Suzanne Perez Tobias

Know what many moms want for Mother’s Day? A little time away from mothering

It’s time to rethink the Mother’s Day brunch madness.

This Sunday, an estimated 90 million Americans will go out to eat a Mother’s Day meal, making it the busiest restaurant day of the year. Many of those diners will be mothers and grandmothers, of course, all dressed up to celebrate their special day.

Here’s what you might not realize: For many moms — particularly mothers of babies, toddlers and young children — Mother’s Day at a chaotic, claustrophobic restaurant isn’t exactly a treat.

Now, I’m not one to turn down a mimosa any day of the year. (My special recipe calls for one eye-dropper of orange juice in a full glass of prosecco.) But I don’t remember a time, back when my kids were little, that I got to relax and truly enjoy a restaurant cocktail on Mother’s Day.

Like it or not, moms usually are the ones who round up the kids, make sure everyone is clean and dressed, find shoes, make sure they’re tied, pack the diaper bag, buckle the car seats, rush back in for the cell phone (because photos!), get to the restaurant and keep kids quiet while you wait on your table.

During the meal, moms comfort crying babies, chase down toddlers, and explain hollandaise sauce to reluctant youngsters. They wipe mouths, brush crumbs, fetch toys, clean spills, smile, nod, make repeated bathroom trips, change diapers, break up fights and apologize to the wait staff.

It can be, in a word, exhausting. And while no mother wants to seem ungrateful for any meal they don’t have to prepare themselves, I doubt I’m the only one who thinks there are better ways to celebrate Mother’s Day than braving that annual crush of humanity on the the second Sunday of May.

So I have a proposal.

Spouses and partners: Ask the mom in your life what she’d really like to do on Mother’s Day.

And moms: Just this once, don’t worry so much about being polite or agreeable or accommodating. Be honest.

Want some extra sleep? Ask hubby or someone else to manage the kids while you luxuriate in bed. (Without that “adorable” breakfast-in-bed custom that too often ends with syrup on the comforter and an extra load of laundry.)

Want restaurant food without the restaurant hassle? Consider carry-out, or enlist a meal delivery service.

Want time to yourself to read a book, watch a movie, take a walk or go shopping? Ask for it, specifically, and then graciously accept it.

It’s ironic, I suppose, but what many moms want most for Mother’s Day is a little time away from mothering. It’s a rare treat, particularly for moms of young children. For some, including chefs, cooks and restaurant staff whose services will be required this weekend, time alone won’t even be an option on Mother’s Day.

If you crave a little solitude and are able to find some, be grateful and enjoy. And remember, come Father’s Day, to return the favor.

Suzanne Perez Tobias is a columnist and member of The Eagle’s editorial board. During her nearly 30 years at the newspaper, she has covered breaking news, education, local government and other topics. An avid reader, Suzanne also oversees The Eagle’s books coverage and coordinates the annual #ReadICT Challenge. She can be reached at 316-268-6567.