Purchased: two bags of baby spinach, a block of smoked gouda, a carton of eggs, a sack of clementines, one bouquet of wild flowers, and a card.
In about 5 hours I’m going to wake up and do what I’ve done every morning that I’ve been home on this date. I’m going to wake up early, clang around some pots and pans in the kitchen, whip up a gorgeous and scrumptious meal, lay it out all fancy on our family’s “You’re the Best” plate, and serve it to a certain someone in bed on a breakfast tray.
It’s my mom‘s birthday today. And this breakfast tradition has made her happy since… forever. And I’ve loved it– all of it, the entire process, every year. Setting my alarm impossibly early so that I’d beat her downstairs. Rummaging through the cupboards to find the right cooking gear, always unintentionally making a huge racket in the process. Finding new ways to fold the napkin all fancy; she likes it when I do that. Figuring out how to make instant coffee taste drinkable. (Still can’t brew a real pot of coffee to save my life). Realizing it takes a whole mess of eggs to make an egg-whites only omelette. Adding splashes of color with a single flower. A sliced and fanned out strawberry.
Birthday Breakfast 2009
I just love the look on her face. ‘Beaming’ is the word that comes to mind. And suddenly she seems more like a young girl. “Sit with me,” she always says, offering food off her plate. (I just realized Papa always makes his way downstairs. “I don’t like to eat in bed,” he says. But maybe he wants to give us our time). Because we just sit there my mom and I, talking and laughing by ourselves, splitting the bites between the two of us. Until finally I say something like, “I better go make Papa something; he must be hungry.” And she’ll just wrinkle her nose at me for a second, as if in childish protest, give my hand a squeeze and say, “Thank you! I love this. I look forward to this every year!”
Every year. Each time it goes down more or less exactly like this. I’m not sure why I felt the need to write about it… except for the fact that this will be the last year that I do this for my mom. The last year that I wake up in the morning in the same house and give her this gift of a home-cooked breakfast, of time. Together.
Our relationship is just so… complicated. I even got into an argument with the futhubs tonight about it as we were wedding planning at his place. I got upset with him for something he said because I felt like he was making an indirect jab at my parents. (He wasn’t at all; I found out later). And I got super defensive and protective of them. But after we talked it out (read: I cried it out), I realized that… I’m crazy. I always vent to the futhubs about how my mom is unreasonable, demanding, and sometimes a little cruel. But if he even says one word that sounds even remotely like it’s against her, I immediately fly into action ready to defend. I throw up a shield with the words: “I know my mom’s crazy, but only I get to say so, dagnabbit!“
Even on this blog whenever I vent about the latest conversation with my mom, in the same paragraph I want to jump to defend her honor. To tell you that she only says what she says and does what she does because she doesn’t know how else to show me that she loves me. She doesn’t know how to be vulnerable when she’s upset. So she fights with me because she feels like I’m going off and getting married and she’s ‘losing me’– her ‘baby.’ Because if she says it outloud, she’ll start crying. And sometimes she does say it outloud. And on rare occasions she’ll even let me see the tears.
And sometimes on her birthday I get to spend a whole morning laughing and talking with her, seeing her as the young, joyful woman she must have once been. And I think, “What a gift!” It’s like I’ve been given a secret: that in my mom’s heart of hearts she’s just a young woman like me. A young woman who loves to laugh. Who hates goodbyes and can’t stand change and loves so much she’ll think her heart will break. It’s like for one morning a year, we somehow understand each other.
And maybe I’m being stupidly sentimental and overly nostalgic (or just plain PMSy and emotional ’cause, not gonna lie, it’s totally about to be that time of the month). Maybe I’m making all this so much more dramatic than it needs to be. But I’m thankful for today. Every year. I’m thankful for my mom. She’s a firecracker and a frigging handful, but I love her to death.
And dagnabbit I’m every bit as crazy as she is sometimes.