Monday, May 13, 2013

A mother's day

The night before Mother's Day, I posted on Facebook that I was "gearing up for my day of sleeping in, receiving adulation and general sloth." I did sleep in, by my definition, though I was awake long before my children stirred. So, as in recent years past, I patiently waited in bed, reading my book and enjoying the coffee my husband brought me. When it came time to go to church and still neither of them had roused, I got up and got dressed. "Aren't you going to wake them up to go with you?" my husband asked. He knew I had given the kids three suggestions of what I'd like for Mother's Day, and Suggestion #1 was that they go to church with me. "No," I said, "it's not a 'gift' if I have to make them go."

On the way to church, alone in the car, I shed a few tears, recalling the days when they couldn't wait to wake me up at the crack of dawn on Mother's Day, eagerly presenting me with handmade cards and gifts and a breakfast tray. One year, Chloe even made a menu for me on which she had listed every thing in the kitchen which she knew how to make and serve. "Well, those days were sweet," I thought. "and they are still thoughtful kids. I know they were up late last night. I'm sure they will have something for me when I get home."

On the way home from church, I stopped off at the Eagle Rock and shared a blessing for Mother Earth with her. I vowed to blast all of my feelings of disappointment out into the atmosphere to be burnt up by the blazing hot sun.

When I got home, however, one child was still asleep and the other was engrossed in a video game. Since it was scorching hot outside, I decided against reminding either of them of Suggestion #2: clean up the side patio. So I picked up my book, and I enjoyed another hour of reading.

Then my husband came in and said, "The hot water heater is still leaking. A LOT. Do you want to go to Home Depot with me to look for a new one?" "Not really." I sighed, "but I will go if you want me to go. " He nodded, and said, "we can get something to eat while we're out."

The four of us piled in the van and headed toward Home Depot. "We could get sushi for dinner," my husband said as we passed by our favorite spot. I recalled Suggestion #3: picnic dinner with takeout from Four Cafe, the local organic restaurant, on my favorite hilltop spot. The water heater situation made that one impossible, I realized, and sushi would be a good treat, too. "Sure," I said.

After debating over tankless versus traditional, we settled on a choice and bought it. I took a picture of it and smirkily posted "my Mother's Day gift" on Facebook. We went out to load it in the back of van, only to discover that it was full of the garage sale leftovers I had forgotten to deliver to GoodWill. Just another Mother's Day surprise. We managed to squeeze the hot water tank between the boxes and brought it home.

"We can let the old tank drain while we go out to eat," David said. "Where will we drain the water?" I asked. We had drained the old tank a few days ago, to assess its condition, and I insisted we put the water to beneficial use, rather than release it into the storm sewer. Water is precious in Southern California, especially in the summer. We had used that water to wash our cars in the driveway. I wanted no part of any hard labor today, however, so I resigned myself to letting the water go.

When we got home, however, David asked "Who wants to take a hot shower before I drain the tank?" Great idea, I thought. It's a beneficial use and both kids would benefit from a scrub-down. Then I remembered that a friend had left a message saying that her son had head lice. "Let me check the kids for lice before we throw them in the shower," I responded. Sure enough, I spotted some tiny bugs on one of the heads. I doused the head in the sticky goo and David helped me comb them out. We sent both kids off to their respective showers, with the bug-free child protesting loudly. "I was going to take my shower before bed!" "We won't have any hot water then," David reminded them.
With the hot water supply dwindling, I loaded up the washing machine with the potentially bug-infested bedding. While the kids showered, one sobbing loudly, I poured myself a glass of wine and I went outside and sat with my cedar tree and told her my troubles. In the fresh air under the shade of her branches, they seemed petty and small. I vowed, once again, to let them go.

We got in the car to go to dinner and David asked again, "Sushi?" My resolution vanished and my heart sank. "That's fine," I said though I'm sure my tone suggested that it was not. Instead, he drove to Suggestion #3, Four Cafe, and my spirits lifted again. How well he knows me. How well he treats me.

I enjoyed a sumptuous salad and peach cobbler, while musing over the unusual events of my Mother's Day: No breakfast in bed, no homemade cards, the hot water heater leak, the head lice, the loads of laundry, the trip to Home Depot, and the sullen silence of my children during dinner. They both had their noses in books, and the only words spoken by either of them were, "I have homework to do. Can we go home now?" Still, I got to eat a fantastic salad and even better cobbler from my favorite local restaurant. I was grateful.

We went home and David got the old hot water heater dislodged and the new one installed. It was the second major home repair of the weekend for my husband, having changed out a faulty capacitor on the aiconditioning unit the day before. We're lucky he has the knowledge and ability to tackle so many home repairs, though it means he didn't have much of a 'weekend off.' Chores completed, we sat down to watch a recorded television show before bed.
"Mom, can you rub my back?" my son asks, standing in the doorway and rubbing his eyes. I started to grouse, and then I looked at him, and I really saw him. I felt the love in his heart, and I melted. "Of course," I say. As I stood in on a narrow bench, so I could reach him in his top bunk bed to rub his back, I thought about how truly blessed I am to have this sweet teenager who still wants me to rub his back and how grateful I am for the the lovely girl in the next room who has assured me, after all, that my gift "is coming."

This was truly was a mother's day, I realized. Being a mother doesn't mean perfect days, receiving adulation or neatly-wrapped gifts. It means a two-way street of unconditional love, even when life is messy, even when tempers flare and even the hot water heater goes out and you discover head lice on "your day."

My gift isn't "coming;" it's something I receive every day, in the form of the heartfelt "I love you!" from my son as he rushes off to school and the "Mom, do you want to read with me?" from my daughter at night. In the eager anticipation of this day, I missed the sheer beauty of the Every Day. Mother's Day isn't something to be celebrated only the second Sunday in May.  I am a mother every day, and I vow to celebrate it whenever I am moved to tears because of something my son or daughter does, says, or simply IS.  Even if it's October or it's a Tuesday or it's blustery cold outside, I hope I remember to say, "thank you for making my mother's day."

1 comment:

  1. This was absolutely lovely, Cheryl. I'll share it, because I think many of us with older kids go through this sense of 'thanklessness' that parenting seems to instill. This was the first year that I'd had no expectations at all of the holiday, and it was the nicest Mother's Day I've probably ever had.


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