Kids in Brown County

I woke up this morning with a sore throat and a stuffy nose. Lucy was whining and licking my hand, wanting to be let outside. Once there, she snapped at carpenter bees until she wore herself out and cried to come back in.

So began Mothers Day.

I called my beautiful Mom, wished her a Happy Mothers Day. Got weepy at the sound of her fragile voice and wanted to hug her in person. “I’m worried about you,” she said. “I think you’re working too hard. You’re getting sick too often.” Always my Mom, even hundreds of miles away. She’ll share the day with my sister today. They’ll eat quiche and laugh at Jocey’s antics. They will miss me. I will miss them.

My oldest isn’t home today. Prom was last night, and he crashed at a friend’s house when the festivities were over. He’ll be back in time to shower, change his clothes, and head to work where he’ll bag groceries for four hours until it’s time to lose himself in AP Chemistry and AP Calculus homework.

My second oldest is still sleeping. When he emerges from his downstairs cave, he might wish me a Happy Mothers Day before he asks if he can pop popcorn and plop down in front of the TV. Maybe. Maybe not. He’s a crap shoot, that one.

The girl woke up on the wrong side of the bed as teenage girls are wont to do. When she shuffled to the kitchen for breakfast, her father prompted her to wish me a Happy Mothers Day… which she did… begrudgingly. Now she’s in her room, cleaning her perpetually messy space, angry teenage music blasting from her speakers.

The youngest woke up early to help his Dad clean out the pool and feed the neighbor’s dog. He smiled when he wished me a Happy Mothers Day. And he didn’t even need prompting.

One out of four.

My sweet husband brought me a fresh cup of coffee and scrambled eggs with cheese — just the way I like them. He’s working in the yard, opening the pool, spreading mulch, taking care of what needs to be tended. “Work on your book today,” he said. “Do what you love.” He’s a good one, that man. I am so lucky to be his.

I’ve already done two loads of laundry. Dirty clothes don’t stop just because it’s Mothers Day. And we’ve got lacrosse games, soccer games, a school trip to DC this week. Uniforms need to be washed, suitcases packed.

Such is the life of a Mom.

The checking account is precariously low. It’s been a pay period of big expenses — prom, final trip payments, yearbooks, end of school banquets. There will be no brunches or dinners out today. Sometimes, the budget just doesn’t allow for any extras. Kids are expensive.

But I am a Mom, four times over. And there is no price that can be put on that honor and privilege.

What a day like today reminds me is this: Every day is Mothers Day. Every day, I wake up to these four faces and thank my lucky stars that they call me Mom. Every day, I am filled with gratitude that they are healthy, thriving, making their way. Even when they’re sullen and angry and angsty and door-slammy. Even then.

The days of dandelion bouquets and tiny, painted handprints are gone, the notes that read, “You’re the best Mommy in the whole world.” There will be no handmade cards, no construction paper masterpieces. After two moves, I’m not sure we even have crayons in the house anymore. But I remember. Someday, they will, too.

Someday, I’ll hold their babies in my arms and I’ll think, “Yes. This is what it was like.” And perhaps then, my sons or daughter will look and me — gray hairs and wrinkles more prominent than ever before — and think, “Yes. This is what it was like.”

Until then, I’ll continue to revel in the magic of every day — even when the bank account is begging for mercy and the laundry is piled to the ceiling. Even then. Because the days are fleeting and fast, and my babies are all taller than me. Sticky hugs have given way to sarcastic smiles. Bedtime rituals with them gathered around me, listening intently to “Where the Red Fern Grows” have become evenings with each in his or her own space, laboring over homework, watching YouTube videos. Homemade gifts and toothless smiles are packed in Rubbermaid containers with the labels Sam, Gus, Mary Claire, and George.

After dinner tonight, Chris and I will share a glass of wine on the deck while the kids shower and prepare for the upcoming school week. We will continue to make our slow journey back to where we began, back to when it was just the two of us.

And all is as it should be.

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One Response

  1. Thank you for this! I’ve been feeling grumpy that my mother’s day was filled with the usual rush and drive and pick up and drop off and grocery shop and laundry fold and and and and…. While I see visions of perfection and pampered and relaxation on facebook all day long. Your beautiful writing helped me to reset my frame and be so thankful for all the busy that comes with being a mom.

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