Mother’s Day, God’s Way

“There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.”
–Willa Cather

I didn’t expect a gift from God for Mother’s Day this year. But on my usual early morning walk, I came upon a crabapple tree in full, fragrant bloom and a cottontail rabbit peacefully grazing beneath it. As the bunny went about its business as God intended, I was transfixed. I remembered how, as a child, seeing a creature in the wild brought a sense of wonder. Cherishing this memory with others of long ago, I went home and changed for church. Entering the sanctuary, a friend pinned a gorgeous corsage on my dress. “I had an extra,” she said. Extra? I never knew why, and it didn’t matter. I had already received two special gifts that day!

At home after lunch, David went outside to play and Christine napped. Gene and I made the most of our two quiet hours. I practiced the piano, then picked up the newspaper and saw an article that seemed written for me.

The writer remembered back to the days when her teenaged daughter was a toddler. She wished again for a wilted bouquet of dandelions offered by chubby hands. She recalled her dreams of early motherhood’s sleep-deprived days: When the kids grow up, I will write poetry, sleep until noon, put white slipcovers on the sofa, she thought. Then she warned, “Be careful what you wish for.”

In the next paragraph she continued, “Such wishes do come true. The kids grow up and leave, and you can have your perfect, empty house. And you’ll be wishing again for one more hot afternoon, one more dandelion bouquet.”

That thought hit me. How often had I wished for more afternoons where I could do what I wanted instead of amusing a bored child or wondering what meal to fix? How often had I dreamed of what the house would look like decorated to my taste, rather than strewn with toys, little shoes, and dirty socks?

This lesson was soon to be needed, for I had planned a special Mother’s Day meal of things I enjoyed: shrimp cocktail and scampi, rice pilaf, green beans with toasted almonds (the kids could pick out the nuts), and herb bread. I was excited about serving a nice dinner on a real tablecloth. I asked Gene to call David, figuring we had just enough time to set the table before everything was ready.

In traipsed our son–covered with mud from head to foot!

“How did you do that?” I finally managed.

He beamed through his muddy mask, “We drove the big wheels into the ravine.”

I exploded with laughter and got out the video cam. (Had I not just read the article, I might have exploded the wrong way!)

By the time David was showered and clothed, the scampi was overdone, green beans rubbery, toasted almonds black, and rice sticky. My carefully prepared meal, ruined!

I began slamming pots and dishes around, ranting, “This is it! I hope you enjoy this meal, because it’s the last one I’m cooking for the next”–I quickly calculated-“ten years!”

When I’d cooled down, Gene pulled out a wrapped package and card. “I guess this would be an appropriate time to give you your present, ” he said.

I opened the card and read, “The kids and I want to say ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ and ‘Thanks!’ Without you we’d be hungry and dirty and wondering why the remote control won’t make the stove or washing machine work.”

Gene’s gift was (naturally) a book-entitled–no lie–Bitchin’ in the Kitchen: A PMS Survival Cookbook. It promised “never to cramp your style again … filled with hilarious advice, easy and delicious recipes … the perfect companion to help get you through the worst of times, the toughest of cravings and the sweetest chocolate moments.”

It’s said that the trick to humor is perfect timing. If that wasn’t perfect timing, I don’t know what is! Why, even Hallmark can’t hold a candle to the way God can make a Mother’s Day the very best.

[Afternote: Re-reading this, I can’t help but dash away a tear. This story was written nine years ago. This Mother’s Day, there is not a moment when both my children will be home together. So we had our Mother’s Day meal–still shrimp scampi, etc.–on Friday. It turned out very well, and David set the table, Christine got the napkins. They actually picked out my gifts themselves, and I think David (who is 16 and just got a job) actually paid for it himself. On Sunday, I may well have the day to myself. I might garden, or nap, or read. But … I do miss the dandeliion bouquet … and even the Big Wheels.]

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