I’m sure that it’s written somewhere that you shouldn’t rank Mother’s Day celebrations. Not only because it’s crass but also because it suggests that each year’s events should outdo the last for the express purpose of being more and better instead of being reflective of any true sentiment.
But um, if one were forced to rank them, I would have to admit that I think Mother’s Day 2017 was my favourite yet.
To back up this incredibly bold assertion I think I could basically just post the following picture and be done with it:
That is a Love Bug. A goddamn LOVE. BUG. Olive made it at preschool and you know, opening this gift, I think my motherhood experience peaked.
I sat there, nestled in bed with my four-and-a-half-year-old, bathed in sunlight from my bedroom window and holding this very heavy, very tape-covered gift in my hands. Olive could hardly contain herself, she’d been waiting for me to open this all week. As I struggled to open the layers (and layers and layers) of tape and paper she sat there with her eyes glued to my face, raptly watching my expression as I opened the wrapping to reveal this glorious thing, this magnificent bastard.
I know I should watch my language (especially given the subject matter) but I can’t. I caaaan’t. Look at that face!! Holy fuck, it’s the cutest goddamn Love Bug in the whole goddamn world.
It’s the best thing I’ve ever seen. And you know, I always thought that our parents sort of humoured us when we gave them stuff like this. Like, “Ohhhh, how nice! You tried!”. I thought that they kept gifts like these due to a sense of guilt or loyalty or nostalgia. But opening this goddamn Love Bug (that Olive tells me is also a turtle) was one of the best experiences of my life and I say that with utmost sincerity.
I love it. I love it so much, so purely, for everything it is and everything about my daughter that it represents. It is so quintessentially Olive and it is undoubtedly the very first thing I would grab from our house in case of a disaster.
So, I mean, case closed, right? Mother’s Day 2017 wins based on the Love Bug alone.
There was more.
She had made beautiful cards and my sister Lizzie helped her make a painting (me and her in our house with grass and lots of sunshine) and all of it was just so thoughtful and so sweet. And after opening these cards and gifts and crying more than I’d like to admit, we got up and got dressed, then the fun really began.
You see, earlier in the week I’d made reservations for brunch (and then I read this article and loved it so much that I almost canceled the whole thing in solidarity with this amazing woman who just clearly gets it) but my word am I glad we went.
First of all because Olive picked my outfit. Earlier that week when discussing our plans she decreed that she would be choosing both my outfit and her own and I readily agreed, but I had no idea that her choosing something for me to wear would bring up such issues.
She specified that it must be a dress because today was a fancy day. Obviously! No problem there.
I laid out all of my dresses on the bed and waited for the fuckery to begin. And let me tell you, I was committed to this 100%. I had promised that she could pick dress, shoes, jewelry, and hair and I was fully prepared to go out wearing whatever she chose.
Aaaand then she chose a plain black dress and basic black heels.
Huh. Okayyyy. A bit anticlimactic, sure, but Olive’s in charge! Olive wants a plain black dress, she gets it. Maybe she wanted to play ninjas or something? (It’s happened before.)
So I got changed and once I was all put together I called her in to see if it was fancy enough. She ran into the room and then stopped dead in her tracks.
“Mummy!” she cried in astonishment. And I blithely thought that perhaps her next sentence would be something like “Oh, you’re so beautiful!” or “You look perfect!” or “You can barely even see that entire strip of hair you missed shaving on your left leg!”
Instead, she said, “That dress is TOO SHORT.”
Wait – what?
I looked down. I mean, the dress wasn’t ankle-length by any means but it was hardly scandalous. It was a solid mid-thigh dress! Too short?!
“Olive, it’s really not that short,” I replied laughing.
“Mummy,” she replied, sternly. “It is.”
And while I was sputtering and trying to come up with a reply she continued, “Why do you even have that dress?!”
Here’s where I state the obvious and say that I am not a scandalous dresser. I don’t judge others if they do but it’s just really not my style. So this scenario was new to me, having someone offer an opinion like this. The sensation was new, this feeling of standing there and trying to tug the edges of the dress down and feeling slightly ashamed and slightly self-conscious and because it was new to me, it took me a while to catch on to what was happening. But I did catch on, eventually.
You guys, I was being slut-shamed by my very own daughter. My flesh and blood. And on Mother’s Day no less!
Immediately I stopped fussing with my dress, I crossed my arms and steeled my gaze and began to form a statement, a statement which sounded something along the lines of: “Listen here, madam. We do not slut shame in this house. This is my body, and I can clothe it however I see fit. You are free to do the same. I might offer opinions on your clothing; we might discuss the way others will view you or treat you or make assumptions about you based on what you wear but by god, I will never judge you. I will never shame you for your choices or for how you choose to present your body to this weird world of ours.”
I felt like it was a pretty good speech, especially for having come up with it on the spot, still bleary-eyed with sleep.
Unfortunately, I never got to give it. As I was mentally forming this statement and becoming gradually inflated with more and more self-righteous feminist indignation, she interrupted me and said, “Yuuup. You got to change into something better,” and with that, she pointed at a different dress and brought me different shoes and then flounced out of the room.
It was Mother’s Day and I had promised her she could pick. So, I changed.
Her second choice was a ruffled dress – pure white – demure nude heels and green earrings.
Message received, Olive.
And then, because she wanted to remember this Fancy Day, she took pictures. Most of them look like this:
But some of them look worse than that because they have my face in them. And she was asking me to do poses with my face. I don’t know why either. They were terrible. Like, bad catalogue model terrible. I’m not going to show you those ones, but I will show you Olive’s. Because eventually she became impatient with my bad posing and demanded that we switch places so she could show me how it was done.
And, having learned from the master, I was allowed to try again. Tandem.
And as ridiculous as this picture is, please just imagine being the one posing for it.
Imagine holding the overwhelming feelings of the Love Bug and the Slut Shaming and the Pose Harding and the Mother’s Day-ing. Imagine all of those feelings coupled with the fact that it’s only 10 am and you haven’t had coffee yet and yet here you are, doing a mini Barbizon session with your daughter in your living room.
Guys, it was just as amazing as it sounds.
I can’t thank my sister enough for coordinating the cards and the painting, and my mom for arranging an incredible surprise mother-daughter tea party for us (Olive was in on it – all I had was an address and a time we were supposed to show up!).
My day was filled with smiling so hard my face hurt and eating delicate little sandwiches and cookies and walking hand in hand with my daughter who felt so proud and so excited and so special to be celebrating with me.
So you see, Mother’s Day 2017. It was just simply the best.
Over the past few months, I’ve become really aware of how very beautiful it is, this simple life of ours together. And it’s even more beautiful now with the Love Bug in it.