Walking around my house these days is like a minefield. A Minefield of Love. Everywhere I turn, J is working on another project for Mother’s Day. She is diligent. She is creative. She is prolific.
Sadly, many of these creations will not make the cut. She will labor over a glorious and beautiful message that is two-thirds entirely accurate and one-third invented spelling, and then she will deem it Unacceptable and throw it into the garbage.
That’s not fair.
Doesn’t she understand that the unacceptable, the misspelled, the overly goofy and ardent, are my very favorite kind of gifts? But I won’t get those. I will get something lovely. I will add it to the display.Â But what makes the days leading up to Mother’s Day frustrating is that around every corner, J is working on a Special Secret Something, and I’m not allowed to enter the room. Which is adorable the first time and the second time. But eventually, I’d like to walk freely around the house.
Or something is left out. Like this:
You know that this had to be driving me crazy if I’m willing to expose the grubbiness of my stairway to the world. This is a Very Special Item that I’m not permitted to view. Actually, it’s better if I don’t even notice it. This is torture. I am trying to respect J’s desire to keep gifts a secret, but it is very difficult to ignore adorable messages of love from your children. This folded piece of paper spent about two and a half days on the stairs. J kept not moving it, and then when I’d ask her to move it, she’d say that she would later, or she’d freak out that I had noticed it. Ummm. . . it has been sitting there for days, making it difficult not to notice. Actually, it was making me crazy.
There are items like this on the table and on the counter and mixed in with the school papers and I absolutely must not look at any of them. Half of them are things that J’s forgotten about, but I’m not supposed to look at them, because that’s forbidden, and I can’t ask if they should be recycled, because that would imply that they are worthless. It is difficult to tidy any surface around J these days, because she flies into a panic that something will be revealed.
Trying to make good use of all of this loving energy, I offer suggestions, each quickly rejected.
“You know,” I begin, with what I hope is a subtle, musing expression, “A lovely gift to me would be if you spent some extra time tidying up your room or the playroom.” No. J practically rolls her eyes. She could do that any day. It’s not Mother’s Day special. Theoretically, one could spend any day doing such a thing. Okay, she doesn’t say anything about “theoretically,” but it’s clear that that’s Not Special Enough.
“Why don’t you make something for Grandma or Nana Honey?” IÂ ask when I see art supplies all over the table. M looks up from her book, yawns, and looks back down. JÂ rejects the idea. She has More Important Work T o Do. Secret Work. She can’t tell me anything more about this.
“A wonderful Mother’s Day idea is to just not drop your belongings all over the house,” I grouse. “It would be so delightful not to have to nag anyone to do anything.” M, standing on top of one of her little sister’s discarded sweaters, folds her arms and says, “You know, it’s not Mother’s Day yet.”