I had exciting news to share and thought today would be the day, but in order to work around a particularly detail-filled week, I’m going with my latest parenting column instead for now. I wrote it for the first week of May, for the many moms out there who may (no pun intended) be able to commiserate a bit. Enjoy!
[The following column was printed in The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead on May 1, 2012. Reprinted with permission.]
By: Roxane B. Salonen, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead
Ah, May, that lovely month that allows us mothers to paint our toenails, kick up our heels, order a glass of iced tea with lemon and curl up with a favorite novel, all guilt-free.
Wait – not so much, you say?
It’s true. Some days the month seems more a consolation prize for having survived than an excuse for a bubble bath.
In fact, 17 years into this mothering thing, I’m beginning to suspect something amiss in the mild May air – a conspiracy of sorts, perhaps.
In our household – and I know we’re by no means unique here – May has proven to be a logistical nightmare. Rather than lilting through the tulips, we mothers are more often yanking our tired selves to the next end-of-year activity.
The Salonen May calendar includes concerts, field trips, hoards of soccer games and tennis matches, ample graduations receptions, a confirmation event, several awards ceremonies, early-morning kite-flying on school grounds, and, oh yeah, let’s throw in a May birthday for kicks.
And yet, I have to say, despite the exhausting agenda that makes June look like one big exhale, my conspiracy theory goes out the window midway through with the one day in which we’re honored.
I’ve even come to regard Mother’s Day as several levels above my own birthday. It’s my mother who deserves accolades for the latter, after all. She’s the one who did all the work there.
But becoming a mother myself – I fully participated in saying “yes” to that one, even while having at least some notion of the complications it would bring.
So from my very first Mother’s Day, with child number one still residing in the inner sanctuary of my womb, I’ve embraced the day like no other.
This year, my anticipation over a happy celebration with my munchkins was threatened with the rotating weekend-work schedule, which put me at the office on May 13. The one day I allow myself to truly revel in having helped bring five lively, complex souls into the world would be immersed in dispatch check-ins and obsessing over the police scanner.
It seemed so symbolic of the loss that inevitably comes with the gain of a new venture. And though I know I’m not the first mother to have been scheduled to work on Mother’s Day, it felt heavy.
Enter Meredith, a colleague who offered to work in my stead. It’s hard for me to express in words how much lighter I felt knowing I’d be surrounded this Mother’s Day in burnt toast and hand-made creations rather than police reports, all because someone was willing to make my burden hers.
It might take a village to raise a child, but my revised motto is that it takes a village to keep a mother thriving. Meredith’s willingness to take one for the team – my personal team – has not gone unnoticed.
And if I think about it, I see another village member in another colleague who picked up some hours so I wouldn’t drown, and in my supervising editor, who has been amazing in working around complications that have arisen in my life as a working mother of five.
Yes, May is an extraordinarily busy month that can run us ragged more than have us feeling refreshed. But this is motherhood, that beautiful mix of relational joy and sorrow, and the more we have of one, the more our lives will contain the other if we’re real. We really can thrive through it all, though, with a little help from our friends.
So to Meredith, and all those who have lifted me up during times of motherhood-inducing consternation, thank you.
And if I’m not quite there yet, I hope someday I can be part of your village.