On the Common 025
Here comes Mother's Day.
Hello and Happy Thursday,
It’s almost May, so brace yourself for the Justin Timberlake memes.
One aspect of grief that has been at the forefront for me has been general fatigue, and decision fatigue in particular. Mother’s Day is coming up, and I usually have something ordered for both our moms by now. But this year I only have one order to make, and it feels very sad, so I haven’t ordered anything for my mother-in-law…. That seems unfortunate for her. I pledge that by the time this newsletter goes out, I will have amended that.
You are all my witnesses — not really, since you have no idea if I actually did anything at this point.
The Part Where There’s an Essay: In Which I Am Bossy About What We’d Like for Mothers’ Day
Maybe this email has been politely forwarded to you by your wife or one of her friends. Welcome, I’m glad you’re here. I’ll try not to take up too much of your time.
I’m going to fully lean into my position as a mid-40’s woman to get bossy about some things. You can choose to ignore me as you would a bossy older sister, or you can choose to listen to me and make this year a lovely one for your wife.
This is it: the very practical stuff that you might need help with. I get that everyone has different plans, different people, different needs, and different budgets.
This should not be read as condemning what you’ve done thus far for Mother’s Day. You’re doing great. We’re not dwelling on the past. Let’s huddle up, team.
First off, you need a plan. If you haven’t thought about Mother’s Day yet, today’s the day. Get a plan. Make some decisions. I think guys get tangled up in knots about what to do, feeling like they’re never going to get it right. Repeat after me: something is better than nothing. Decide to decide. Think it over, make a plan, execute the plan. You do this every day in other areas of your life. Apply that same method here. Make some decisions.
Here are some things you can do TODAY: call the florist and order flowers to be delivered Friday or Saturday of next week (she gets to enjoy them all weekend!). If she’s the breakfast-in-bed type, locate a pancake recipe to shepherd your children through next weekend. Make a grocery list to shop for next weekend, so you have a nice breakfast for her. Buy a few tiny gift cards for the tiny children to put in their cards for Mom (She will be so happy! They will feel so proud!). Cards can be store bought, or if your kids are little, handmade. Go on Groupon and buy a voucher for a housecleaner or a spa day, which mom can arrange at her convenience.
Do you have tiny children who cling to your wife like their very lives depend on her? I’m willing to bet that she wants some time alone for Mother’s Day. She wants to think a complete thought.
If you have older children who are capable of pitching in around the house, consider rallying them to do all those household chores that she nags them about every day of her life.
BUT ALSO: I will tell you a secret. Mom may instead desire time ALONE IN HER HOME. This is so weird, you guys. SHE IS NEVER IN YOUR HOUSE BY HERSELF. I am going on twenty-two years of motherhood and it’s still very rare that this happens for me. It’s so rare, in fact, that my brain melts a little bit when it happens. I’m not sure what to do when I’m home alone. Perhaps she would like the people to GO AWAY FROM HOME FOR A WHILE.
BE CAREFUL: if it is her usual job to feed people, she would like to not think about feeding people today. If you choose to take the children away from her for a day, DO NOT BRING THOSE CHILDREN HOME HUNGRY. Feed them. Bring them home happy, fed, drunk on Dad Attention. Have. A. Plan. And Chick-fil-a is not open on Sundays, so that’s a bad plan.
(How are we doing, team? Still here? OK, we’re almost done.)
Lastly, she wants to know that’s she’s doing OK. Tell her. She might feel a little guilty that she’d like some time away from the kids. This is ridiculous. Tell her so. Children are wonderful and also exhausting. We all understand this.
Fist bump, you guys. I’m in your corner. You can do this. Report back here with how it goes.
For the Anglophiles
It seems like it’s required of me as an employee of The Good Book Company to let you know that we have a new children’s biography coming out next week about Her Majesty. The marketing pictures have been some of my favorites, also: tulips and tea on the lawn:
Reads & Listens of the Week
In what is perhaps the longest article I may ever send you, Jonathan Haidt explores Why the Past Ten Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid. “The story of Babel is the best metaphor I have found for what happened to America in the 2010s, and for the fractured country we now inhabit. Something went terribly wrong, very suddenly. We are disoriented, unable to speak the same language or recognize the same truth. We are cut off from one another and from the past.”
In case you are not able or willing to read that very excellent, very long article above, here are two podcasts discussing it: one, Russell Moore interviewed Haidt about it; two, The Holy Post discussed it in their first segment last week.
It seems we have a theme this week, because I would also love for you to listen to the Good Faith podcast interview with Andy Crouch about his new book, The Life We’re Looking For. I cannot emphasize this enough: read Andy Crouch. Read Andy Crouch.
“..in May one simply can't help being thankful . . . that they are alive, if for nothing else. I feel exactly as Eve must have felt in the garden of Eden before the trouble began.” - Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea