Better Late Than Never

My faith in the public school system, if not in the responsibility and punctuality of my eldest son, has been restored. At the expense of breaking a promise to you, my dearest readers. I sincerely hope you don’t mind.

I was standing in the dining room yesterday morning while young Daryl handed his Dad a piece of paper from the school. A paper that turned out to be a notice from the school cafeteria concerning the degree to which he had gone into debt from surreptitiously purchasing extra bags of chips and cookies with the money we had credited to his account for lunches.

“This says May 1st, Daryl!”

Daryl didn’t seem to understand the significance of his father’s remark.

“Do you know what today is?” …Daryl shook his head… “It’s May 20th!”

“Well, I didn’t get it on May 1st,” Daryl claimed. This, unfortunately, might very well be true. In our eight years of association with the elementary school, we have never found the cafeteria administration to be particularly prompt, nor consistent, in the execution of its money collection duties.  Then again, correspondence from the cafeteria is not the only communique frequently delayed in reaching in our hands.  As we were about to have demonstrated for us.

Shifting his weigh uncomfortably, he glanced up at me and sudden shocked remembrance passed across his face.

“Oh! Mom! I have a gift for you… that I forgot to give you for Mother’s Day.”

“Oh, really?” I asked with a wry smile on my face. “I wondered if the school had really not had you make something for me.”

“I’m sorry,” he said, giving me that sweet, shy grin that melts my heart and then topping it off with a big hug. “Let me go get it.”

He ran down the hall and explained on his way back that his teacher had tried to laminate it but the laminating machine had been out of plastic.

“That’s supposed to be a heart,” he explained, pointing to the space between the fingers and thumbs.

“I can tell,” I said with a smile before he bounded off on some other errand.

Well… better late than never. Better recognized briefly than not at all. Better to be his parent than not.

20140520_074813

Advertisements

What Hal Thinks of Mommy

Only one more post about Mother’s Day, I promise.

This was going to be my first post concerning Mother’s Day, possibly even published on The Day.  I itched to tell the story all weekend but never got around to it.  And then I needed to vent about my stressed-out crummy day.  And then I felt the need to illustrate that I’m not a total crab and can actually notice and appreciate the good stuff around me.  Which then left this one to get written and published last.  Oh, well.

Last Friday was a special day for moms (or some other special someone) to come to the Preschool and have cookies and tea or lemonade with their child.  I took off work early and came by.  Hal was waiting.

As soon as I arrived, he led me to the refreshment table and announced that he wanted tea…mixed with lemonade.  Smiling at the fact that I was serving him instead of what probably was supposed to be vice versa, I mixed his cup and poured me a cup of lemonade.  We each grabbed a cookie and headed to his table.

I sat down and he began to pull items one at a time from the bag.

20140509_153059

I had a nice pen with a scented flower attached to the top.  A portrait of the most beautiful preschooler in the room surrounded by a bright multi-colored pasta decorated heart.  A bookmark.  And a dozen different pictures made out of thumbprints, handprints, and footprints.  Several of them with various versions of the “I grow up fast and these are to remind you of when I was small” poem.  I couldn’t help but think to myself that the teachers really should have maybe not had the kids make quite so many similar art projects.  Then again, Hal was plainly proud of each one.

My favorite, by far – it always is – was the page where he answered questions about me.

20140512_211130

We’ll ignore the fact that I would have had to give birth to his sister at the tender young age of 8, that I can’t remember when I last had a picnic, much less felt relaxed at one, that he’s never actually seen me play hockey (although I did back before Jane was born), that he drew me as a very rudimentary stick figure when he can draw a mean pirate ship complete with cannons and Jolly Rogers on the sails if he’s interested.

We’ll ignore all that and remember that I am special because I like him.  Yes, yes I do.

And Now for the Positives

Ok, so I was pretty whiny and ungrateful in my last post.  I realize that.  But really, I felt a strong need to relate how I felt and to communicate that not all moms feel sunshine and roses on their “special day”.

There were some great positives to the experience, though.  One that surprised me was that a number of unexpected people sent me text messages or gave me a shout-out on Facebook wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day.  It’s almost like my “She’s having a crappy Mother’s Day” vibe stretched all the way to Dallas and even as far as California, to co-workers and former co-workers and people I haven’t seen in some time, to fellow beleaguered moms-of-teenagers and to people who have no children of their own.  It was humbling that those people thought of me that day.

Then there was the older lady at church who recognized my drawn and stressed face.  Who gave me a hug and wished me a Happy Mother’s Day.  Who expressed no surprise that my day was not going well.  You have three kids after all, she said.  She hugged me and encouraged me and spoke in such a loving voice that I just held on for a little while.  Her greeting was not perfunctory.  She was watching and caring.

My kids didn’t really get me anything for Mother’s Day.  Other than the excellent Key Lime Greek yogurt with the cookie crumbles that Jane and her Daddy got for me.  That was very nice.  And while she didn’t fix me breakfast in bed like one of her friends, she was still a step ahead of many of her peers for remembering the day without prompting and wishing me a happy one.

Daryl didn’t get me anything nor make me anything.  (What in the world is wrong with the school system these days?  No baby jar with multi-colored tissue paper glued to it and a votive candle inside?  No macaroni necklace?  No handprint flower?  Nothing?)  But what he did do was notice at one point that I was having a pretty sucky morning and then walk along beside me with his arm around my shoulders, telling me it was ok and he loved me.  This tenderness was dear… even if it did draw attention to the fact that he was tall enough to get his arm comfortably around my shoulders, although not quite on the shoulders.

Then there was dear Hal, who dogged me all morning and into the afternoon to open the package he handed me at church.  I was always too busy and I didn’t want to open it absentmindedly while hurrying off to something else.  So when I called him to me after the recital and asked if I could open it now, his face beamed.  And here’s what it was:

20140512_211229

“That’s the rain falling,” he said, pointing to the blue circles.  And I thought, how appropriate that the rain should be falling in my Mother’s Day picture.

“And see how tall it’s made the flower grow, Mommy?”

Indeed, my dear.  The flower has grown quite tall.  Now if only your Mommy can grow as much.

Mother’s Day… Just More of the Same

I had a crummy Mother’s Day.

Moms aren’t supposed to say that but there it is.  And I wasn’t alone, trust me.  Moms all across America were having crummy Mother’s Days.  I know because I ran into a couple of them.

My husband and daughter rose early to go prepare breakfast at church.  In honor of Mother’s Day, I got to pick the menu but it’s not quite the same as getting served breakfast in bed.  Especially since their early absence meant I got to rustle the boys out of bed and get them ready for church on my own.  That’s about like most Sundays except this time, they had been out very late the night before and wouldn’t get out of bed.  Exasperated, I attempted to employ Mommy Guilt:  “Come on boys!  It’s Mother’s DayCan’t you please do what you are supposed to do without me having to fight you?!”

That met with limited success.  Still, we got out the door earlier than usual – mostly because I dragged myself out of bed earlier than usual.  Sane moms like to sleep in on Mother’s Day.  I am no longer sane.  I had a long list of responsibilities waiting for me at church:  I needed to replenish the papers in the children’s worship notebooks, teach Sunday School, practice bells, and perform in three different bell pieces, oh and check with a number of other people about upcoming events.  Then my daughter called asking me to pick something up at home and also get some milk from the store.  I didn’t get to church on time.

That meant I was rushing around trying to take care of everything.  In the midst of all that, my husband reminded me that the older two kids had a recital at 2:00 in the afternoon.  So much for fixing tacos and watching Dr. Who after church.  More on the recital later.

As I sat at a table, snarfing down my breakfast (which, I must say, included a cup of my favorite yogurt purchased especially for me by my husband and daughter), a friend walked in with her two kids.  Jane looked up and cheerfully wished her a Happy Mother’s Day.  She smiled in that sweet, ironic way that we use when we appreciate something but still aren’t happy.

“Thank you!” she said, turning to glare at her kids. “You are the first person to say that to me today.”  She then went on to rant about her allegedly unappreciative children as they stared sullenly at the table.  It didn’t take a rocket scientist or even another overly taxed mother to recognize that she wasn’t getting a great start to her Mother’s Day.  I tried to calm the nerves and lighten the mood, which didn’t work too well since I wasn’t exactly starting from a happy place myself.

Before long, I was attempting to teach Sunday School, which I had not prepared for, which meant I knew I was not making it particularly exciting for anyone and I had no clue what was coming next since I hadn’t read it ahead of time.  Then I went to practice bells with such a jumble of nerves that I just felt like nothing was clicking.  I didn’t play well and Hal was pouting because I wouldn’t let him go out to play.

I encountered yet another mom a short time later and attempted to wish her a hearty Happy Mother’s Day.  She rolled her eyes at me and indicated that none of her three children had yet said those words to her.  Must be something in the water, I said, telling her about the earlier mom.

“Well,” she clarified, “My oldest did send me a text.  That’s all she could manage.  I ranked high enough for a text message, not a face-to-face or even a phone call.”

“I got tagged in a selfie on Instagram taken in our bathroom this morning,” I said.  Although, to be fair to my daughter, she did remember to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day before I got out of bed too.  Still, the selfie tag was distinctly odd to me.

It was, of course, difficult to settle into the Worship service with so much going on.  I didn’t get to watch my children sing in the children’s choir because I played bells for one of the songs and then stayed trapped behind them for the other.  Turns out that Hal had remained on the pew anyway and neither of his siblings had thought to drag him up front.  He still expected me to give him the gum I had promised him after he sang… even though he didn’t sing.  That resulted in a quiet, prolonged fit next to me.

The boys and I were able to leave the church shortly after 12:30 but Jane and her Daddy had to clean up from breakfast.  We didn’t have much time before the recital so I reheated some leftover pizza that we all ate quickly while my husband baked the cookies we needed to provide for the reception after the recital.

Now, I suppose many people think it is sweet and endearing to have a solo recital on Mother’s Day.  I’m not one of those people.  At least, not anymore.  I get it.  Moms love their kids.  They like to see their kids perform.  But, it’s a lot of work to find clothes sufficiently dressy for them to wear.  And I’ve been attending these recitals for eight years now.  There’s only so much scratching through Twinkle Twinkle Little Star that one woman can handle.  Yes, I love to watch my kids play but a recital isn’t just about them.  It’s also about all those other kids too, who, I’m sorry, in my stressed out state, I really don’t care to listen to.  But I have to sit quietly with a pleasant smile on my face and clap at the appropriate times.

It was just one more obligation in a day full of obligations and responsibilities.  I was tired.  I was stressed.  My time was not my own.  The one day when I should have gotten to set the agenda, I did not get to.  And that was my biggest problem with the day.

Things improved when I got to the reception.  We sat down with some friends we don’t see often and just talked.  The one nice thing about parenting a teenager is getting to talk with the parents of other teenagers and receive confirmation that you are not alone.  That that sweet girl smiling at the nearby table secretly turns into a witch at home just like yours does.

And eventually, we went home.  And after I took care of some church business and some volleyball business and some laundry, I finally got to start my day roughly how I wanted it to go, sometime around 5:00 in the evening.  We fixed tacos together and watched an episode of Dr. Who, while I folded laundry.  And then the boys went to bed reasonably easily and Jane retired to her room and then we watched Grey’s Anatomy while I folded more laundry and drank a glass of Orange Moscato.  And my husband didn’t even get upset when I knocked over his favorite tumbler, shattering it on the floor.

Happy Mother’s Day

As we left the ball fields tonight, we tried to decide where to go eat. The kids (for once) presented a unified front and asked for Chick-Fil-A. I was considering a local place that serves great catfish on Fridays, but was concerned about eating too much.

“It’s your choice,” my husband said. “Wherever you want to go.”

“Not fair!” Daryl called out, “You always let her pick!”

“Yes, see, we’re married. I like to leave the choice to her” was the response from the front seat. In the back, the following argument ensued.

“Well, you never listen to what we want!”

“That’s not true,” his sister butted in. “We just left a baseball game. That’s something you wanted. You said you wanted to play baseball and he listened.”

“But when we pick restaurants, he always tells her that she gets to pick!”

“That’s not true. Sometimes we get to pick. Besides, Sunday is Mother’s Day. She ought to get to pick.”

“So?! She’s going to get tons of presents for that!”

I’m getting tons of presents? I quietly asked my husband. Do I normally get tons of presents? I don’t remember that. He shrugged.

“She’s not going to get tons of presents, Daryl.”

I knew it.

“Yes she is. I’m giving her two presents and something else.”

“Was it expensive?”

“No.”

“Then what’s the big deal?”

“You don’t have to spend a lot of money for it to be valuable…”

That’s true.

“…and she shouldn’t get to pick what we have for dinner.”

“You aren’t being very nice to her. It’s Mother’s Day.”

“Not yet it isn’t. She should get to pick on Sunday. Not today. I want to go to Chick-Fil-A.”

“Yeah, I don’t want to go where Mommy said to go!” adds in Hal as we pull into the parking lot of the location I had quietly chosen during the argument.

“Oh, wait,” I told my husband. “We can’t eat here. Hal said so. I guess we’ll need to go to the catfish place after all.”

“No! We want Chick-Fil-A.”

“Then why don’t you guys quit arguing and open your eyes? We are here.”