Sunday, May 12, 2013

"Not with that attitude, you won't."*

   Mother’s Day is a great holiday. Mothers have a really shitty job…okay that sounds mean, and I don’t want to start off on the wrong foot. They have a really hard job, we’ll say, and even if you’re adopted and your particular mom didn’t carry you around for 9 months and push you out the hard way, she’s busted her butt (if not her vaginal canal or abdominal wall or bladder or all three) trying to feed you and make sure you have semi-decent hygiene and some kind of ability to take care of yourself. Having been a childcare provider for a number of years I can assure you that you were a huge pain in the ass and your mother’s love was the only thing keeping you from dying in the streets and all you ever wanted to do was not eat your dinner and whine like a spoiled brat about every mundane thing you could possibly imagine. Maybe you were an easy child, but when people say their child is “easy” what they mean is “compared to other children, my kid is less suicide-inducing.” They love you, those moms. And they deserve a day (or 100 days) of attention and hugs and presents and trips to Europe.
   I didn’t get to see my mom today, but it should be said that she was and is a great mom.
   And so anyway. 
   My most vivid memory of Mother’s Day was when I was about 15 (one of my most asshole-ish periods). Like she always does, Mom spent the better part of the day preparing a feast for us and for our grandparents. She made all the food and cleaned the house and decorated the table and probably bought her own floral arrangements. We probably whined about sweeping or folding laundry and watched movies in the den while she roasted a lamb or some other ridiculously delicious and difficult meal.
   I remember it was a beautiful day and very sunny and my mom was making a point to fix Arnold Palmers, as she always did when Grandma Millie was coming over, because that was Grandma's favorite. And my mom was always very good to her mom. Moms!
   Grandma and Grandpa arrived for “dinner” around 2 in the afternoon along with my Aunt Mel, who most likely contributed to the eats as well. Everyone was gathered, Grandpa had a beer, and we were all about ready to sit down and eat.
   The tea was finished boiling on the stove and Mom had only to add it to the fresh batch of lemonade. She first dumped a pile of ice into the pitcher and then poured the tea on top. I mean, these Arnie Palmers weren't going to cool themselves. And, in a moment that I still can't quite see without everything going into slo-mo, the pitcher promptly exploded, dousing my mom in scalding tea and shooting shards of the glass pitcher into her leg and all over the room. 
Bloody Arnold Palmer horror.
   Despite the fact that she had a glass shard shoved into one of her perpetually bare feet (a hippie preference I’ve inherited from her) and was gushing jets of blood all over the floor, Mom remained remarkably calm. This was a bit of a miracle as the site or suggestion of blood makes her faint.
   I think she just sort of sat down on the floor in a state of bemused shock. (In retrospect, I think maybe she did faint. Hmmm...)
   Luckily Dad and Aunt Mel, both medical professionals, didn’t seem as completely frozen with ineptitude as the rest of us and managed to figure out that she would need stitches pretty soon and they wrapped her foot in a kitchen towel and drove her to the ER.
   I think they’d been gone for a full 5 minutes before my grandparents and my sisters and I moved at all. We’d all been put to the test and we’d all failed miserably. We were straight useless in a crisis, and apparently incapable of even reacting to the situation. So we stood in a line around the kitchen counter and stared at the pool of blood on the floor. Huh. Blood. 
Blood. Glass. Huh.
   Finally, slowly, while making small talk with our Grandma and Grandpa and keeping some sort of tabs on Penelope, Ouisa and I started cleaning the blood. I guess we decided it would be nice if, on Mother’s Day, my mom didn’t have to clean her own blood off the kitchen floor when she arrived home from the ER. Surprise! Happy Mother’s Day! Your gift is to spend a full day NOT cleaning your blood off the floor! You’re welcome! We even did the soap thing, the way Dad had taught us, so the floor wouldn't be sticky. It seemed doubly important since we'd all know that it was sticky because of blood. And that's just gross.
   They came back from the ER an hour or so later and we sat down to our meal. And I’m sure it was delicious. I think Grandma and I had even managed to make a second batch of Arnie Palmers without incident while they were out. But I learned a valuable lesson that day: don’t put boiling fluids into a glass container filled with ice.**
   Just kidding.
   I didn’t really learn anything.
   But doing something that was actually useful for my mom was a nice feeling. And I wish I could do it more often. But she hasn’t bled on the floor in a while. Kidding! (Not about the blood part...she really hasn't had a bloody accident. But about the doing nice things for her part. Ugh. Too much back-peddling here. Let's move on.)
   It’s important to do the things that help your Momma, is what I think you can take away from this, if you are greedy and feel that you need to take something away from this heart-warming post. My mom always wants me to fold laundry before her dinner parties and I never understood why: the guests don’t see the laundry! But over the years I’ve realized that the laundry is just one of the 47 other things she has to finish before she can go to sleep tonight, so doing it does help, even if no one can tell it’s been done. So I try to do that whenever I’m home. And empty the dishwasher. Take out the garbage. You know, stuff like that. Maybe it’s because now that I’m an adult and maybe ever so slightly less of a jackass, I appreciate the value of having clean clothes and a place to put my newly dirtied dishes. I’m grateful to my mom for having always done it for me.
   Along with a billion other things she's done for me. 
   Say thanks to your Mom and fold her laundry and clean up her blood. It's the least you can do. 
   And flowers are nice, too.
Happy Mother's Day, Maman!
*I'm not sure if my mom invented this quote, but it has long been her response to any statement of negativity. ("I won't get into that college." "Not with that attitude, you won't." "I will never find those shorts!" "Not with that attitude you won't.") I find myself using it all the time nowadays. My mom is the Queen of The Positive Attitude.
**To this day I'm afraid to add ice to anything hot. But I think it's more about a glass container + ice + boiling fluids. I think. But I always shield my face when making iced coffee from hot.

1 comment:

  1. I just spent an evening with my sister Ellie and our dear dear and once more dear friend Cindy. We all helped each other grow from 30 to ----eek!---middle-late age. We talked about our children, because, when it is all said and done, they are our life's sweetest harvest. So, with no more ado, I share one of my favorite blog posts which my darling Lacey wrote in tribute to me for Mother's Day a while back. ENJOY!