Late on Mother’s Day afternoon, my sons squirmed when I asked them if they would like to go to the community garden with me. We share a plot with three other families who call ourselves The Green Thumbs.
My children were sprawled out in the family room. My older son was on the couch reading “To Kill a Mocking Bird” for school, and his younger brother sat in the leather recliner reading “Ender’s Game” for fun. I could see thoughts of alarm bouncing around in their sweet heads as they avoided eye contact with me and pretended to continue reading.
I imagined my older son was thinking to himself, “Oh no. Not the garden!” as he flipped through the remaining chapters of his paperback. He was stalling to find an answer to my question and hoping to devise an excuse not to go.
I assumed his younger brother was saying to himself, “We gave Mother breakfast in bed, what more does she want?” as he began fanning himself with his narrow green bookmark.
Yes, I enjoyed the charred fried egg on a saucer; the sage sausage and spicy tomatoes mixed with – I would never have thought of adding this ingredient — corn Chex cereal; strawberries from the freezer that got too hot when they tried to thaw them in the microwave so they had to put them back in the freezer to cool before serving; the leftover cinnamon baked apples, which I had made (they were delicious); and for dessert – yes, at our house on Mother’s Day, breakfast comes with a dessert – Rice Krispy treats made without marshmallows. The creative, yet appreciated, five-course meal also came with coffee, which bless their hearts, came upstairs cold twice (Did they put that in the freezer, too?) and had to be reheated.
I truly enjoyed the meal, only the way a mother could. But the best part of the experience was staying upstairs in the bedroom and listening to the chatter and laughter as my sons prepared the meal downstairs in the kitchen. They enjoyed digging in the cabinets for pots and pans, raking through the refrigerator and freezer to find possible food to cook, chuckling at their discoveries and discussing the meal plan together. The sounds were delightful.
My sons presented the final course of their meal with a lit birthday candle and sang “Happy Mother’s Day to You” as I made my wish.
With closed eyes I silently asked whatever grants wishes: “Can the three of us go to the garden without any complaints or whining?” Then I blew out the flame on the tiny candle.
Hours later, I began cleaning up the kitchen for my cooks.
“Thanks, Mom,” my older son said, as he and his brother headed with their books to the family room. “We tried to clean up ourselves, but only so much could fit in the dishwasher.”
Once the kitchen was back together in sparkling shape, I stood before my precious sons with my request.
“It’s such a beautiful day. Don’t you want to go with me to the community garden to check on the vegetables? The rows might need raking, or the tomatoes and eggplant might be thirsty.”
Both boys put down their books. They furrowed their brows.
I waited for their answers.
They scratched their heads. They looked at one another.
Surely, they wouldn’t refuse my request on Mother’s Day. I had successfully blown out the fire earlier on the pink candle they had stuck on the crumbly Rice Krispy treat. My wish was supposed to come true.
Like I said, the kids were squirming.
“Can we stop for water ice afterward?” my older son asked with a confident grin.
His younger brother perked up and shook his head yes. Then the two siblings locked eyes across the room. I could hear the silent message soaring back and forth — “good one!” – and hear the slap of an imaginary high five between the two.
Water ice is my weakness. I can always stop for water ice.
So we piled into the car and headed to the garden where I watched them rake and water rows of newly planted beans, squash, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, lettuce and onions on Mother’s Day. I listened to their chatter and laughs again as they explored the garden like they had explored my kitchen earlier in the day finding ways to make it their own.
My Mother’s Day wish had come true – with the added bonus of a stop for water ice. I sent them to the window with money and a request for cherry flavor. They went rogue and ordered ice cream for themselves.
They returned to the car with change and no napkins. I held their cups as they got buckled into their seats.
“Instead of sprinkles for a topping, you should have requested Chex cereal,” I said, looking at the melting treats.
Their response was more laughter and chatter.
Yes, I had a Happy Mother’s Day.