Today I was in a mood.
Nothing was going right. I have been a bit fatigued and tending toward a fibromyalgia flare since my Moderna shot last Thursday, and that made me nervous– for some mysterious reason I haven’t had a bad fibromyalgia flare since about last February, and I want to keep that streak going.
I was also nervous about the situation with the neighbor and the restraining order. The neighbor has gone from hiding quietly for a few days to ranting at the other neighbors again, which means she’ll do something terrible to us at any minute; she’s been repeating this cycle again and again for five years, and I don’t know if a piece of paper from the sheriff is going to make her stop. We have to mow our grass soon. The weeds are getting high; the dandelions are all balls of white fluff. If it were just me, I’d let them grow thigh-high, because I like dandelions. But city ordinances demand they get mowed every so often or we’ll get a ticket. And every time we mow the lawn, the neighbor comes out to curse and threaten us with that dog. She is obsessed with anyone’s lawnmower coming near her property line.
Meanwhile, the Neighborhood Trolley has developed a loud noise due to something the matter with the oxygen sensor which will have to be fixed, costing money we don’t have just like everything costs money we don’t have. I don’t know what happens if you don’t fix the oxygen sensor. Maybe the car suffocates. I don’t intend to find out.
But it wasn’t just the car or the neighbor or the fibro; those are everyday worries. I woke up this morning especially anxious and crabby. Rosie was no better. She coldly tolerated me until mid-afternoon when she snapped at me, rudely, and I snarled back. I left her an orphan with only her father and the television for solace, and stormed out to the noisy car to go for a drive by myself.
I didn’t want to go far with the car making noises, so I just drove to the grocery store.
There’s not much fun to be had at the grocery store, particularly during COVID. But I treated myself to a ketogenic cookie, and bought an iced coffee at the Starbucks on the way out. To do that, I had to pass by a whole minefield of Mothers’ Day displays: cards, roses, carnations, forests of potted succulents, massive bulbous tumors of pink and red balloon arrangements. By the time I got to the car, I felt worse than ever.
Maybe I’m so cross because it’s Mothers’ Day weekend.
Mother’s Day Weekend has always been a hard weekend for me. I lost my mother to the Charismatic Renewal and I started off motherhood in a horrendously abusive situation I don’t like to remember. This year is my first Mothers’ Day with a PCOS diagnosis. I now know the reason why Rosie doesn’t have a sibling. I have some hope of beating the clock and giving her one, maybe, if I just do every nightmare thing the doctor says and if I’m lucky. That’s good. Knowing the reason is good. But it’s also overwhelming.
Does anyone really like Mothers’ Day?
It seems like a holiday designed to hurt people.
If your mom is dead or dying, Mothers’ Day stinks.
If your mom was abusive, it stinks.
If you didn’t grow up with a mom, it stinks.
If you long to be a mom but can’t be, it stinks.
If you long to be a mom of a huge gaggle of little ones but can barely squeeze out one or two, it stinks.
If you’ve had a miscarriage, it stinks.
If you don’t long to be a mom and the world tells you that’s bad, it stinks.
If you are a mom but you only have a small number of children and are therefore not mom enough to please the straitlaced Catholic community, whether that’s by choice or by hard luck, it stinks to high Heaven.
If you DO hit the jackpot and have or are a perfect mother, then your reward is a recited blessing from the pastor at church, a late lunch at a restaurant after church, and a plastic bottle of bubble bath as a gift, maybe some limp carnations. Nothing more exciting than that.
That’s not a holiday.
Holidays should involve fun and jollification. There should be shenanigans. There should be music, dancing, sweetmeats, butter lambs, floral garlands, parades, renewal of vows, canceling of debts, freeing of hostages, squirting each other with colored dye, icons paraded through the streets on the backs of elephants, important people paraded through the streets in sedan chairs. Some kind of inexplicable baptized pagan being like the Easter Bunny should show up with baskets of gifts people actually want. Young women should go to sleep with a Mothers’ Day talisman under their pillows the night before. Children should not be able to sleep at all out of excitement. We should tell ghost stories around a bonfire and sing archaic carols. That’s a holiday. We could all use a holiday. Holidays are fun. Mothers’ Day is not fun.
Perhaps next year I’ll escape Mothers’ Day all together. I’ll go to a vigil Mass the night before and then take Michael and Rosie and the Neighborhood Trolley out to the mountains to see the rhododendrons blooming, and not come back until Tuesday at the earliest. I’ve never been in the heart of West Virginia, deep in Real Appalachia where my ancestors came from, at that time of year. We always visited in August when summer was almost over. It would be fun to go when it’s just beginning. We could rent one of those old CCC cabins, make a fire in the fireplace, and burn newspapers with sappy Mothers’ Day ads. I could go for a hike in the woods, dip my toes in the stream, skip some rocks. Rosie has always wanted to go fishing and paddle a boat. I could do what I always do when I’m hiking in the woods and pretend to be a Tolkien elf.
I am a failure as a mother, but I think I’d make a good Tolkien elf. Someone once told me that “Dandelion,” pronounced Dan-DEL-ee-on, actually works as an Elven name in one of the languages Tolkein invented. It would translate as “son of the one who stands up to terror,” and the female variant would be Dandeliel. I have no idea if that’s true, but I want it to be true. I would like to be an elf named Dandeliel, crowned with a yellow ring of dandelions, dancing in the rhododendron thickets in West Virginia and ignoring Mothers’ Day.
Now that would be a holiday.
I’ll go out to the mountains as soon as possible– this summer, for certain. Even if I miss the rhododendrons, I won’t miss the dandelions. Even if it doesn’t drown out Mothers’ Day, it’s a trip I’ve been longing to take for ten years or more. The mountains are a cure for so many kinds of anxiety.
I found myself buying a package of gluten-free Oreos for Rosie, as an apology for being such a grouch. When I got back home she had already forgiven me anyway: she was outside on our dandelion-strewn lawn with a pair of field glasses, happily admiring a great big crane doing work on the LaBelle water tower. The menacing neighbor was nowhere to be seen. I rested so the fatigue wouldn’t creep back up.
I’m not much of a mother, but perhaps a part of me is already an elf crowned in weeds, a ridiculous undignified wood elf whose name is “daughter of the one who stands up to terror.”
Just at the moment, even on this dismal Mothers’ Day weekend, life seemed all right.
Image via Pixabay
Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.
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