John D. Silva
The arrival of Mother’s Day each year brings about a challenging set of circumstances for the devoted outdoorsman.
Mother’s Day traditionally falls on the second Sunday in May, an otherwise valuable, carefree day of outdoor recreation.
With hungry, all-to-willing trout rising in the streams, actively feeding largemouth & smallmouth bass fattening up for the coming spawn, and striped bass and bluefish making their annual, frenzied run up the coastline, the month of May is a coming-out party of sorts for winter-weary anglers.
But just as we slowly begin to shake out the cobwebs from another long winter’s slumber, WHAM!! Obligation jumps up and whacks us in the back of the head with a two-by-four, stopping us cold in our muddy tracks. This is when beleaguered, outdoor-loving fathers and sons suddenly find themselves in one hell of a dilemma.
The Origin Of Mother's Day
It’s a proven fact that one of the leading causes of fatherhood is mothers, who are singularly blessed as human beings to experience the searing, toe-knuckling, muscle-wrenching wonder of natural child birth.
So we grateful fathers and sons do truly appreciate our dearly beloved mom’s, grandmas, and baby-nurturing spouses. We adore them. We believe they deserve a special day dedicated entirely to them. So we are more than happy to take the time to properly honor and pamper them. But does it have to be on the first clear, sunny, 75-degree day of the fishing season each year?
Apparently, when the national holiday planning commission convened to discuss this, (under direct supervision of large, corporate, greeting card conglomerates, who really run the country) they were guilty of one glaring oversight -- so a mutually convenient, recreational-neutral date such as March 10th wasn’t available?
Yet despite the unfortunate scheduling, many anxious wannabe anglers will be happy to know that there are still a few creative ways that we plucky fathers, sons, and grandsons can get out and enjoy a most rewarding, carefree Mother’s Day on the water, without costing us a peaceful coexistence with those we are closest to. It just takes a little time, patience, and a load of savvy (aka. cahones’ of steel).
The following are just a few examples that may be used by aspiring Mother’s Day anglers to their fullest potential. Proceed at your own risk.
First Time Fathers
Ah, fatherhood. Is there a more rewarding (or equally terrifying) state of mind than that of a first-time father?
For those of you who are new to the fatherhood game, welcome! But seriously, you can stop right here. You ain’t going anywhere Hoss.
You: “Hey honey, would you mind if I…?”
Mommy: “C’mon dumplin’, you have to eat your creamed, brussel-sprout pudding…”
You: “Uh, Sweetie…?”
Mommy: “Agh, the curtains!
You: “Um, Dear…?”
Baby: “Urp… Urp… Aaaacck…”
Mommy: “The carpet! Ugh, don’t eat that Daisy! Yuck. Bad beagle!”
You: “Oh, Sweetie Pie...?”
Mom: “WHAT!!? WHAT IS IT!? WHAT DO YOU WANT!?”
You: “Er… how would you like your eggs?”
As the novelty of your new sleep-depriving, lust-killing, pea-soup-excreting example of your male virility begins to wear off, it’s time to start sharing the birthing pains… long term.
This is not the time for bugging out to go fishing on Mother’s Day, unless you don’t intend on breaking any matrimonial harmony or longevity records. Better to just man-up now and start banking some good old-fashioned trust and good will for late.
In the meantime, get the soothing foot lotion ready, (pssst, she likes it warmed up first).
As any Mother’s Day fishing veteran will tell you, the first few years of fatherhood is when you’ll notice that the second Sunday in May is always, always one of the nicest, clearest, most pleasant bluebird days of the year.
Why? It just is, there’s no explaining it.
But your job right now is to take one for the team. Don’t worry, the rest of your giddy, uncommitted angler friends will be sure to call you from the water’s edge with a real-time catch report. Oh, and don’t forget the dishes.
After several years of Mother’s Day servitude, your kids will inherently begin to grow up (it’s true!).
As a result, they will become more independent, self sufficient, and soon will know everything there is to know about everything.
At this stage, if you have served your time honorably without complaint, your benefit-of-the-doubt factor will have steadily risen. This is good. Soon you may even be able to start thinking about doing a little fishing on Mother's Day… some day… maybe.
The key of course will depend on how well you catered to her maternal needs during those grueling infant and toddler years. Then one day, you’ll be standing there subserviently, foot lotion in hand, when suddenly out of the blue she’ll cold-cock you with: "Well, I really don't mind if you go...” (your mouth hangs open).
Now, as tempted as you might be to snatch up the rods and bolt for the door, take a moment to think. See, she doesn't really mean it, and she doesn’t even know it yet, (until you skip out that door). Yes, it may seem contradictory, but don’t fall into this precarious subterfuge. It is just the next positive step in a long, carefully orchestrated process.
Look at it this way, at least now you’re on the clock. Consider it the culmination of all your dedication and sacrifice these many years. But don’t toss out the soothing foot lotion just yet.
You Just Can't Help Yourself
If you just can’t wait that long, or your instinct for long term happiness and self preservation are lacking, then you’ll need to get creative.
One thing you might try is to teach the always-eager 6-year-old how to prepare a quick and easy breakfast in bed. Truth be told however, this approach tends to backfire… badly… and without fail, (“Alright, WHO poured waffle batter in the toaster!?!”).
Another idea is to offer to bring the kids with you fishing. If done skillfully, it has a somewhat better chance of succeeding. The key is to make a big show about sacrificing your day for her benefit, giving wonderful Mommy some peaceful, quiet time alone to relax.
Be warned however that this approach can also blow up in your face in so many ways, (hey, no one ever said it would be easy).
Another tactic is to suggest a healthy and relaxing way of occupying Mommy’s mind and body while you are out laboring over a particularly challenging stretch of productive water: Mowing the lawn for example. Fresh air, exercise, and the satisfaction of accomplishment all rolled into one.
You may find however, that she doesn’t quite share your enthusiasm for such a thoughtful, mutually-beneficial proposition. But of course, if we really understood the female thought process, we wouldn’t have to read deeply intuitive articles such as this one.
Another angle you might try involves bringing her with you fishing, (Ok-Ok! Calm down! I’m just saying…geez…). But in the end, if any of these suggestions actually do work, you’ll have the whole unoccupied shoreline to yourself. After all, no one is really foolish enough to go fishing on Mother’s Day… right?
Over the Years
When those scampering little screech-demons you’ve brought into this world finally reach their teen years and approach early adulthood, you and the Mrs. will suddenly end up with more time together than you’ll know what to do with, whether each of you wants it or not.
At this stage, it’s not uncommon for the sweet, caring, loving mother of your children to literally plead with you to leave the house. It doesn’t matter if it’s Mother’s Day, anniversary, minor surgery, whatever. But when you finally reach this pivotal peak of long-term fatherly devotion, it will be one of the most satisfying experiences of your lifetime. It’ll be a time when you can bask in all that you have earned over these many years… and at the same time really stick it to the kids! It’s their turn now. So go forth and enjoy your hard-earned time on the water, and don’t forget to leave them the foot lotion.
Now that you’re the envy of all your fraternally-indentured comrades, it still never hurts to have a big, shiny box all wrapped up pretty like—with bows, ribbons, and a card— and plop it right in the middle of the dining room table for her to look at while you’re gone.
After all, you can never be too gracious. And for the rest of you Mother’s Day angling wannabe’s, don’t despair. Father’s Day is just around the corner!
John D. Silva is an award winning outdoor writer and photographer with over 45 years of experience fishing inland and coastal waters in the United States and Canada. An active member in the New England Outdoor Writer’s Association, he has published feature articles, columns and photos in a variety of popular outdoor publications, including On the Water Magazine, N. Carolina Sportsman, Eastern Fly Fishing, Sporting Classics, Coastal Angler, and The Fisherman magazine among others.