Longstanding readers may remember that last May, I committed a cardinal sin.
I booked Littleboy 1's birthday party for American Mother's Day.
I had no idea that Mother's Day was this sacred day in the U.S. Not just a day to give Mothers a card, or maybe a bunch of flowers, but a day to be set aside as extremely special, on which nothing else can take place, especially something that doesn't involve the immediate family. It was as if I'd suggested a wife swap party or going out clubbing on Christmas morning - the horror in people's voices as they replied that no, they couldn't possibly come.
This year I cannily booked the party for next weekend instead, but I still found myself completely amazed by US Mother's Day. All week, people have been asking me what was I doing for Mother's Day - to which I had to politely shrug my shoulders and mumble that I wasn't sure. The truth is, we had no special plans - if I was going to celebrate Mother's Day at all it would probably be the British one. It was nice when the Littleboys gave me their cards from school ("I love you, Mom"), but I was quite happy with that, thank you very much. They'd already been ordered to bring money to buy presents at a 'Mother's and Father's Day fair' (Littleboy 1 chose surprisingly wisely; a plant for me and a torch for The Doctor).
As the day grew closer everyone was wishing everyone a Happy Mother's Day. Even the schoolbus driver said it on Friday as I and the other 'Moms' collected our kids at the bus stop. Meanwhile, a group of us were trying to organize a group photo to be taken for an event we're involved with; a time needed to be found at the weekend, but then one person pointed out via email that 'Sunday is Mother's Day' so of course should be completely ruled out.
My European friend, who has been here for five years and is therefore more ingrained into US calendar dates, thought it might be nice to do something for Mother's Day - perhaps go out for lunch. But when she phoned a local restaurant, it was completely booked out. We decided instead to go for a picnic, so this morning I set off to the supermarket and the bakery to get some supplies.
I kid you not, the supermarket was like Christmas Eve at Waitrose. The trolleys had run out; people were queuing to get inside. The clientele was almost totally made up of Dads, buying special Mother's Day lunches and bunches of flowers, and a few kids. The few other women there looked harried and pissed off.
Undaunted I carried on. I went to our favourite French bakery; it does the most delicious croissants and rolls. They were sold out - at 10am, which is unheard of. (I learned later from our picnic companions that they were sold out at 9am). Everyone was also in there buying huge cakes for guess what? Mother's Day.
I eventually tracked down croissants at the third bakery I visited (luckily we are blessed with a lot of bakeries in town). Phew! As I drove home, every single ad on the radio seemed to be Mother's Day related.
The picnic went very well - it was a glorious day and we walked on the beach after lunch, the boys dipping their toes into the still icy water. As we got back into the car, Littleboy 1 gave me a handful of shells he'd collected. "For Mother's Day," he said, beaming angelically.
I'm still resisting, but next year you might find the lure of Mother's Day is too much. I will be expecting a large cake, thank you very much, will have booked the brunch weeks in advance and will send out my children for croissants at dawn.