From Chicken Soup for the Working Mom's Soul

Happy Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is traditionally accompanied by plaster handprints and bouquets of paper daffodils. If you’re lucky, you may even be treated to a riveting breakfast in bed.

My plans to sleep in were interrupted by a chorus of clattering dishes from down the hall in my kitchen. Minutes later, a large plate, carried by a small child, appeared at my bedside. A pair of eyes peered over the edge. “Good morning, Mommy. I made you some breakfast.”

I lifted the plate onto my lap and took note of the meal set before me. I had been presented with a slice of black toast, freckled banana, green-tinted boiled egg (leftover from Easter) and a cup of what appeared to be sawdust in water but smelled like herbal tea.

Putting on my best “mother of the year” face, I smiled and thanked my daughter. She stood and stared at me for a moment, then commanded, “Eat it.” I stared back at her, hoping she didn’t actually expect me to consume the early morning concoction. What I hoped was that she would leave the room so that I could hide the plate under the bed. Besides, I was saving room for brunch at the restaurant downtown.

A face complete with blinking lashes, a perfect grin, and rosy cheeks beamed up at me. I swallowed hard, trying to ignore her innocence. She handed me a paper napkin illustrated with two stick people, one tall and one small. Although they had no fingers, they appeared to be holding hands, and beneath their L-shaped feet were the words “Mommy and Me.” That did it. A huge wave of guilt swept over me, and I prepared my taste buds for the inevitable.

When I bit into the toast, which had been slathered with butter-flavored vegetable shortening, it burst into a dozen pieces and landed around me on the bed. Loud crunches were emitted as I chewed, alerting the dog (aka garbage disposal in a fur coat) to rush to my bedside in hopes of retrieving a floor-bound treat. The boiled egg was equally crunchy—those bits of shell are hard to spot so early in the morning. And I hoped that Easter dye was to blame for the egg’s suspicious green hue. I felt a bit of sympathy for the poor banana. It was impossible to peel, and its tropical brown flesh had to be squeezed directly from the organic wrapper into my mouth. It quivered at the back of my throat, daring me to swallow it. I then had no choice but to wash it all down with my cup of specially brewed tea. Bits of wayward chamomile, once constrained by a teabag, swam the perimeter of the cup. I lifted it to my lips, but did not drink. From the corner of my eye, I could see that I was still being watched. It was evident that my observer was enjoying the meal far more than I. I downed the tea in three quick gulps, which resulted in a full body shiver and goose bumps on my forearms.

“Was it good?” she asked. I opened my mouth to speak, but no words came out. So I simply nodded and faked a smile. The cup and plate were yanked from my hands, and as quickly as she had appeared, she was gone.

I leaned back into my pillows and sighed, trying hard to retain the breakfast that could have easily been passed off as someone’s poorly graded science experiment.

Seconds later, my budding chef returned. She climbed onto the bed next to me and held out a construction paper creation. “It’s a book,” she informed me. It was bound by bits of yellow yarn, strung through a series of punched holes, and the cover contained a lovely tissue paper flower.

I opened it and carefully admired all ten pages, each of which contained a drawing and captions, such as: “Thank you for making cookies on your day off.” “You’re the bestest mom ever.” “I’m glad you take care of me.” It became clear to me that someone in this house had actually been noticing all my hard work. Gee, I really was appreciated after all.

I thought back to previous Mother’s Days and to all the presents that had been bestowed upon me, including rolls of Life Savers, bubble bath, bouquets of dandelions, half a bag of chocolate chips, an old hair ribbon, and a variety of homemade items. I was reminded that the sweetest and most precious gifts in a mother’s life are not just those that are handed up to her by small hands, but those that are handed down to her from Heaven.

Ann Morrow

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