The best Mother’s Day Gift: Mother’s Day

We sat in the rickety, patina-ed patio chairs of the ordinarily hipster-packed Brooklyn restaurant, delighted for the first al fresco dinner of the season. There were a few other mothers there too, mostly with grown children, and I could feel their eyes on us. There was that sweet longing. That melancholy recognition of their own early Mother’s Days. You could imagine the inner dialogue, the how did my kids get to be 16/19/31 so fast?
This year, I was too tired to please everyone else. Mothers, stepmothers, mothers-in-law. This year, I decided to be selfish. I just wanted dinner with my children.

Sage sat up straight, proud to have put her napkin on her lap. Thalia lead her in a very quiet rendition of the Itsy Bitsy Spider. I toasted to the man who impregnated me (good new kindergarten vocabulary word) and to Thalia for making me a mother, and to Sage for making us the family that we are.

Sage chair-hopped from her chair to Nate’s to mine. Thalia helped Sage count the four days left until her birthday. Sage refused to eat. Thalia devoured a wad of blue cheese and an entire bowl of pasta, and deigned to try an artichoke. I tried to entice her to eat asparagus by telling her how cool it would be to smell her pee afterward, but was promptly scolded for inappropriate dinner conversation–this from the guy who has taught them to start every knock knock joke with “fart.”

We tried fruitlessly to keep the girls in their seats as we crept toward the 90 minute mark. The patio crowd didn’t seem to disapprove, and so our pleas for them to settle down were mostly for show, as they twirled and named the flowers in the garden and put on general displays of little girl cuteness that they won’t be able to get away with much longer.

They scraped at the “wet cream” of the top of the salted caramel custard, and nothing we could say to get them to sample the miracle of caloric perfection below that white layer. Sage wondered why there was no big cake that said HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY LIZ with a candle on it. Isn’t that the symbol of all things celebratory?

I ran through the card in my head, the one in which Nate had written the kinds of things that keep you going when you think you just don’t have it in you anymore.

I felt my new necklaces in my fingers, the dainty black heart that Sage had chosen “because I love you” and the dainty gold star that Thalia had chosen “because a star is something amazing and you are amazing and I love you.”

“They couldn’t choose between them,” Nate said, “and so we got both.”

Earlier in the day, a delivery man in our building lobby whispered to Nate, These are the best years of your life. I think it might be true.


26 thoughts on “The best Mother’s Day Gift: Mother’s Day”

  1. I got chills when I read, “These are the best years of you life.” So true, and yet so easy to miss when you're in the thick of demands and neediness and littleness. Thanks for this post, and all of your posts that remind me of how special being a mom really is.

  2. I do believe that, as these memories fade, the edges becoming softer, we'll look back and forgive ourselves our fatigue. We'll understand that it is one of the piercingly ironic cruelties of life, but we'll know the blessing we've been given.

    Happy days, mama.

  3. They go so fast and I fear that no matter how often someone tells me they are the best, I am too busy in the present to just soak it in.

    Sounds like an amazing day and makes me want to just hug and squeeze my kiddos a little extra tonight.

  4. I think of Mother's Day so very differently now that I am a mother. It reminds me for the 40 millionth time that I made the little people sitting at the table with me. I contributed actual people to this world. It's nice to have a day where others celebrate what a great mom you are. But I like it because it offers a moment for me to celebrate the awesome little family I created. (With a little help from my husband of course.)

    It sounds like your dinner was delightful. Happy Mother's Day, Liz.

  5. Such a great post!! Will I miss stepping on legos one day? Or the seemingly thousands of things I want to urge upon them every time we're in public? (but trim down to maybe fifty or less so I don't squash their humanity like a grape) I think perhaps I will.

  6. Sounds like such a lovely day.

    In some ways I think I fear that these are the best years of my life. The days, and weeks, and now even years are going by so fast. With so many nights of hoping the next day will be better. So often thinking I could have done this day better. I don't want to look back on these years with those thoughts in mind… and yet we do the best we can with the time, energy, and patience we have. Right?

  7. Beautiful post.

    I'm bleary teary eyed reading it.

    The days go far too fast.

    I only feel sad for all the time I wasted thinking clean floors were more imp.

    That? kills me.

  8. I definitely agree with the delivery man! What a precious post! And a Happy (Belated) Mothers' Day to you!

  9. Love it. I, too, tried the pee trick, but my kids didn't fall for it. No immediate gratification, I suppose. Next time try telling them it's a green french fry – a couple of mine fell for that.

    No Mother's Day for me this year: Sunday is a work day in the middle east, so I told my husband to re-schedule for a later date.

  10. What I love about this piece is its simplicity. And the beauty and power of love in its most basic, simple form — a dinner with our family. I love mothers day. Love it more than my bday or anniversary or any other day.

    Not just because my kids totally get into it and express their love for me in so many adorable and touching ways, but because as they're doing so, I see the best of them. I see how happy they can be when they're not bickering. How they don't hesitate to express their feelings. How unexpectedly thoughtful they are. How lucky they feel to be part of the family that my husband and I initiated and which they helped complete.

    It's then, on mothers day, that I feel the peace of knowing, deep down, that I haven't fucked these kids up yet. That despite my impatience and swearing and not always traditional (sometimes questionable) parenting techniques, I am still succeeding at the most important endeavor of my life; that the world is indeed a better place with my two children in it; that though I have enriched their lives, they are enriching me and my life in ways I cannot measure nor could not have imagined before being their mother.

    It is a blessing to be a mother. In a strange way, to me, Mothers Day isn't a celebration of me, it is a celebration of my children — without whom I wouldn't know the miracle of motherhood.
    And without whom I wouldn't have found absolute serenity and perfection in a noisy, joyful sunday night pasta dinner at home, followed by very messy homemade brownies filled with reese's peanut butter cups and smothered in vanilla frosting with the word “Mom” written in pastel-colored candy corn.

    Hands down, best dinner ever. 'Cause it's all about the company.
    As it is in the blogosphere. I do so enjoy having your blogs to keep me company and to make me reflect back on some of the best times of my life.

  11. Is it strange that I cringe a little inside when people whisper those words to me? ” … the best years of your life.”

    It's not that I doubt it. It's not that I don't feel it myself. It's just that the idea I might stop finding superlatives after the kids are grown frightens me a little.

  12. Beautiful image of your family, and your moment. My favorite part (if I had to pick one) was the vision of your girls twirling about.

Comments are closed.