Yes, my friends, it's that time of year again, time for the annual Mother's Day Column. It changes every year; as I change as a mother, as my relationship with own mother grows with age, as I watch my friends with their children. This year, however, as I sat at the computer typing out thoughts, I was struggling a bit, and I finally realized why. My kids.
"Ow! Mom!' the girl screamed, "he hit me!"
"I did not!" the boy cried. "I was just swinging my hand and she walked into it!"
"I did not!" the girl cried. "He hit me!"
"Okay," I said, "guys, this is not helping mommy. Mommy needs to write. In order to write, I need a few minutes - please - of no interruptions. Okay? I have a thought, and I have to write it about while I have it. So please, just go outside and let me write. Please."
"Fine," snapped the girl.
"Fine," challenged the boy, "I'm going to play with the pitchback."
"I want to play with the pitchback!" whined the girl.
"YOU CAN BOTH PLAY WITH THE PITCHBACK. TAKE TURNS. GET OUTSIDE NOW OR MOMMY WILL GET A REAL JOB AND PUT YOU IN DAYCARE FOR THE SUMMER!" This is what I say when I really want to get through to them. It often works.
"Okay, okay. We're going," said the boy. "Come on. I'll go first, and then you go."
"No! I want to go first!" said the girl. I was almost in tears.
"Please, kids. Please. I'm begging you. I have to do this, okay? Please."
Out they went. I stared at my computer screen, trying to regrasp the thought that'd had me so consumed five minutes ago, and was thisclose to wrapping my head around it.
"Mom!" called the boy. "Have you seen my mitt? I had it but I must have put it - oh, wait, here it is. Never mind!"
"Okay," I called back. The thought was gone.
There's something wrong with this picture, I decided. I'm trying to write a Mother's Day column and can't because I'm a mother. Irony at its best? Perhaps. But that's the thing about kids - they're very high-maintenance. They demand a lot of attention. For a low-maintenance and self-centered individual such as myself, who really answered to nobody until a few short years ago, this situation can be a little stressful.
"Mom!" called the girl. "Can I wear my pink flipflops, or do I have to wear my red ones?"
(Sigh.) "It doesn't matter, honey. A flipflop is a flipflop. The color doesn't affect its ability to prevent you from stepping on worms."
Back to the thought, which was . . .
"Mom!" called the girl again, from outside this time. "Watch me on the trampoline!"
"Honey, I'll be out in a few minutes, okay? I just have to finish this -"
"Mom!" called the boy. "You should see the play I just made! Watch! I'll do it again! I threw the ball, and it came back like this, and I slid this way and then rolled over and got up on my knee-"
"Mom!" called the girl. "Watch this butt-bounce! It's my highest ever!"
"Mom!" cried the boy. "Come out and play with me! I'm doing great and want you to see me!"
"Mom!" cried the girl. "I almost touched the tree branch, I'm going so high!"
I pushed the keyboard in, sat back, and took a deep breath. The thoughts were gone, probably never to return. I looked outside and saw them, the boy at the pitchback practicing for his career in professional baseball, the girl on the trampoline, happily jumping away and singing to herself. Suddenly I was relaxed, peaceful, and indescribably content, and when I realized why, I smiled. My kids, again.
I would like to wish a happy Mother's Day this year to . . . my children, because once I thought about it, hearing the word "MOM!" from them is the best gift I've ever received.