Oprah called it the toughest job in the world, and we think it just might be. Whether mom has a job, stays at home or does a little of both, the work is nonstop. Kids aren't known for respecting "mommy time." For little ones even the bathroom is fair game.
But then, once a year, on the second Sunday in May, if she's lucky enough to have a willing partner and/or children on the mature side, mom may just get an entire day off the clock. A full morning of sleep. Twenty-four hours of pure, unadulterated Me Time.
Happy Mother's Day. It's time to treat yourself.
Here, 10 ways to spend that unadulterated Me Time that might be enough to get you through an entire year without locking yourself in the bathroom just to get a minute of peace. Some of them actually include your family.
We'll begin with one of those. It's a Mother's Day staple we've come to know and love …
Sure, it may be 11 a.m. But we promise, it's 5 o'clock somewhere.
Mother's Day brunch is a holiday staple, and it may just be happening at your favorite restaurant. It doesn't get much more indulgent than delicious food cooked by someone else, a doting family and a late-morning/early-afternoon mimosa (or bloody Mary, or vodka cranberry). They're excellent daytime splurges only made better by your partner cutting your toddler's food while you sip, savor and sigh with contentment.
Considering splurging on the French toast (with powdered sugar!) to accompany your cocktail. Calories shmalories. It's your day.
Up next: If sighs of contentment are your thing …
Oh, the tension, stress and blotchiness that is childrearing, and the relief, respite and meditative bliss that is a spa day. Or a spa hour. Or a spa 30 minutes.
There's a reason why massages, facials and body wraps are some of the most popular Mother's Day gifts. This level of pampering produces a sense of calm that is palpable, and possibly lavender-scented. There are all sorts of specials around this time, so go ahead and buy yourself some muscle-relaxing, skin-softening, body-smoothing Mommy Time. Even an hour will do (but we recommend two).
Maybe facials aren't your thing. Consider, then, a centuries-old ritual. It involves pastries …
It recalls a time of lace, doilies and country estates. A time when women had more time on their hands -- unless they were peasants, which most were, but anyway, this is a prime time for pretending.
So book yourself a table at High Tea. You'll often find one at fancy hotels, tea houses and some nice restaurants, and it's about quiet conversation in the middle of the day, fine tea and adorable little finger foods like scones and tiny sandwiches with the crusts cut off -- by someone else. Bring a friend, bring the family or bring a book.
If you have a daughter, it makes an excellent girls' day, especially, and a Mother's Day outing that could become a yearly tradition.
Up next: Mommy needs a dye job …
Sometimes, it's tough to find time in the day to take a shower, let alone get a haircut and color, a makeover or a full-on mani-pedi with extremity massage.
But it's Mother's Day, so go crazy. Have a pro color your hair, your fingernails, your toenails and your face -- and if you're up for some girl time, bring along some friends and make a party of it. Some salons will even let you bring wine and watch the soaps while aestheticians fawn over you.
Up next: Laugh, cry, cheer …
How long has it been since you've watched a movie you wanted to watch? The one that annoys your partner and bores your kid? The one with the happy ending and the adorable leading man who is utterly changed by true love?
Yes, it's the chick flick, and on this day it's yours for the taking. That may mean a movie theater, a DVD or a TV airing of that movie you missed five years ago because you were busy changing poopy diapers.
It can be a family thing, a friend thing or a you thing. Incidentally, if you've never gone to a movie alone, you have no idea what you're missing (all the popcorn, none of the judgment, for one thing).
Up next: Bubbles!
When's the last time you took a hot bath, perhaps with bubbles, the air scented with orange, azalea or vanilla? Maybe you opened a book, sipped champagne or listened to music while the faint light of candles flickered softly in the steam.
Oh yeah. It's a bath.
If you've got a soaker tub or -- lucky girl -- a Jacuzzi, you're good to go. Otherwise, we do recommend investing in a bath pillow.
Just send the kids to Grandpa's or out to the park with Dad, or give 'em some snacks and sit them in front of the tube. Your annual relaxation is certainly worth an hour of cartoons.
Up next: An empty home can be a good thing …
So often, it's cartoon voices, or pop music, or cries of "mommy!" that fill the house, and it's everybody else's maintenance that keeps you moving from room to room.
Sometimes, the greatest gift you can give yourself is not a day out, but a day in. A few hours to pad through your home and do what you want, when you want, how you want. Sit on the couch with some tea and a blanket and watch what you want to watch, do a crossword, shop online or just enjoy the silence.
Or, gasp, take a nap!
Chances are, there are things you used to do at home, things you enjoyed, before the kids came. Things you miss. Clear the house for a couple of hours, put on your sweatpants, and do those things. It can be as rejuvenating as a spa day, and a lot less expensive.
Up next: Speaking of shopping …
Not every woman goes gaga for accessories. Some care not a whit for purses -- or scarves or earrings or fine, metallic-leather belts that go with absolutely everything.
And some women do. If you're one that cares, and you typically practice restraint because, well, who has disposable income these days, give yourself a little break for Mother's Day and grab some instant fashion gratification.
Don't go into debt to do it, of course. But if there's something you've had your eye on, and it's within reach, treat yourself. Something like a handbag can give you pleasure every day until you get to splurge again, which might not be until next May. So make it count.
Up next: Time with your honey …
With all the joys of motherhood, and there are a lot of them, there are also some real drawbacks. One of those could be a decrease in the time you get to spend with your partner, just the two of you.
Mother's Day doesn't have to mean treating only yourself. Spend some sans-kid time with your significant other -- no working, no phone calls, no refereeing. It can do wonders for your relationship just to have a dinner together when you can talk, just the two of you. It can have deep, long-lasting benefits. You may find yourself making a habit of it.
And finally, treat yourself to some commiseration.
No one understands the joys, the challenges and the overall crazy journey that is motherhood like other moms. If you want to treat yourself to some laughing, validation and back-patting this Mother's Day, grab some mommy friends and make a night of it.
Dinner, drinks, bowling, shopping, whatever -- just get together and share. Especially if this is something you rarely get to do, you'll probably find it leaves you with a warm, confident, connected feeling that lasts for quite a while. Not a bad gift to give yourself.
Maybe all of these sound perfect, and you can plan your next 10 Mother's Days and always have something to look forward to. Or maybe none of them sounds just right. In that case, sit down and ponder what you'd love. It's not selfish, it's Mother's Day. It actually is all about you.
For more information on Mother's Day, look over the links on the next page.
HowStuffWorks learns about the free-range parenting philosophy and talks to the movement's founder Lenore Skenazy.
- "17 Ways to Treat Yourself on Mother's Day." Baby Center. (April 19, 2011)http://www.babycenter.com/0_17-ways-to-treat-yourself-on-mothers-day_1127813.bc
- "Mother's Day Central: Mother's Day Activities." (April 19, 2011)http://www.mothersdaycentral.com/mothers-day-activities/
- Ord, Holly. "A Little Mother's Day History." Woman Tribune. May 5, 2008. (April 19, 2011)http://womantribune.com/little-mothers-day-history
- "Treat Yourself on Mother's Day!" Mom Logic. May 7, 2010. (April 19, 2011)http://www.momlogic.com/2010/05/top_5_treat_yourself_on_mothers_day.php