet, they just want time with their families!” Nope, wrong again: we actually want to be alone.
Don’t get me wrong, I hope my three- and five-year-olds climb into bed with me at dawn (as long as they don’t wake me up). Later, we can cuddle and watch cartoons while I sip coffee and my husband makes pancakes. After breakfast, we’ll head off on a hike with my in-laws; the kids will hold my hands and hunt for endangered blue butterflies. Marlowe will give me the card she’s been furtively coloring and I can finally open the mystery gift that Teddy’s been working so hard on at school. (I hope it’s a picture frame).
Finally, it’s time for my husband to give me his gift. Hold the flowers and chocolate and heart shaped necklace, babe — I just want time.
As a working mom, time to myself is not something I have much of. My friends who are full-time moms have even less. Any spare time I do have is plagued with guilt and to-dos. “I should pick up the kids early today.” “I have got to get that email out.” “We have no food in the house.” “I still haven’t signed Teddy up for gymnastics, RSVP’d for that party, or bought my sister a birthday present.” “That load of laundry has been in the dryer since Wednesday.” “What am I going to make for dinner tonight?” “The house looks like a bomb went off.” “Have I really not exercised at all this week?” “I wonder what’s new on Instagram?”
Granted, I am extraordinarily lucky to work part-time, from home, with flexible hours. But the repercussion is a permanently conflicted, distracting world where there is no separation between family and work and there are always 19 things I could possibly doing at one time.
My kids are to die for — healthy and beautiful and carefree and curious. But they also have no sense of personal space and kind of think the world revolves around them. Typical, I am told, though still wearing. Teddy barges in on me in the bathroom to ask me where his paper airplane is. Marlowe sits on my lap at the computer and tries to type her name on the keyboard. Teddy leaves a trail of scraps from his latest art project all over the house. Marlowe requests a snack or drink or story or band-aid seemingly every 30 seconds. They both want to show me the spider they found outside or the new trick they learned at school. (And I want to see it.)
But this Sunday, the stories and spiders will have to wait. I just want time. I want to wander the Target aisles, alone. I want to read a book in my room, savoring the quiet. I want to paint my nails and take a nap while they dry. (They will take an exceptionally long time to dry.) I want to take a shower, uninterrupted, with the shower radio on full blast. If I’m lucky, a Justin Bieber song will come on. (Yes, we have a shower radio. And yes, I like Justin Bieber). I want to blow-dry my hair so I can’t hear the kids fighting over their Beanie Boos.
By evening, I’ll be ready to read stories and come see that (dead) bug they caught in a jar. We can have a paper airplane contest and jump on the trampoline. Heck, I might even be up for a little Candy Land. I’ll be restored, refreshed and revitalized — the greatest gift of all.
So save your $200, my loves. All I want is time.
Happy Mother’s Day!
About the author: Liza Bennigson is a mom of two and the Director of Business Development at KonnectAgain, a corporate alumni software startup. She enjoys running, writing, online shopping, and dance parties with her kids.
Follow her here: @LizaBennigson