Mother’s Day was always big bust and I was too exhausted to endure it again. This year I came up with a brilliant idea.
Two days before the big event, I prepared my answer to the question, “What do you want for Mother’s Day?”
“Nothing,” I said.
“Come on, we have to get you something. What do you want?”
“Nothing. I want a day filled with nothing. No fighting. No laundry. No cooking. No TV,” I said.
“You’re just saying that. You’d be mad if we don’t get you a gift.”
“Nope. This is what I really want.”
“No way. That’s too hard. Just let us get you a gift.”
I stood my ground and reminded my family that I had been asking for nothing for years. I have suffered through pungent candles, perfume, glittery “Mom” necklaces and coupon books with sayings like “I’ll do the dishes” and “Count on me to clean the house.” Promises never fulfilled.
I explained to them that if they really wanted to get me the gift that I would appreciate and remember, it was the gift of nothing.
For the next two days, I did not hear a peep out of my family. I figured that they would do what they usually do, frantically shop for a gift at the mall or 7-Eleven the evening before Mother’s Day. They would grab the first thing that they spotted, rush the cash register and breathe a sigh of relief that their troubles were over.
But in the morning I was pleasantly surprised. I had dreaded the moment I would have to fake my pleasure at a potted plant or slippers. Again. But on the kitchen table was a card, signed by my husband, daughter and son. That was it.
With a smile and a kiss, they said, “Happy Mother’s Day. Enjoy your breakfast. We’ll be upstairs doing laundry if you need us.” I took a header into the scrambled eggs and bacon. Come again?
“Yeah, we want you to have exactly what you want, the gift of nothing,” said my son, running off to join his sister.
Our house was as quiet as a funeral home, no shouting, no arguing, and no laughter. Everyone went about his or her business.
“I’ll take the kids out of your hair. We’ll be gone a few hours and bring you back lunch,” said my husband.
Once the house was empty, I paced the kitchen, walking around in a circle like a caged animal. I plopped on the sofa. Turned the TV on. Turned the TV off. Is this what I wanted, a silent, vacant place devoid of noise and movement? Standing as rigid as a statue, I opened my mouth wide, outstretched my arms and yelled a huge, “YESSSSSSSSSSSSS.”
With my newfound freedom, I stretched out like a cat on the sofa. All mine. I didn’t have to argue with a kid to move over. I turned on Desperate Housewives extra loud and watched a full-uninterrupted hour without having to re-explain the episode to my husband. I drank a milkshake without anyone grabbing the glass and slurping out of my straw. I read a People magazine and no one peered over my shoulder to ask stupid questions like, “Who is David Cassidy? “ and “What is a Brazilian wax?”
After a few blissful hours alone, my heart rate went down and I smiled to myself, “Life is good.”
Then I heard the slow hum of the garage door opener. Damn, they’re back. Quick, I pretended to be asleep on the sofa. Rushing through the door, they asked, “Did you have a good day? Did you get some rest? Did you miss us?”
“Oh, I really missed you guys. It was so boring and lonely. What did you do?”
They relegated stories of going to the movies and brought back In-N-Out Burgers for me.
“That sounded like fun. I should have gone with you.”
And when they ask me what I wanted for Mother’s Day next year, I said, “Three nights in Hawaii. Alone.”
Read more from Stacey Gustafson on her blog, Are You Kidding Me?