Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Redemption

Published May 10, 2009
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

Happy Mother’s Day! To mothers everywhere, I wish for you breakfast in bed, handmade gifts made of macaroni and string, and a day off from doing the dishes. If that day off means those dishes are just piling up for you to wash tomorrow, I wish you easy meals made of ingredients that don’t cement themselves to your plates. More than all of those things, I wish for mothers everywhere the little priceless moments of kid repentance that make a year of naughty behavior worth every painful minute.

The moms in my readership know exactly what I’m talking about. All year long, children exist in a precarious balance between precious angels who are a credit to their mothers’ names and hellions who try the very limits of their mothers’ patience and forgiveness. One day, they’re bringing you a pretty flower they picked on their way home from school. Another day, they’re cutting their own hair to the scalp and ruining your family pictures.

Mother’s Day, with its finger painted pictures and overcooked eggs and toast, is the annual day of redemption for children all over the country. It’s the day the little boogers officially tip the balance in their favor, their sweet smiles and proffered gifts erasing sins their mothers thought they’d never forget.

I’m ready for my yearly dose of amnesia. I find mine in the annual tradition of the children’s Mother’s Day song at church. No matter what my kids have put me through in the 12 months leading up to the big day, the loudly sung strains of a song like, “Mother, I love you,” or, “Mother, Tell Me the Story,” are all I need to smile and pronounce my kids the best ever.

This year, there are a few things I’m extremely ready to forget. For instance, there was the day I was laid up a week after knee surgery when my youngest daughter thought it would be a good idea to take her four year old brother to school with her. You don’t know the meaning of helpless until you know your preschool aged child is sitting in a school office where he doesn’t belong and you can’t even walk from one room in your house to another.

Then there was the time they turned the doorway to the cat’s bed toward the wall and trapped him there for what might have been hours. It would be one thing if they’d done it to the cat who never stops talking. He would have meowed his way out in a matter of minutes. No, they trapped the cat who seems to have lost his meow amid the chaos of a family of seven, and he was left to stare dejectedly out of the mesh until I noticed him.

Add to that all the times they forgot to put the movies away, forgot to feed the turtle, and forgot to do their chores, and you have a passel of kids in desperate need of some Mother’s Day absolution. Just this morning, I noticed my 9 year old walking around the house with a scarf around her head to hide the fact that the front section of her hair had been shaved off completely. She innocently described the incident as an overnight mystery, saying someone must have come in while she was sleeping and done it. I sent her to school with a wide headband to hide the damage and a prayer it doesn’t fall off.

She’s going to have to sing a solo to erase that sin, but fortunately for her, she has a good voice.