Whoever put Mother's Day in May must have been a man. Certainly not a mother. A quick zip to Google confirms both counts. Anna Jarvis, single and childless, campaigned fervently for a day to honor her mother and all others. Her passion eventually spurred President Woodrow Wilson to make it official in 1914. Not mothers, either one. Because if they had been, they wouldn't have stuck the holiday in the busiest month I know for moms, making it just one more thing to check off a seemingly endless list.
This May has even been pretty light for me, since soccer ended last month and my kids' other sports aren't team endeavors. Don't talk to me about Boy Scouts, though, and the approximately 247 emails cluttering my inbox. I guess our Brownie Leader did us a favor by getting her panties in a wad and cancelling the rest of the meetings for the year, although I'm still not sure I won't spend an equivalent number of hours consoling a little girl who won't "bridge." In addition to sports and Scouts, there are teacher gifts to buy and cards to make (gift cards alone just won't do; a handwritten note is the least we can do for those saints who take my young for seven hours a day, thus sparing my children the fate of some other young), final projects to supervise (did you know puffballs make lovely bees to decorate your Utah state float?), plus parties and field days begging for volunteers. Not to mention the scramble to figure out camps and vacations and plans for the long, long days of neither.
I think it was my son's second year of preschool when May became a sprint. Marathon runners have nothing on moms this month; we all deserve two-pound plates of spaghetti every night to prepare us for the onslaught of each coming day. Last week I baked six dozen scones and hauled them, along with clotted cream and jam and tea bags and cups and plates and napkins (and fruit salad for the teacher who doesn't eat sugar) to the teacher's staff meeting, all the while juggling a not-really-sick kid who chose Bake-O-Rama Day 2010 to gag up the salt water the nurse gave her to temper a sore throat. And that was before I toted three kids to Tae Kwan Do and wrangled homework, but after the mini-bake-o-rama of brownies and banana bread for the paramedics who'd rescued us a few days earlier. Oh, I didn't mention the stretcher in the nature preserve? Must be May, because it almost seemed normal.
This year, as I said, hasn't even been quite as bad as usual. Last year, on top of everything else (soccer and softball and Brownies, oh my), I was tearing apart a manuscript every spare moment I could find and managed to finish it up before the last day of school. I almost envy myself that task; this year, I'm still writing the first draft of my WIP, and there are days the directive "write" is the only item left unchecked at the end of a frantic day.
And reading? Woe unto she who publicly commits to reading a particular genre! Since I blogged about classic literature and my intention to read just that this month, I've sort of kept my promise: I haven't read anything but classics. I just haven't read much of anything. Still working through the second book of Utopia, and have managed about a third of Dracula -- but that's all, folks. This will likely turn out to be my lightest reading month of not only this year, but the two previous I've tracked as well. (Well, 2008 was spotty, but I've got a file, so I'll count it.) Checking May 2009, I see I managed nine novels, but most of them were YA and two were really kids' books. That still beats the three I might finish up with this May.
But then there are the other days. Great feeling days, when the order to write gets checked off early, and those days are some of the best. After sitting in front of the monitor or a notebook, tapping or scribbling out a scene and getting to the stopping point (for me, an "ahhhh" moment), the rest of my day feels like a success no matter what happens.
Life happens. May happens. And while I can't say I've done as much writing this month as I'd like, I've done a fair bit, certainly more than I managed last month, indeed any month so far this year. It reminds me of college, when I'd get a ridiculous amount accomplished when my work and extra-curricular schedules were at their heaviest. There are tons of writers who work full time jobs in addition to raising families and putting out a couple of books a year. There's something to be said, surely, for a packed schedule and productivity. I'm just guessing, but I'd venture to say more great novels were penned on a cluttered desk after hours than by someone sitting on a beach, the wide ocean offering fathoms of inspiration.
So I guess I'll take May. I'll take the frenzy and work. I'll listen to oral reports and supervise the preparation of (unleaded) Jell-O shots (Utahns eat more Jell-O per capita than any other state's citizenry; bet you didn't know that). I'll furl hot dogs into crescent dough for potluck; race out for Scout socks and butter and just one more hot glue stick. I'll even take Mother's Day crammed in there, a lovely slow brunch robbing me of precious hours I could've spent painting personalized field day T-shirts. I'll take it, sure, though I wish I were reading. Am glad I am writing.
But if I run into either Anna Jarvis or Woodrow Wilson in the afterlife, they'll be in for an earful. I'd share my scathing speech with you, but it's May, and I'm out of time. I have to go. I need to get to the store for some more Jell-O.
Photo credit: pengrin's Flickr photostream by Creative Commons License