COLUMNS

READY OR NOT: Giving mom a muffin may be pointless

Mary Ready
Mary Ready

I was completely unprepared for motherhood when my first son was born.

As an only child, growing up in a world of adults, I never learned any lullabies, changed a diaper, bathed a baby, prepared a bottle, etc. So, when James was brought to me and laid in my arms, I had no idea what to do with him.

I had to learn fast. Apparently, he wasn’t very happy about being born. Consequently, he was in a snit about the whole thing and howled indignantly for hours on end in the hospital nursery. Since he was disturbing the other babies, he was thrown out and transferred to my room. An exasperated nurse let me know he was my problem from now on.

As he continued to cry without ceasing, I tried to reason with him, presenting all the logical reasons why he shouldn’t be upset. I tried holding him and singing every Elvis and Patsy Cline song I could remember. Finally, a nurse brought me a rocking chair, so I rocked him back and forth while conjugating Latin verbs (amo, amas, amat – I love, you love, he loves). That seemed to do the trick. My three years of Latin class hadn’t been wasted.

Five years later, when my second son arrived, I was better prepared. However, I was sure something was wrong with Damian. He was quiet, often not even crying when he needed changing or feeding. Content to lie in his crib, gurgling happily and watching the mobile as it swirled above him. He enjoyed lullabies and was asleep by the third verse. I was relieved when the pediatrician said no two siblings were alike, and I just had one calm one and one not-so-calm.

As different as they are, both stirred up the same maternal feelings. A parody of the “If you give a mouse a cookie, etc.” series says what all loving mothers share in common:

If you give a mom a muffin,

she’ll want a cup of coffee to go with it.

She’ll pour herself some.

Her three year-old will spill the coffee.

Mom will wipe it up.

Wiping the floor, she will find dirty socks.

She’ll remember she has to do laundry.

When she puts the laundry into the washer,

she’ll trip over shoes and bump into the freezer.

Bumping into the freezer will remind her she has to plan supper.

She will get out a pound of hamburger.

She’ll look for her cookbook (How to Make 101 Things With a Pound of Hamburger).

The cookbook is sitting under a pile of mail.

She will see the phone bill, which is due tomorrow.

She will look for her checkbook.

The checkbook is in her purse,

which is being dumped out by her 2 year old.

Then she’ll smell something funny.

She’ll change the 2 year old.

While she is changing the 2 year old, the phone will ring.

Her 5 year old will answer and hang up.

She’ll remember she was supposed to phone a friend to come over for coffee.

Thinking of coffee will remind her that she was going to have a cup.

She will pour herself some more.

And chances are if she has a cup a coffee, her kids will have fed the dog the muffin that went with it.

The domestic scenario evoked in this piece doesn’t apply to little ones only.

In later years, I would lie awake until 2 a.m. listening for the roar of my older son’s motorcycle in the driveway. I would worry that my younger son was so shy he couldn’t seem to make friends. Worry when they went away to college and both totaled their cars on the highway, but thanking God with every fiber of my being that they were OK. My heart would break along with theirs when a girl they cared about rejected them. I shared their anger when some injustice touched their lives.

Now, they’re adults. I miss the one who lives in Georgia and think of him every day. Is he happy? How are things going with his search for a job? Is he getting enough to eat? Is he ever going to give me a daughter-in-law and a grandchild?

I even worry about the son who lives next door to me. Even though I see him every day, his hurts are my hurts; his joys are my joys. If I could take his diabetes on myself, I would gladly do it. At least he gave me a lovely daughter-in-law and precious granddaughter.

So Happy Mother’s Day to all you ladies who never got to enjoy the muffin along with the cold coffee. Think of all the joys we’ve had instead.

Mary Ready of Destin is a twice-retired English teacher and long-time area resident. Her columns are published on Saturdays.