Photo: I will keep these precious little boot pots forever and ever. And the roses will probably get hung above my desk next to the sprigs of lavender that I got last year. That paper… I don’t know where it is. Probably in the recycling already.
I desperately wanted to skip today’s Mother’s Tea at school, dreading it all week and wishing I had a good excuse not to be there. Crowded, with children running everywhere in the little school not well spaced for such gatherings, I find the event overwhelming and absolutely no fun at all. My boys have been babbling about it all week, focused on one singular and yet all-important aspect of the morning: “At the Mother’s Tea, there will be treats! Lots of treats!”
So, when they emerged from their classroom with two roses in their little hands, I gasped with delight and graciously accepted. I opened my arms for big hugs but got, instead, the start of the gimmies:
“Can we have a cupcake?”
“I want some cookies!”
“Do you have our treats?”
“Can we go over there?”
Doing my best to gracefully step around woman after woman, it was difficult to do things like hold a conversation or exchange pleasantries while my children made their demands. When I finally got them to their seats with plates piled high with various confections, I actually stood up and walked away from them to have a conversation with another mom. They didn’t notice. The Mother’s Tea is about the treats and they’d gotten what they came for.
I watched some of the other moms snuggle up with their kids at the little tables and take selfies. I’m sure there are a bunch on Facebook and Instagram with pithy lines about how great it was. Others brought their giant Nikons in padded cases, breaking them out to get candid shots in stunning pixelation, perfect for scrapbooks and prints for relatives. I left my purse and phone in the car. I told myself I wanted to be “present” and “in the moment” but, honestly, I simply wasn’t invested. I wanted to do my duty and get out.
After what felt like hours of high-octave, chaotic play, we were sent upstairs to be “serenaded” by the children. Lined up by height and whatnot, the children wiggled on their little spots, brimming over with anxious energy. Between smiles in my general direction, my boys did everything from jump in place, spin around in circles and even turn their back on the audience. They sang “I’m A Little Tea Pot” with gusto, but the other four songs didn’t seem to hold their interest. I’ll give my boys credit: they gave the lip-sync thing a good run.
It’s at events like this when I remember that I’m odd and introverted. I hate stuff like that so much–the chaos, the demands, the tightness of the crowd. I’m also reminded that Motherhood has changed a lot about who I am, but some things just will not change. Furthermore, I’m just not good at “playing” Mom–it’s hard for me to put on the clothes, pin up the hair, be social, fit in and pretend that everything my boys do is precious. I smiled and gave my hugs and kisses on the cheek like every other woman there, but a few who know me well kept asking if I was ok. I know I wore my discomfort all over my face. I wanted to turn to my boys and offer to take them for ice cream and time in the park. Anything but this, I wanted to tell them. For Mother’s Day, I’ll take just about anything but this.
But the Mother’s Tea isn’t really about Mama. Matter of fact, I’m fairly sure that Mother’s Day isn’t going to be about me for a few more years. They’ll get it eventually… but not now.
It’s the “get it” part that fills my Quiet Thoughts this week. I told the hostess of this little affair that I was going to get myself some Starbucks because I’m “that Mom” who does that sort of thing. “I don’t have a special ancient teacup,” I told her. “I just don’t roll like that.”
I wonder what my boys will think of me when they figure out what kind of woman I am. I wonder if they’ll ever understand me: who I am, what I love and why. Maybe they won’t. Maybe they shouldn’t. I wonder if they’ll think more or less of me the more that they know about me. Will they, as grown men, sit at a table and speak about me with a little bit of disappointment, even disdain in their voices? Maybe they will question the methodology or the execution of one decision or another. Maybe one will wonder out loud why I didn’t enjoy this more. “Why did she always have to be too cool and standoffish about everything?”
Maybe someday, I’ll wonder that too.
I hope that they’ll come to the conclusion that I did my best. Maybe they’ll forgive me, if only for the most basic reason that I’m human like everyone else they know. Maybe they will forgive me for some things, but not others. That’s probably right. Hopefully, they’ll learn how to manage me. A bit of peace, preferably some warmth, a soft place to lounge, a challenging (but interesting!) book to read…these are precious gifts to me. Time spent with them, low-key and out in the world, is also just fine.
Maybe I’ll change again between now and then. Maybe I can learn to love it all. Maybe they’ll teach me.
It is the first Friday of May and the heat is still on in our little farmhouse. How can that be? I hope Spring sets in soon! I suppose that means that this Friday comes with a few more wishes of warmth and comfort. Perhaps a few last fires in the chimney, a few last indulgences of soup or hot chocolate. On this Friday, I wish you the first good whisper of the wind blowing through the new green leaves. I wish you bright, cheerful flowers in the warm sunlight. I wish you time and space to accomplish something this weekend, something that you’ve been meaning to do, something that will bring a smile of satisfaction to your face. I wish you the opportunity to do something kind for someone else this weekend, something to make someone else smile, even if you don’t get to see it. Most of all, I wish you that chance to feel a little bit of your mother’s love, even if you aren’t with her this weekend. A picture, a letter, the sound of her voice, a cherished recipe, a memento on a shelf…I hope you feel her presence this weekend, as her love is ever-reaching and never ending. Don’t forget to share your love with some of the other people in your life this weekend as well. After you get off the phone with Mom, is there someone else you can say hello to? Remember, Dear Reader: what you put out into the world comes back to you in unexpected and wonderful ways.
Until Monday, stay warm, be kind and take care.