By Alicia Harper, REDBOOK.
Alicia and Aiden"If you could have anything in the world, what is the one thing that you'd like for Mother's Day?"
Since Aiden was born, I have always been asked some variation of that question around this time of year. And every time I was asked, I pretty much gave the exact same answer: a day off. All I've ever wanted for Mother's Day was a day off - to sleep until noon, to use the bathroom in peace, to not have to clean up spills on the kitchen floor, to not have to hear, "That's not fair!" for the millionth time, to just…be.
It seems like I was always stressed out with the demands of motherhood, and then single motherhood, and then graduate student-motherhood that all I wanted was time off. Just one day.
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But this year is different.
Since starting a new job last year, I've done my best to "lean in" to my career. I worked the long hours. I sacrificed sleep, and late nights gave way to early mornings, which gave way to even longer work days. I postponed outings with friends in order to complete projects for work. They all seem to be focusing on their careers, too, so it was fine, I suppose. Sheryl Sandberg would be proud.
It paid off because, a few weeks ago, I was offered a new position with a higher salary and more responsibilities. I'm climbing the career latter.
But not without a price.
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The thing about this single mom gig is, it ain't easy! And it requires trade-offs. Sometimes I had one sitter drop Aiden off at school and a different one pick him up, all because work called for an early morning and a late evening. Sometimes I had to stop at Starbucks on the way home from work just so I could have the energy to devote to my sweet and rambunctious little boy. Sometimes I ordered take-out because I just wanted to spend an extra half-hour playing on the living room floor with Aiden, and not cooking dinner.
I love what I do and I feel blessed to be able to do it every day, but don't think I've ever savored the weekends as much as I do now. They're filled with activities just for Aiden and me - swimming, soccer, trips to the children's museums, and excursions around NYC. And brunch! (We love to eat.) For the first time in a long time, I'm fully content with cutting myself off from the rest of the world because I realize how precious time with my son is. (Seriously, don't even think about emailing me on the weekends because I won't respond until Monday morning.)
This year, for the first time, on Mother's Day, I don't want a day off.
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I want Aiden to crawl into my bed at the crack of dawn, waking me up so that we can play. I want him to knock on the bathroom door 15 times to ask 15 different questions for the entire three minutes that I'm in there. I want him to spill his apple juice on the kitchen floor for the umpteenth time. I want the whining and the pouting and the, "That's not fair!" exclamations. I want the big smiles, and the sticky kisses, and the tight hugs.
I want the chaos, in all its glory. I want to be with my son. The entire day. Engrossed in motherhood.
Anything else would just not suffice.
Alicia Harper, M.A., Ed.M. is a single mother, freelance writer, blogger, and recent graduate of Columbia University who's now a mental health therapist. Her life is filled with all things pink, except for the one bit of blue-her rambunctious 4-year-old son. Together they make a great pair, and Alicia chronicles the trials and triumphs of being a young, single mother living in NYC at Mommy Delicious.
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