originally written May 13, 2007 ...
On Mother's Day morning many years from now, if God grants me the time, I'll roll over and wake up to sunshine coming in through gauzy bedroom curtains. I'll wrap a downy soft robe around me, then shuffle into the clean and orderly kitchen to make a pot of strong coffee. I'll sort through a fat, dew-kissed Sunday paper, setting aside a stack of coupons and flyers to savor that evening. I'll leisurely dress for church. My daughters will call with good wishes for my day. Maybe they'll even invite me to brunch where I'll eat with sticky grandchildren on my lap and have a tall, glossy slice of chocolate cake before waving them goodbye in carseats and SUVs of their own.
For now, I languish in the tentative years. As Sunday approaches, a dull ache creeps up my spine into the base of my brain as I an anxiously try to imagine the plans my beautiful, well-meaning daughters have for me this mothers day. Probing questions give their schemes away: "how many scoops do you put into the pot to make coffee?" the 8yr old asked me on Wednesday. "do you think M&Ms would be good on a waffle?" She pondered out loud Friday night. And then, tucking them in last night my youngest asked: "four is not too wittle to cwack an egg, wight mommy?" Note to self: hide eggs in the vegetable crisper.
But no eggs were harmed in the making of this Mother's Day morning. Fate had a different plan: this year, the girls would be sick.
As is our usual Saturday night ritual, they slept in my bed... My second grader began nursing a cold yesterday; by last night her congestion and rhythmic coughing kept me on the couch past 11:00. Finally, i succombed and went in to scoot feet off my pillow and retrieve the top sheet from a crumpled mess at the foot of the bed. After what felt like about 10 minutes of sleep, the little one awakened me with the tell-tale sounds of a stomach virus. Casualties were heavy. Sheets, bathroom rugs, the couch, even the living room floor took a hit. Each of us was splattered in collateral damage. After deftly avoiding another missile, I wiped her little mouth and adjusted the chilled eye mask wrapped around her forehead. With flushed cheeks and red lips she looked up and said, "all bedder now mommy." Something about it made me laugh out loud. I looked around at the mounting pile of soiled stuff. This is what mother's day is all about.
By four AM the house was quiet again. The three of us were toe-to-toe in my king-size bed, nestled in clean sheets and new pjs. The washer rocked with its load, the dryer hummed, foretelling my afternoon of folding. As I drifted off, with one ear open for a rumbling tummy, a chubby hand reached out for my face and rubbed my cheek. I heard the long, slow breath of a truly content child, secure that she was in the arms of a mom who was going to be there should sickness return. And as night creaked into dawn, my soul filled up with pride and Godly thanks in the assurance that I'm a good mom. Her sweet touch was, at that moment, the best mother's day present I'd ever had.
On my fantasy mother's day many years from now, as I retrieve my half-eaten slab of chocolate cake from the fridge and sink into an evening of coupon clipping in a quiet house, I'll wax nostalgic for these early mother's days. I'll smile with memories of restless mornings hearing the bump and crash of little chefs exploring my kitchen. i'll remember the squish of over-glued homemade cards and tissue paper flowers on my serving tray, with a cup of coffee grounds floating in lukewarm water. i'll laugh at the challenge of cleaning the trail of syrup from the kitchen floor to my bedside. And I'll remember this mother's day with it's sour smells, pale-faced children and piles of laundry—and I'll hope my girls will one day have a mother's day as rich as this.