The Thursday before Mother's Day 2010, I learned that I was to be cut from my department at the end of the year. A younger, childless co-worker had approached me the next day, sympathetic and incredulous. "It's just because you're a mom," she'd whispered to me, wide-eyed. I was pretty sure she was right, and the echo of her words served as the soundtrack to my Mother's Day weekend.
I woke up that Sunday achy and feverish. Refusing to believe that I could be both fired and sick on Mother's Day, I insisted on going to my husband's soccer game where it was overcast and blustery, my husband's play was uninspiring and the girls' behavior alternated between whining, fighting, and crying. "But it's Mother's Day," I protested weakly and to no avail.
My husband tried to salvage the day by stuffing me with prescription Motrin and packing us all up for the 45-minute ride to my favorite Vietnamese restaurant, which, we found when we arrived, was closed due to a plumbing emergency. The only place we could find with less than an hour's wait had talking mooseheads on the wall and maybe one menu item that wasn't a slab of beef.
Also, I was fired and angry and really, really sad. I knew that if this was my darkest moment, I was lucky; but I knew it in the same way I knew the earth was round. I understood that it was so, but it was hard to actually feel it and so it wasn't as comforting as it should have been.
A month later, my principal changed his mind and just like that everything was back to how it had been. Sort of.
This Mother's Day, I again started my morning at a cold, windy soccer game, except that my husband scored a goal (and also got a red card, mortifying me at what appeared to be a terrible misreading of my appreciation of aggressive play, but it turned out to be some sort of misunderstanding and the ref rescinded it in the end). I kept warm by chasing a squealingly happy Little E the length of the field, and I had a mimosa on the sideline after the game. I went for a jog in the new running pants that I got for Mother's Day, and for dinner my husband found a spot that claimed New England's best lobster roll, which I enjoyed at an indoor picnic table and followed with coffee kahlua brownie ice cream with chocolate sprinkles.
What with not being fired, sick or forced to dine in the company of talking mooseheads, it was all much better than last year. The very best part, though, was how over the past year --after abruptly losing and improbably regaining my job-- everything never really went back to exactly how it had been.
Hearing Little E's happy shrieks as I bounce her down the field on my back, swapping bites of ice cream with Big E, jogging through the woods, and, yes, even sitting through the Sunday morning soccer game: without a doubt these things feel more important than anything else in my life.
They are a comfort in the face of any hurt, and, like the troubles of last Mother's Day, they are because I am a mom.