Sunday, May 11, 2014

Breakfast for Mom: Fulfilling the Unwritten Mother-Child Contract

It is 6:15 am on Sunday, May 11.  Mother's Day 2014 is upon us.  The house is quiet.  Only Shadow, our pet schnauzer-poodle is awake with me.  I am thinking about Mother's Days past, when my children were in grammar school.  The times I would awaken  earlier than the children but was obligated to stay in bed and pretend I was asleep.  There would be happy noise, excitement streaming from the kitchen as my children and husband worked to prepare breakfast for me.  For meeee! 

Sausage airily sizzling with occasional interrupting Pops.  Wooden spoon tap-bapping against the side of a glass bowl as a small hand stirs the pancake batter. Brass spatula scraping scrambled eggs from our old black cast-iron skillet:  clank-pfft, clank-pfft.  Bright, G-pitched  pinging of silverware dropping against a ceramic plate. Shuuup - bread placed in the toaster plunges downward to the awaiting toasting coils.  Blam-blam footsteps that seem to shake and vibrate the entire neighborhood like a timpani.  Beautiful, chaotic cadence, a symphony of  love, a symphony of anticipation, but also a symphony of hope and anxiety.  The children hope Mom will approve of their efforts and accept their offering.  They hope Mom will like it.

I feel the pressure.  It is my job to appear grateful enough, impressed enough to bolster the budding self-esteems.  This has got to be the most wonderful breakfast in the world, and I, not them, have got to make it so.  No matter what sort of breakfast I have idealized, I've got to help them feel like the actual breakfast is exactly what I wanted.  They have to know that they did a good job taking care of me this morning.  This helps them grow into serving, happy, well-adjust persons.  It's my job as a Mom to be impressed.  Thankfully, I don't have to act too much.  This will be the most wonderful breakfast in the world.  Because they made it.  For me.  My opinion matters more than anyone else's in the world.  And so the breakfast cannot be anything less than more wonderful than any other.

The clanking and clattering goes on for a while.  When it becomes quiet, it is my cue to relax down in the covers and close my eyes.  Soon I hear child-soft voices outside my door.  The door bursts open and then it's HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!  Dad carries the tray of hot food - a token of love as well as expectations - and places it on the bed next to me.  I open my eyes.  "Oh, wow!" I say.  OH WOW.  The children have made cards for me, or small gifts assembled at school.  They are decorated with some sort of flower.  The cards say you're a good cook, thank you for taking me places, I like playing games with you, I appreciate you, you're there for me, I love you Mom.  You're the hero today.  Tears fill my eyes as I read those cards.

"Tell me about the breakfast you have made!"  I am saying.  Who was it that cooked the sausage so perfectly? And who picked the flower? And who thought of placing the nice dab of jam on the plate?  And who guessed that I wanted strawberries today?  All four children have contributed something.  I praise their talent, their creativity, their thoughtfulness.  Just as they hoped their offering would be accepted, I hope that I have responded well enough, sincerely enough.