My absolute favorite movie quote comes from Date Night, the Tina Fey/Steve Carrell pic about a married couple whose dinner out turns crazy thanks to a case of mistaken identity. In it, Phil (Carrell) asks his wife Claire (Fey) if she ever fantasizes about other men. She responds so perfectly with:
“There are times when I’ve just thought about, on my worst day, just, you know, leaving our house and going some place. Like checking into a hotel and just being in a quiet room by myself. Just sitting in a quiet air-conditioned room, sitting down, eating my lunch with no one touching me, drinking a Diet Sprite, by myself.”
Can I get an AMEN?
Dads and kids, I’m going to let you in on a little secret as you begin to think about what to get us moms for Mother’s Day: What we really want, more than anything else, is to be alone. Sure, jewelry, books, flowers and macaroni necklaces are all great, but more than anything, we want just want a few hours to ourselves.
(Of course, I’m talking about mothers with young kids. Something tells me that when they are teenagers and older, you’re actually hoping they’ll make time for you on Mother’s Day.)
Don’t take our desire to be alone personally. It’s not like we’re trying to escape you or go all young Vivi from Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and flee to a hotel for a week, staring catatonically out the window as we smoke cigarettes. (Ok, maybe sometimes we fantasize about that.)
What we really want is camp out on the couch and watch Bravo or HGTV or Law & Order: SVU for several hours without feeling guilty. Or to read more than a few pages of a book without getting interrupted. Or not spend a day in the car shuttling kids back and forth from sporting events, birthday parties and play dates. Or to clean out our closet while listening to bad 80s music and singing to it at the top of our lungs. Or to eat a meal without getting up 26 times to get someone more milk, or more noodles, or a towel to clean up spilled milk. Or to nap.
And when the kids are around, none of that can happen.
It’s a pretty easy, inexpensive thing to execute if you think about it. While a night away by ourselves would be heavenly, it’s probably not feasible for most of us, so consider one of these options instead:
1. Take the kids to your mother’s for Mother’s Day, and leave your wife at home. This is a win-win because you are making both the women in your life happy.
2. Take the kids to the mall, and have them pick out a Mother’s Day present. I mean, being alone is splendid, but capping that day alone off by being presented with new earrings, purse, or (hint) iPhone 6 would be amazing.
3. Take the kids to paint pottery or make something arty for mom.
4. Go for a hike, tucker the kids out so when they get home they’re exhausted, and go to bed early.
5. When the kids wake up, head out of the house so mom can sleep in in a silent house. Added points for making coffee before you leave and leaving behind a croissant, muffin or some other breakfast food.
6. Have a punch list of errands mom usually runs on the weekend, and do them all for her with kids in tow.
7. Tell mom to get lost for the day to do whatever she pleases, and stay at home completing a honey-do list and have the kids help clean the house.
What it all comes down to is this: The best Mother’s Day gift you can give is some time off from being a mom.