All I really wanted for Mommy Day was a necklace made of plastic beads and macaroni, something I could wear with an evening gown to feel a little Overboard, a la Goldie Hawn. This want felt like it had grown up from Mother’s Days past, where all I really wanted was a gold charm bracelet, or bangles and baubles, or anything really from one of the many “Gifts to Celebrate Mom on Mother’s Day” magazine or web lists. Every year I feel disappointed that Phil didn’t write a card, didn’t have the kids make cards, did nothing more than make brunch reservations. I didn’t want to feel disappointment this year, so I told the kids that it was Mother’s Day Weekend, that they could cram in as much mom love as possible, in song and otherwise. Especially, I stressed, when said mom love could involve homemade waffles… with mini chocolate chips. Throwing in the detail of the chips makes them full-speed-ahead kids, ready with cheers and the insistence that they make me breakfast in bed, knowing that the chips will fall where they may (into their wee bellies). I printed out the recipe come Friday night. But when Phil and I returned from picking the kids up from gymnastics Friday night, he went into bed to rest, as I began to measure waffle ingredients. “I’ve made the batter,” I tell him, leaving the bowl on the counter with the remaining instructions and waffle iron. The batter sits on the counter overnight, with the yeast left to rise and double. Come morning, eggs and baking soda are added, then blueberries or chips.
Making batter for your own surprise breakfast in bed is like picking out the engagement ring before he proposes. It made me sad that I had to be involved to get what it was that I really wanted. If I really wanted the macaroni necklaces, it wasn’t enough to hint at it four times. No. I’d have to set the kids up at a table with string and beads and a box of noodles, otherwise, forget it. And that sucks. It sucks that I have expectations. It sucks that I want certain things and the only way to get them is to do it myself. Which is like buying your own jewelry. Even when you wear it, you always know you were the one who had a hand in it all, that on some level you forced it, stepped beyond hint into help. It’s just not the same.
I want to say that I appreciated everything just as it was, but I didn’t. There were no framed photos for a wall, no noodle necklaces or home projects with the help of dad. There was a bouquet of dyed flowers from the supermarket, bought not for me, but for the required “bring a flower to school for teacher appreciation week.” Maybe it’s just because of what I’m going through now with the latest health news–though I doubt it–but I felt undervalued. No gifts, no flowers, no cards, no photo or homemade gifts. Waffles of my own making.
If I have expectations that run too high, it’s because I grew up with this, with a father who always bought my mother flowers, special ones from a florist, bought cards and gave presents, engraved or otherwise. My grandfather, too, always celebrated my grandmother on holidays and ordinary days, with gift wrap and planning. They were spoiled. Or so it always seemed. Perhaps these women had to buy their own cards (the thought of this makes me cry), or perhaps they had to buy their own jewelry or put their children in a playroom, supervising sentiment. Maybe these things shouldn’t matter to me, but they do. Because I want to feel cherished by my husband, to know that he planned and schemed and made the effort at extra special that he knows matter most to me.
He made reservations and cooked my waffles. This isn’t the kind of disappointment I’d usually admit. But I’m feeling sorry for myself, despite all my blessings. I feel let down, as if I’m a spoiled brat who never sees the positive in things. Chooses not to focus on the fact that my husband took the time to research a restaurant I’d like for Mother’s day, that he made the reservations weeks in advance at a place with west coast oysters (my favorite) and lobster rolls and Blue Crab Eggs Benedict. I should focus on what I do have, that my family wanted more than anything to snuggle in bed with me. But instead I’ve chosen to feel sorry for myself and to blame and stew over what? In the grand scheme of things what does it even matter? Things don’t, but gestures do. But perhaps even with the gestures I’d then still want more, want things. And if there were things wrapped in gift paper, in velvet boxes, then perhaps I’d complain that there weren’t enough gestures. Maybe what I need to work most on is to be thankful for whatever it is I do have. Though while I try to do this, it’s very hard to look away from what I can’t see. That’ll take some work. I’m just not sure it’s the kind of thing one should be working toward, lowering her expectations. It’s just nothing I can imagine ever convincing my children to do for themselves. “Lower your expectations, so you won’t feel disappointment,” sounds like the shittiest advice ever. It’s advice I’ve heard from life gurus on tapes, but it’s advice I’ve never been able to stand behind… advice I seem to keep stepping in.
Instead, especially in light of my latest health news, I should be thankful that I’m even able to celebrate Mother’s Day, that I am in fact a mother with healthy children. I should be thankful that we can afford such a holiday brunch, that we were all together, safe, able to make toasts and laugh and love on each other. I need to be thankful of these gifts instead of wanting others, wanting things that in the end mean nothing. And that’s something to remember.