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The Magic and Mayhem of Modern Mummyhood

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In my life, I have enjoyed 15 Mother's Days. The first one got off to a bit of a rocky start, (let's just say there's a certain man in my life who will never live down forgetting to buy me a card from our new daughter) but ended well.

Generally speaking, I'm about as much a fan of the day as I am of Valentine's Day and the other so-called Hallmark holidays, which means that I'm really not.

Don't get me wrong. I loved the handmade, Popsicle stick picture frames and plastic bead necklaces and bracelets. I still have them. And I look forward to having one day in the year when "Clean your room" is said once and the end result is an actual clean room.

For me, Mother's Day has generally meant trying to negotiate time slots for my mother and my mother-in-law (preferably when each can have their whole families there, as it should be) and then trying to wedge in a bit of time with my own little family. Not that I begrudge a minute of it. I know there will be a time in my life when I wish I was trying to fit in those visits around my own selfish schedule and long for a busy Mother's Day again.

As a writer, Mother's Day also allows me the opportunity to wax poetic on the magic -- and the mayhem -- that is modern mummyhood.

Like the time when our daughter was five and she and I were at Discovery Cove in Orlando.

I was a magazine editor at the time, and on a press trip. I was supposed to participate in everything they offered, including the Dolphin Experience, so I could write about it later. But it was strictly for the seven-and-over crowd, and it seemed awful to do it without her, so over we went to the stingray pool while the others did their dolphin thing.

She was wearing the prettiest, multi-coloured bathing suit that day. I don't know if colour attracts stingrays, but as she stood up to look at them, I saw what must have been a baby stingray make a beeline for her. In two great flaps it crossed the water at a speed I didn't know a baby stingray could achieve. Before I could warn her, it glided over half the pool, skimmed up her legs and was belly to belly with her. I'm sure they heard her scream in Miami.

I stood there, unable to move for what seemed like forever. Then I did what I believe many mothers in the same situation would do. I burst out laughing.

Or the time when she was maybe 10, and we were visiting a friend of mine down south. A friend of hers invited us for a cookout. It was a sultry summer night and he offered to bring out the kayaks so the kids could paddle around in the river behind his house while the adults chatted. All went well until my daughter realized she was drifting out from the shore. Despite our best efforts to convince her to the contrary, she panicked and cried, declaring for all who could hear that she was going to die out there ("out there" being about three feet from land). My friend's son - nine months older than her - took control of the situation and stepped out of his boat alongside hers, into roughly shin-deep water, and pulled her back in.

She was furious. And embarrassed. And furious. And (again), all I could do was stand on shore and laugh.

Which brings me to my very favourite mothering story of all time, which does not involve anyone in my immediate family (you're welcome):

My friend has two boys and lives in very rural area of the south and there's a strong military presence nearby. Her home is surrounded by pine trees and as boys will do, her sons would spend hours playing epic (and authentic) games of war and manhunt with the boys next door.

One spring evening five or six years ago, we were on the phone as she was trying to herd her boys into showers, then bed.

"Mom!" came a call from upstairs at her house.

"Shower," she yelled back, barely skipping a beat in our conversation.

"Mom!!" came the call again a few minutes later, with a little more urgency.

"Shower!!" she echoed, with slightly less patience.

After a few more volleys back and forth - him yelling for her to come, her yelling for him to Get. Into. The. Bloody. Shower. Already. - his final call came; this one tinged with desperation:

"Mom! There's a tick on my dick and I need you to get it off!"

"I need to go," she said, stifling a laugh as she hung up the phone.

This Mother's Day, I will wake at an ungodly early hour to shuttle my daughter 45 minutes to a regatta (she's overcome the boat issues) for 6:45 a.m., then visit my mother and my mother-in-law to deliver gifts and cards I have bought them. I will hopefully come home to a house where I don't have to do anything but relax. I will probably come home, do laundry, work out and take the dog for a walk. There won't be macaroni and glue Mother's Day gifts for me this year. Nor will there be anything extravagant.

Either way, it's O.K. I'm grateful to be a mom, and to have moms to celebrate again this year. I don't need a new ring or necklace or diamond earrings, no matter how much the jewellers try to tell me I do.

But if someone would like to do the laundry, I wouldn't say no.

Happy Mother's Day one and all. Here's hoping it's tick-free.