Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Perfect Mother's Day

I'd had the perfect Mother's Day planned. Well scratch that, I never have anything really, fully planned. I have wisps of ideas and with luck and work they turn out into something tangible that sometimes doesn't suck.

And so there were some wisps and daydreams about what would constitute the perfect "day off" for me.

Sleep late, but not too late. Wake up and wander downstairs to find freshly made hot coffee and a breakfast pastry of some sort. Like a low fat corn muffin and... and some fresh fruit...yeah, that's the ticket. (Amend dream fragment to include taking thyroid pill an hour before waking up for coffee and muffin) Enjoy muffin and fruit and coffee. (Amend further to include natural morning activities that leave one feeling more...relaxed, and ready to enjoy food)

And important note - all this is done so far in solitude. The family is off in another room, playing video games or doing homework or whatever - just leaving me time to wake up without queries as to my health, or my willingness to do laundry or drive someone somewhere -- NOTHING. Just solitude and maybe some quiet jazz streaming discreetly from the dining room speakers.

And the windows are open, and with no neighbors are awake, the only sounds that the light breeze carries in are bird calls. And during this hour or so of quiet time, I'd read the paper, listen to the news on the radio, and check email. OK maybe just a little Facebook too.

The thing is, I do get these quiet mornings several times a week, time where I don't have to answer to anyone. I don't have to get dressed and go to work and worry about being late. I don't have to take someone to a bus stop or to daycare. Well, I haven't had to get a child off to school in two years, unless you count bringing The Crown Prince to some college classes. And I don't have to worry about getting to work on time - I just have to make sure that I turn the heat on in this room, and that the coffee is made. And I certainly don't have to worry about what I wear to work.

But even though these mornings are not necessarily rare, they still feel precious. And what else would I include this in my perfect, precious fantasy day? Probably a chance to sit outside in the sun, either reading or talking with whomever would want to join me. See, that's what would make this the optimum day - sacred time alone, and then sacred time with the family. And of course the family would be in the most sunshiny of moods, no arguments, no homework questions, and no illness.

Does that mean that the perfect Mother's Day would have no "Mothering" involved? Really, isn't that what the commercial fantasy is? Mom is taken to brunch, to lunch, to the theater - she's shoo'ed away from the kitchen, pointed in the direction of the chaise lounge in the pest-free garden, and she's a goddess for a while.

And that's a great image. And it's not always a fantasy. But to try to make it happen on Mother's Day, is not easy. Not when we planned to have in-laws over in the afternoon - there's the hustle and bustle of bathroom cleaning and straightening up - one can't really call the day their own when one needs to play hostess. And not when there's illness in the family.

Years ago, maybe 10 or 12, one of my boys, I think it was The Crown Prince, had a stomach bug. I have a memory of him running to the bathroom to vomit, and in his urgency, he forgot to lift the toilet top. So, you can imagine the aftermath of cleaning up a projectile mess that was intended to go into a vessel, that instead spewed with force on top of a flat surface and then sprayed out in many directions.

You're absolutely right, it was a disgusting mess. And as I remember, it was the Friday before Mother's Day weekend. I remember saying to myself with bitterness mixed with a little humor - "Happy Mother's Day to me." It wasn't my first bathroom mess and certainly not my last, but the irony of the calendar did not escape me.

And that irony was again present during this weekend.

My Tom, AKA The Young Prince, the boy with the sickness, the boy with the liver disease, the boy who is more fragile than we realized, and the boy who has surprising stores of strength, of spirit, and of love - caught a stomach bug.

He came home from school on Thursday, exhausted and complained of a mild stomach ache. He managed to eat a bit here and there, and although he stayed home on Friday, he seemed to feel a little better by late morning. He took a walk with his brother and when he came home he was wiped out again. By Friday evening he was vomiting and had diarrhea.

It continued during the evening and on Saturday morning I was calling for the GI folks in Boston. I spoke a few times that day with the on-call doc, and we decided that by Saturday afternoon he was on the mend. Fever was gone, vomiting was gone, he was asking for food. It was encouraging. Then Saturday night he was back to vomiting again, and by Sunday morning he was very miserable and asking to go to the hospital.

We took him to a local ER, and they found he was quite dehydrated. After a couple liters of fluids, he wasn't responding as well as they'd hoped, plus they found blood in his urine. They transferred him to Boston, and he was ultimately admitted for more tests and observation. The next couple of days were a jumble of worries - tests for this, tests for that, everyone had to gown-up before coming in his room, it was not horribly scary, but rather a drawn-out event of recovery tempered with many questions.

He's home now, slowly recovering, and the rest of us are trying to recover too. Some Mother's Day weekend, huh?

Yes...some Mother's Day weekend. I did what other moms - and dads - do all the time, take care of someone without thinking of thanks, without noticing the calendar. You just do it because you love that person so much that to do otherwise is not an option.

But yet my Young Prince surprised me. While we were still in the Lowell emergency room, while Tom was still nauseous and nervous - he turned to me and said..."Mom -- Happy Mother's Day -- I'm sorry I didn't say it earlier."

It really was kind of perfect.