East of Elmgrove

Thanks, Mom

A special day for an East Side mom

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I had a great Mother’s Day.

I know: it’s a market-driven, hypedup holiday that happened long ago on a Sunday in May. Much worse, it’s offensive to the millions of women who have made a choice not to have kids. And, even worse than that, there’s nothing more boring than a parent gushing about their children.

But, please, let me indulge.

Just. This. Once.

Mother’s Day is my favorite holiday. I like it better than Valentine’s Day (too forced), Christmas (rampant consumerism), Gaspee Day (too far away in Warwick), and even Halloween (a Poe drizzle). The sun usually bursts through the clouds on Mother’s Day, and we know who has a hand in that. It’s a day to kick back and let your kids dote on you.

I’ve had a dozen Mother’s Days. The early ones were fairly uneventful. I got a fistful of wildflowers and a onesie and then went back to changing diapers. As my two boys got older, I got more sophisticated presents: feathery bookmarks, sculptures
of penguins, cards with their mug shots. Still, after the offerings, I went back to supervisory roles. The little guys were simply too young to, say, plan dinner.

That’s all changed. They’re 11 and 12 now; practically grown men. They can mop the kitchen floor, whip up an omelet, wash their Little League uniforms, and, yes, even plan a Mother’s Day during which everyone hustles but the broad.

My great day started when my son Henry tapped my shoulder at dawn and whispered in my ear, “Happy Mother’s Day.’’ He asked me what I wanted for breakfast. I said, “Coffee and buttered toast.’’ He said, “Dark coffee?’’

I heard dishes clattering in the kitchen, and a few minutes later Henry appeared at my bedside holding a tray, with my black coffee and a special treat: a mise en place bowl filled with orange marmalade. As I ate my toast, he serenaded me with his uke, playing a little ditty he made up as he went along. “Bravo,’’ I said, when he plucked his last string.

Presents followed: white tulips, a book for worriers titled Anxious Gardening, and a poem penned by Henry that I’m not at liberty to divulge in full, but let’s just say the eyes welled with the words “loving heart,’’ “peanut butter sandwich,’’ and “napkin in my lap.’’

Henry and his older brother, Peder, asked me where I wanted to go next and I said the shower. After that, we hopped in the car and drove to Seven Arrows Farm in Attleboro. If a nursery exists in heaven (cross fingers), I hope it looks like Seven Arrows, an oasis of serenity.

Magic is at every turn – the climbing hydrangea hugging the oak, the rows of hosta sprouting like green fountains, the bamboo bending in the breeze. For that alone, it’s worth the trip, only a 15-minute drive from the East Side. I bought pots of Thai and Red Rubin basil for my herb garden.

Back home, I ate a turkey sandwich, carried home from the deli for this special day. I made the mistake of reading the paper. Never read the paper on Mother’s Day. Editors like running anti-mother stories. What can I say?

I read a review of a book written by a woman novelist who hates being a mother. One of her kids is a “tyrant,” the other a “Dracula.” As if that weren’t bad enough, the reviewer was a big whiner too, which was obvious from this sourpuss remark: “What is interesting is that despite the mind-numbing boredom that constitutes 95 percent of child-rearing, we continue to have them.”

Them? No one forces you to have kids. Why is it always the writertypes who are miserable parents? Maybe they need material. Self-sacrifice is part of the package, and what a relief not to think about yourself 24/7. I tossed the review aside and
took a sip of my lemonade.

A friend stopped by and asked the boys if they wanted to play baseball. They said it was Mother’s Day and that they would have to check with the lady of the house. We’re big on baseball in our family, so I said, “Heck yes.” I told them I’d see them after a few homers, and off they went.

Earlier that day, I had made two Mother’s Day requests: clean the bathroom (accomplished promptly) and sweep up the helicopters from the backyard. We have two enormous maple trees that unload millions of annoying seeds every spring. It’s a pain to get rid of them.

I secured a broom and leaf bag and got to work. My husband took pity on me and helped out. When the boys got back from the ballfield, they also pitched in. Later, the boys and their dad went to the grocery store. I knew things were going my way when Henry called to ask if I wanted triple-crème brie.

I had requested a meat-free dinner and that’s what I got: oysters, shrimp and smoked bluefish, with my husband’s secret dip. The homemade clam chowder soothed the soul. Mango sorbet for dessert. I didn’t have to clear the table or rinse the dishes or scrub a pot. Henry wiped down the dining-room table. Peder took out the trash.

“Are you happy, Mom?” Peder said.

“Yep,” I said.

“Did you have a good Mother’s Day?”

“Yep,” I said.

“Good,” he said.

I curled up on the sofa and summoned the boys to the room. “Thanks for being my sons,” I said, sounding all mushy. “Aw Mom,” said Peder. Thumbs-up signs all around.

Elizabeth Rau is an East Side resident who can be reached at erau1@ verizon.net and who blogs at eastofelmgrove.wordpress.com.