I loved this breakfast, for I loved
lying in bed listening to the sounds of the kitchen. First would be
the delicate pitter-pat of my daughter's light steps, then the heavier
thump-bump of my son. This might be followed by the delicate crickety-crack
of a glass breaking on the floor, and the heavier thump-bump of a frying
pan and all its contents being overturned on the floor. Then the shouts
- 'not that way,' 'let me do it,' 'you don't know how,' 'do too.' Cabinets
banged, the refrigerator door was not shut tight. Though I lay in bed
wanting to spring up and attack whatever foodstuffs were on the kitchen
floor, I would force myself to be still. I reminded myself that lying
in bed, moribund and inert, had its usefulness: the children were learning
how to love another person.
Then the children grew up and I
began to hate Mother's Day. This misanthropic attitude developed the
year both of my children, away at college, abandoned Mother's Day in
favor of studying for their own exams.
One of them remembered
and alerted the other late in the day, and two calls came in close together,
apologetic and guilty.
I thought to myself that I could have
hurt feelings and risk entering that dread psychological state known
as Martyred-mom-ism, or I could discover what this day meant after all.
What makes a mother happy? Taking one's mother out for an arbitrary
lunch one day of the year might not be the gateway to heaven. Having
children who love you all year round, even while they forget your existence
in favor of living their own lives, could this be what makes a mother
I made a plan. The following year
I insisted that the children come at brunch 'to take me out.' When they
arrived I had a quiche bubbling in the oven, a salad ready to be tossed.
I placed the flowers they brought in the center of the table and brought
out the presents I had bought for them.
Startled, they both stared at me.
Crazy Mom. Yes, crazy, but happy, for the card manufacturers who gave
us hearts and flowers were wrong. It was my turn to say thank you for
a whole year of children who got impatient with Mom, but loved
her anyway, for children who tried to bridge the generation gap, who remembered to
call every now and then, but often forgot to call because they were
busy, and busy meant they were living fully and completely.
Mothers of the world, unite. Give
your kids a present on Mother's Day.