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Ancient History

No More UFOs from Planet Denny’s

I used to be an inmate on Mother’s Day. It was a pretty cozy sentence to serve, with wifi and old flannel sheets as soft as a hummed lullaby. I stayed in bed because I was expected to stay in bed on Mother’s Day, at least through breakfast. It didn’t matter how long I had been awake, or how my stomach was roaring for food. People downstairs conspired to bring breakfast, homemade cards, and trinkets to me. They took it seriously, like it was a law. A whole day for mom-types has been officially recognized by the people who officially recognize important days. Let’s fete her with bacon. Do not confuse these people with the same people who decided January 13th is National Peach Melba Day.

Some years, I made a break for the bathroom, but I always dutifully returned to bed to wait. I was conscious of busting the illusion: Sleepy mommy taken by total surprise as a tray of happy fried eggs and buttered toast alighted on the bed like a UFO from Planet Denny’s. “What is this?!” I’d say, grinning. Everything was declared delicious and it was. I might have pretended to be asleep but never had to pretend to appreciate the little feast made with the help of little ones.

This year seemed to signal a change. The tone of the day was quieter. I woke to the sound of the front door shutting downstairs. I figured it was my husband ducking out to get food. I listened for others up and about. I heard nothing, for a long time, except rain on the roof. Eventually, there was a bit of stirring. I’m not sure who was up, but they were big enough to start clanging around and flushing toilets. I waited. And waited. And nobody came. I played with my phone and left a Mother’s Day message at Facebook. The front door opened again. The dogs barked, whispers, more clanging, a cupboard opening. Then, I heard feet coming up the stairs, toward our bedroom door. It was my husband with a cup of coffee, a bouquet of lavender tulips, and a card.

“I knew you’d be awake.”

Of course. He also knew where I’d be. He handed a present to me. It was a pair of shoes I found at Amazon and put in the cart, but didn’t purchase. Then, he asked what kind of doughnut I wanted, listing off several of the possibilities. He had gone to our favorite doughnut shop before it opened and there was a line stretching into the parking lot. “Sorry it took so long,” he apologized. I placed my order. Chocolate long john, please. More coffee, please.

It was delivered by Beatrix, along with a pink construction paper wrapped present she made at school. Instead of an invasion of bouncing little kids, I had a steady stream of one or two at a time.

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But where were my older kids? Eventually, I finished my long john and coffee. Crumb-covered, I got out of bed and headed downstairs. They weren’t up yet. I drank more coffee. As each of them stumbled bleary into the kitchen seeking doughnuts, I greeted them and grabbed them for hugs. Most didn’t remember it was Mother’s Day until the younger kids shouted about it.

As my kids grow, they will buck traditions I held dear. I need to let go a bit. I need to remember that my traditions won’t necessarily be theirs. That includes traditions I associate with the special days designated by people who officially designate special days. Those Peach Melba people can fend for themselves. I was fine with my older kids’ lack of enthusiasm for trays of food and an inmate upstairs to visit. That doesn’t translate into a lack of enthusiasm for me, unless I’m clutching a dishtowel and waving it at them while standing at the kitchen sink. I’d actually rather be downstairs with all the action and bustle than a queen on her sleigh bed, worried about egg yolk or Bavarian cream dripping on a coverlet, the horrors.

I need to be cool with change because it’s barreling at me, at us. To fight it would be like fighting the wind, or fighting the aliens who bring fried eggs to mamas on Mother’s Day morning. You can’t win if you aren’t armed with the ability to adapt. Next year, maybe I’ll meet them in the kitchen. Maybe, just maybe, I flip those eggs myself.

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