I bumped into a friend this morning who said her husband surprised her yesterday with breakfast in bed, the Belgian waffle topped with a dollop of fresh whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles adorning the crown. “Where did you get this?” she demanded. “Did you go to a restaurant? Did you leave the children alone?” She harassed him until her husband admitted he’d cut a deal with the new neighbor, who also happened to be a chef.
I was happy to report that I, too, had breakfasted in bed, my half-full bowl of Rice Krispies arriving on a corroded cookie sheet. The delight of my three children delivering the tray, and the efforts of my husband in assisting them, tickled me. And I hadn’t left them much to work with. Our fridge and cupboards were nearly bare since we had just returned from New York.
The highlight of that journey came when I was sandwiched between our two daughters in a bathroom stall at the American Museum of Natural History and heard the woman next to us exclaim, “I cannot believe I just did that!” When we extricated ourselves from our water closet, we saw her whisking her iPhone back and forth under a hand dryer.
I also enjoyed our arrival, when we finally emerged from the Lincoln Tunnel onto the rain-spattered streets of Manhattan, and our 6-year-old son declared, “Thank god we made it out of Kansas!”
“You mean New Jersey, Griffin,” his twin sister retorted.
The trip home proved slightly less joyful. “I don’t want to be in the car anymore,” Jane, 2, keened. We stopped at a Dunkin’ Donuts off Route 38 to use a bathroom with an empty soap dispenser, which didn’t bode well for my OCD or for the employees instructed by a sign to “wash hands before returning to work.” After so much family togetherness the previous day, I cannot explain why—although desperate for groceries—we chose to pass the balance of Mother’s Day morning traveling to the supermarket together as a pack.
Despite the fact that it was Mother’s Day, the store teemed with women, one of whom patiently explained to me how to sniff a cantaloupe but knock on a watermelon to check for ripeness. I did see one father trundling a cart out of the store, shouting at his three children, his son clutching the ribbon to a Mylar balloon that read, “You’re The Best!” My own husband and I determined we’d all benefit if he sat in the café with our kids, while I looped through the store amassing peanut butter, bread, bananas and the rest of the items on our list.
A 12-pack of Horizon vanilla milks cracked open when I tried to heave it into our cart, littering the floor with little cartons.
“Are you ok?” a solicitous clerk asked. “Can I get you another one?”
“I was going to open it at home anyway,” I said. “I just opened it here, instead.”
He laughed at my joke—the best Mother’s Day gift I could’ve asked for. I was starting to enjoy myself. I even took a furtive pleasure in watching another mom chase her toddler, who seized an apple and took a bite before she could grab him.
In the soup aisle, I spied a couple, the woman heavily pregnant, exchanging words.
“Didn’t you invite her over?”
“I thought about it, but it just sounded so exhausting at the time,” the woman said. She gave me a wink. “Don’t we get a pass once in a while?”
“You definitely get a pass,” I said.
My own husband and children discovered me in the checkout line with “Star,” catching up on Jennifer Aniston’s wedding woes due to the “Fight To End All Fights.” Our kids “helped” unload the groceries, toppling yogurts and bottles of seltzer water on the floor. I made a mental note to look up the spelling of “geyser” at home.
“Arrrrrg,” Jeff said, hefting $250.15-worth of goods into the minivan.
“What, daddy?” Jane asked.
“It’s just quite the scene at the Wynnewood Giant.”
But our older daughter buoyed our spirits on the return ride with excerpts from “Doodlepedia”—which she’d dunned her grandparents for in the museum shop the previous afternoon—a hybrid book which allows her to “doodle and discover a world of fascinating facts” like the one she shared with us: “Women were often considered bad luck on pirate ships so they had to dress up as men to be allowed to climb aboard.”
That evening, we celebrated women's progress and the conclusion of another Mother's Day with a cake our kids had picked out earlier at the store. Produced by some overworked and grammatically challenged bakery artist, it read, “Your Awesome Mom.” And I gladly took the sentiment, if not the spelling, to heart.