Hey, y’all. Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers out there. With all of my focus on releasing my newest book, I haven’t posted a new story in a while. Mother’s Day seemed like the perfect reason to write one.
Another Perfect Mother’s Day
The morning was grey, and it cast the room in gloomy shade that crept in through the slit between the curtains. She didn’t let it dampen her spirits. She listened to the whispers in the hallway and pretended to still be asleep.
“You see if she’s awake, yet.”
“Nuh, uh. You check.”
“No way. Not me. Someone else can wake her. I’m going to watch TV n wait til she comes out.”
“But what if she never comes out?”
“She’ll come out, dummy. There’s no bathroom in there.”
The conversation faded as they moved into the living room. She lay there a while longer wondering what the rascals had planned for her. Eventually, she had to crawl from bed when, as her eldest had so politely informed her baby, her bladder won out, and she needed the bathroom. She forced herself out of bed and slid her feet into her slippers. She stretched as she made her way to the bathroom.
“I heard her come out.”
“She’s in the bathroom.”
“Should we get it now?”
“Polly, you get everyone’s presents and put them all neat like on the table in front of Momma’s seat. Christian, you get the cereal, and Josie, you make the toast. I’ll get her a cup of coffee. Then we’ll all be back here when she sits down.”
Her hair was disheveled, and her pajamas were crumpled and showing their age. But, the smile on her face was genuine. She examined the lines that had recently appeared on her face. Just a handful of light lines. Nothing she’d even call a wrinkle, yet. She’d earned every single one of those little lines plus the spattering of gray hairs that she’d noticed the other day.
Here it was, another Mother’s Day with her four wonderful kids. Lawrence was thirteen already, and Josie ten. Christian was so big at seven years old. And her little baby, Polly, was four now. Right now, while she smiled at herself in the mirror, blessed by all her fortunes, those four beautiful babies were in the kitchen making her a Mother’s Day breakfast.
Smile still on her face, she headed to the living room and took her usual spot on the couch. Polly hopped up beside her, a smile stretched from ear to ear effectively cutting her eyes to slits.
“You’re a happy girl. Aren’t you?” she asked as she scooped her daughter up into her lap.
Polly nodded, and the already large smile appeared to double in size. Her baby was positively glowing. One by one, her other children joined them. Christian carried a bowl of his favorite cereal, something sweet with marshmallows. He handed it to her with a giant grin of his own. The milk sloshed around. It was more like breakfast soup. She thanked him with a smile.
Josie brought her a plate of toast. It was covered in unmelted, cold butter pieces and globs of grape jelly. Josie’s grin was larger than her brother’s but not quite as big as her sister’s face-splitting smile. Lawrence brought her a cup of coffee, made perfectly.
He’d learned how she liked her coffee and made her a near-perfect cup every Mother’s Day since kindergarten when his class had made mugs with their own mugs on them for Mother’s Day gifts. He lifted the corner of his mouth in what passed for a smile these days. She assumed he was just too cool to smile now that he was a teenager.
After she’d finished most of her breakfast, she set the dishes aside. The kids began arguing over whose gift she should open first. While they debated, she gathered up her dishes and took them to the kitchen.
“Now we upset her.”
“I didn’t upset her, you upset her.”
“We all upset her.”
“Ssh. Quiet. She’s coming back.”
When she returned, they’d all plastered the most innocent of smiles on their faces. The gifts had been returned to the coffee table.
“Sorry, Momma,” Josie said.
“What we meant to say was, ‘Happy Mother’s Day, Momma,’ and give you your presents,” Lawrence said apologetically.
“Happy Momma’s Day,” Polly added.
“You can open your presents in any order you want,” Christian offered.
“Thank you, guys,” she said. “But, what I’d really like more than my presents, right now, is a big old hug from everybody. What do you say?”
She spread her arms wide, and her kids came and snuggled into her embrace in one big family hug. She held them tightly for a few minutes. Nobody bickered. Nobody pushed or shoved or bit or hit. Everyone just held onto each other and let her have her fill.
When she released them, she clapped her hands and rubbed them together. “Did I hear somebody say something about presents?”
They led her back to her seat and settled into their own. Everyone watched her eagerly as she was left to select her first gift. She wiggled her fingers to and fro over the presents as if they emitted some magic that would tell her which gift should be her first. Eyebrows shot up in excitement as she’d almost settle on one only to draw back and begin her finger-wiggling spectacle again.
She chose a package that was wrapped in pink tissue paper and tied up with a lot of red ribbons. It looked more like an overly fancy valentine than a Mother’s Day gift. Inside she found a clay box. The sides were uneven and the top was smooshed down in places. It had been painted black.
“Thank you, Christian. It’s absolutely perfect.”
“It’s for your jewelry,” he told her.
“It is. And I’m going to keep my watch and rings in it. My everyday jewelry.”
This pleased him, and he sat back with a smile on his face. She began the magic finger spectacle again. She came to rest on a green envelope. It was a lovely shade of spring green that was perfect for Mother’s Day. Inside was a handmade card. On the front, Lawrence had drawn a beautiful collage of colorful flowers. Inside he’d written, “I wanted to buy you a bouquet of flowers but thought you’d like this more. For Mother’s Day, I’m giving you a dozen babysitting coupons to be used only for you time and not for shopping or appointments.” A dozen coupons each with a silly drawing of a person actually sitting on a baby were also in the envelope.
“You can put a tiny mark on the backs of these coupons when I use them,” she informed him. “But I won’t be handing them over. They’re the most twisted and funny thing you’ve drawn. I love your sense of humor. Thank you, Lawrence.”
Both corners of his mouth came up together. She wiggled her fingers over the two remaining gifts. Whenever her fingers wiggled over the flatter of the two, Polly began wiggling on the seat beside her, so she chose that one next.
“What have we here?” she asked as she carefully opened the handmade envelope and slid the paper out.
Two handprints made of swirling colors of paint adorned the top half of the paper. Below them was a short poem, “I know you wipe some away, but these prints are made to stay, so keep them forever, a treasure they will be. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Love,” Polly had signed her name at the bottom.
“Are these your handprints?” she asked Polly.
“Did you paint them yourself?”
“And did you pick the colors?”
“They’re pretty like you.”
“They’re pretty like you, too. I love it. Thank you, my little Polly.”
Polly’s glowing grin returned. The last gift was in a box. It was delicately wrapped with polka dot paper. A pale yellow ribbon was tied around it. Its loose ends hung in curls. She carefully removed the ribbon and the paper. The box she revealed was plain white and unremarkable. She removed the top and revealed cotton batting. When she lifted the batting she found a silver locket on a light chain. Inside the locket were two pictures. One was of her girls, and the other was of her boys. Her eyes welled up with tears as she clasped it around her neck.
“How did you manage this?” she asked Josie.
“Grammy took me shopping, and it only cost me ten bucks! Gramps took the pictures, and Lawrence helped me print them out and cut them to the right size. Do you like it?” she asked eagerly.
“I love it,” she answered honestly. “I love all of my gifts. I love all of you. Come here and give me another hug.”
She held her arms out again, and her children all came in for more love. They settled, all five of them, onto the couch with the mother in the middle and her children leaning against her with her arms wrapped around them all holding them tightly to her.
Love Sick: Stories is out now
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