Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What I Did on Mothers' Day

“Mom,” Barbara said to me on Saturday, “Did you expect a Sunday brunch?”

Mother’s day is a standing joke in our family. We don’t celebrate it. On Sunday I was balancing high on an aluminum ladder leaning against the wall of Barbara’s house, reaching out far to the right, to line up blue masking tape with a window frame. Barbara was perched on top of another ladder, hanging on to the other end of the tape. We secured the tape to the top of the window, gingerly stepped down one rung of the ladder, unraveled a thin plastic sheet attached to the tape, and fastened the horizontal edge of the plastic to the window frame. One more step down, more tape. Then to the bottom of the window, where we taped the plastic to the window sill. I ran my thumb along the edge of the sill to check for air leaks. One more window done. We were getting Barbara’s house ready to be spray painted. The scruffy yellow walls will soon turn a sophisticated dusky rose.

“Actually,” Barbara said, “This is what most mothers’ days are like: the mothers work their tails off, while the rest of the family is off doing their thing.” And the boys in our family? Were they scrambling up ladders too? Nope. They spent a leisurely day fishing on the Clackamas River.

I get my Mothers’ Day attitude directly from my mother. She thought it was inane. Another commercial holiday. I absorbed her attitude and have resisted any attempt to modify my position. And Barbara is continuing the No-Mothers’-Day tradition in her own family.

“For Mothers’ day I only want hugs and kisses,” she told her nine-year-old son.
“I know,” he answered in a bored you-don’t-need-to-tell-me-that voice.
However, in school on Monday he told anybody who wanted to listen a different story.
“For Mothers’ Day I caught my Mom dinner,” he said.
“And what was that?” teachers and kids asked.
“A 20-pound Chinook,” he answered nonchalantly.

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