“This really, really sucks,” I thought to myself.
Sunday was Mother’s Day. In traditional fashion that only happens once per year, my dad and I joined forces to make our favorite mothers “do nothing” on this day. The children were under strict order to help by not requiring anything from Hollie or their grandmother.
I had no problem cooking. My dad had no problem cleaning. It was the serving of food – something Hollie normally does for these Sunday dinners at my parents’ house – that killed me.
There are so many kids.
They were literally everywhere when it came time to eat. Like roaches scurrying when the light is turned on, they began squirming into the house from the outside through openings I didn’t even know existed.
“I want a pork chop.”
“Can I have chicken?”
“That’s too much corn.”
Shut up. All of you. Stand in a line, take the plate I give you and be happy with it. And go. Outside. Now.
No, I didn’t say this to them. I intentionally appeared happy to be working the line at a soup kitchen by myself so Hollie or my mom wouldn’t jump up and say, “Here – let me do that.” But beneath the surface, all of these ugly emotions and smart aleck responses were festering.
How do they deal with all of these people?
Too often, I take for granted these simple actions by the mothers in my life. When I arrived at my parents’ house earlier in the day, my mom – despite the day being one for her – was on the deck staining by hand the edges of the deckboards my dad and I had missed the day before. Hollie is usually the one who is last to fill her plate and eat on Sundays because she makes sure all of the children – our three and my parents’ three – get their food first. Then she makes sure all of the adults have tea. Then she gets the baby started on his food. Then one of the older children wants more potatoes. Then the baby throws his cup on the floor, so she has to pick it up. Usually, by the time she starts eating, everyone else is done.
Although I tried to make her and my mother first to eat this Sunday, Hollie still came back inside where I struggled to feed the baby and waited until he was done to begin eating her own dinner. Her food had to have been ice cold by that time. I’d grilled steaks and fried chicken wings for her and pork chops for the kids so those vultures would leave her stuff alone. But the vultures were her first priority. I was her first priority. Everyone and everything other than herself was her first priority.
My mother, meanwhile, continued to referee squabbles, answer questions from the children that never should have been asked and respond to general silliness instead of eating her food. It seemed her role as a mother hadn’t ceased for Mother’s Day.
“How can they be enjoying this?” I wondered, frustrated.
A few hours later, after the cake had been eaten, tables cleared and kitchen cleaned, Hollie thanked me for the day. It was not an obligatory statement, either. I could tell she had actually enjoyed everything.
I realized then a mother’s job never stops, despite everyone’s efforts to give them a break or make them take it easy. That does not mean, however, Mother’s Day is lost. It means they have embraced this role as a mother and have no interest in clocking out.
Even on Mother’s Day.