I am very fortunate to have been a mother on both sides of the Atlantic. I am treated to not one, but two, mother's days. My wonderful children, and Dana's daughter, help me to celebrate on both occasions.
English mother's day is usually celebrated with a 'surprise' lunch. Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, the surprise is usually not a surprise. I am, after all, a mum. Most kids know that mum's really do have eyes in the back of their heads. Of course, the eyes are more metaphoric than literal. I think the metaphor is more in the lines of 'sneaky'. I do believe mum's are less easily deceived by their kids, especially their daughters, as they were daughters themselves!
I used the word 'usually', as last year was the exception to the rule. Sunday morning of English Mother's day arrived, and I was getting ready to receive visitors on the following Tuesday. Vicky and Co., were due to arrive, and we had just had our wardrobes revamped. We had taken everything out of the wardrobes, and once the spare room was full to capacity, I had to find other outlets to store the overflow. With all the dust that was being created by the work, the only place left for the excess, was the lounge, and hall area. Once the wardrobes were completed, (minus the doors, but that is another story), Samantha emptied the spare room of her property, and I had the weekend with which to work. It is amazing how more hanging and drawer space can cause such a dilemma. Although I had designed and planned my space, I was now questioning as to what should go where. Dana had suggested we go to lunch at one of his favourite restaurants and, as he never expresses a preference, I was happy to agree. He then said it would be better to go earlier rather than later, so as to ensure we arrived in time for brunch. I didn't suspect a thing.
After our Sunday morning coffee and scripture reading, as is our norm, we set about our other Sunday morning tasks. Mine was to clear the living area. I am not quite sure why, but it appears that the more cleared an area becomes, the messier it looks. Thus, the more I tidied, the worse it became. I had lived in the condo for nearly six years, and had received perhaps two or three unexpected visitors to my front door, and each one had been on an occasion when I was doing my housework, and my furniture had been pulled out of place, ready for the vacuum cleaner, making the room look rather dishevelled. Have I mentioned my paranoia about housework? Believe me, I am no where near as neurotic as I was, as I don't have the time, and self therapy has delivered me to a place, where I realise the world will not fold if I do not wash my kitchen floor every time someone steps on it. (Me, myself and I are currently working on the next step, which is that once a day will suffice!) This particular day, my neighbour two doors down, had managed to lock herself out of her condo and had left a pan on the stove. She wondered if she could use our telephone, to call the fire brigade. Of course I obliged by getting the phone, and in the thirty seconds it took me to do so, I explained as to why my living area looked like a bombsite. After she had employed the service of the Austin's Fire Department, I continued to make excuses. I offered her a seat whilst waiting for the big red engine to arrive, but she said she declined, so as not to hinder my progress. She further explained that she, too, could not sit still whilst there was a possibility of her house burning down. As the condos are attached, this did nothing to deflect my stress. If her condo caught fire, and it had been very dry........etc., etc., etc.
However, I digress. I was working out my time, backwards. If we needed to be out of the house by one, I would have to have a shower at 12.45, giving me ten minutes to get dressed, and in the car. My brain works in fifteen minute increments. If I have something to do, I work out how long the task will take, and if I do not complete it within the given time, I allow myself another fifteen minutes. It is probably something to do with attempting to be organised. I used to work in thirty minute increments, but I realised that was rather ridiculous. (Like arranging my time in fifteen minute increments is any less absurd - It is such a label to call myself obsessive-compulsive, but thinking about it, perhaps I have a very mild case, and if that is so, I must be getting better, having reduced my time segments by fifteen minutes! The words 'straws', 'at' and 'clutching', come to mind, although not necessarily in that order!)
At 12.45, I ran into the bedroom, turned on the shower, and in fifteen minutes, I was ready to leave, albeit mumbling and grumbling how much I would have to do upon my return. I still had not managed to clear the spare room, which would need to be vacuumed and made ready for three occupants. I did not even suspect a conspiracy when Samantha and Edward asked if they could leave the dog. They usually let us know they are going out, and will be back at sometime to collect the dog. I didn't even suspect anything when Dana asked me, if I would mind watching the dog. Normally, that kind of excessive interaction would have set my sensors on high alert, but as I said, my stress levels were already on 'overheat', due to the time restraint, and the possibility of my condo being razed to the ground!
Hyperventilating, I jumped in the car, almost fainted when we had to park in the underground car park, rather than outside the restaurant, causing us to 'waste' time walking. Usually, I enjoy a walk to and from a restaurant, as I think it is important to 'walk off' the meal. Today this was not imperative. As I entered the restaurant, Isaw Chara. She was standing by the entrance, holding a beautiful bunch of flowers. Still none the wiser, I thought she must be there for someone's birthday. What a coincidence. Dana remarked, 'look, it's Chara'. It was then that I noticed Samantha and Edward, also standing with a bunch of flowers. I was stunned. I could not believe that all this had been set up, without my suspecting anything. I surrendered. Credit where credit is due, I congratulated them all, of course, excusing myself due to the circumstances, but not belabouring the point. We sat outside on the patio and ordered. It was the middle of March and the weather was beautiful. The waitress took our order, and took my flowers to place them in water. After we had eaten she reappeared with the most amazing looking dessert, and we stopped her to ask what it was. She explained that it was their signature dessert, a large chocolate bag, filled with two kinds of chocolate mousse, raspberry coulis and a chocolate straw. She then came behind me, placed it down on the table, and looking very pleased with herself, announced, 'Happy Birthday!'. Once again, in a very short period of time, the unthinkable happened. I was lost for words!! I know; once is a phenomena, but twice in the period of less than an hour, an impossibility! However, it happened, and I pointed to the cards, and flowers, ready to explain, but it was too late. She smiled and squealed, 'Yes!' How could I burst her bubble! We all enjoyed the dessert!
I returned home, full, and satisfied, and the additional calories ingested gave me the renewed burst of energy I needed to complete the task of cleaning the spare room.
This year, Mother's day started off a couple of weeks early. I received an envelope which had no markings and I assumed it was a solicitation, inviting me to attend a conference, on how to make $1 million in less than thirty minutes. Surprisingly enough, I don't attend, but I always open the envelope, mainly due to curiosity. I had not noticed the postmark and it was a card from Richard and Steph. It had made me laugh out loud. It was a retro photo of a woman on the telephone, with the caption, 'The mother's day game of hide and seek ended 12 hours later, when mum called from Texas'. Inside, they had added to the greeting, 'I am hiding in the garden shed!' On Sunday, with one card already on the piano, I waited for the signs. Dana and I had left home early to go and view a house. We have been 'vaguelly' looking to move, and found a nice property which could possibly be of interest. Samantha had telephoned Dana using the excuse that my phone was not receiving calls. I had been, messaging both Richard, and my sister, Elise, so I did not think this was probably, but it was possible. He handed me the phone, and she asked me how to make a bechemel sauce. If I was a comic strip character, the cartoon would depict me with my finger on my chin, my lips slightly pursed, and my eyes squinting. A think bubble would be connected to my head by the smaller 'o's, and the caption would read, 'Hmmmmmm'. Samantha has been making this white sauce from the time she could reach the stove. When I make a lasagne, she will take over the 'sauce making'. However, I giving her the benefit of the doubt, I considered she had a short term memory loss and gave her the recipe.
Dana had suggested a couple of restaurants for lunch, but another phenomenum had occurred; I was not particularly hungry. I certainly was not hungry enough for an 'all you can eat beef fest', and the Italian buffet closed at 2pm. We opted for a cup of coffee with Joe, which Dana concluded would give me enough time to decide where I wanted to eat. I would have been happy to go home and take a nap! However, I didn't want to ruin the plans. While at Joe's, Dana suggested the restaurant that we went to last year, but brunch was over, and the majority of their menu is fish, which I knew Samantha would not enjoy. I said 'no', and he then suggested a restaurant that Samantha and Edward often frequent. I thought it was a wonderful idea. They specialise in family meals, and this would be good for someone who was not particularly hungry. We could all share. I told Dana I would be glad to try the new restaurant. His next mistake was to call Samantha and ask her how to get to the restaurant. He told her we were at Joe's and would be leaving in a few minutes, probably arriving at the restaurant in about twenty minutes. Where did she recommend we park, at that time of day. It was a class act.
We left Joe's on cue, and drove towards the Domain Shopping Village. As we entered, I was infiltrated with a burst of wickedness. 'Are you sure you want to go to Maggiano's?' I asked, then continued, as I saw the look of alarm cross Dana's face. 'I really fancy some fish now that we are here'. Dana doesn't often panic, but it was evident, as he made his next mistake. 'I am really looking forward to trying something new', was his retort. Dana never has a preference when going out to eat. I am so blessed in having a husband who always defers to my choice. (Of course, it can be an irritation when I have no idea where I want to eat, but that is most rare!) I relented, and we parked the car, then walked towards the restaurant. I noticed a couple sitting on the veranda, rather engrossed in their menus. Obviously, they were very short sighted as the menus were held very close to their eyes, covering their faces completely. However, I know my daughter's wardrobe inside out, and the shorts and flipflops was complete confirmation. The host at the desk welcomed us, and asked us where we would like to sit. The response, 'On the patio would be great', caused Dana to have the second panic attack of the day. 'Are you sure', he asked, as I had already started to follow the host towards the door leading outside.
As we exited onto the veranda, I stated, 'We will sit here', and I pulled out a chair at an occupied table. It was now the turn of the host to panic, but it was short lived, as Samantha put down her menu and greeted me with a forced, surprised, 'hello, fancy seeing you here!'
'How could you know!' Dana asked. He went through the morning's activities, including the conversations, and was sure he did not give anything away. When I told Samantha that she had made a mistake in asking for the bechemel sauce recipe, he was as amused as he was relieved. This joy was short lived as I pointed out his downfalls. I assured them that it didn't matter; it was the thought that counted. I told them that they must take into account that I am a mum, and I know everything! It is my job to be suspicious.
I did, however, have a surprise, despite the waiter's insensitivity. He asked Samantha, after he cleared away the entree plates; 'Should I bring out the cake now?' The cake was a surprise. My very talented, clever daughter had made me a teapot. A proper English teapot for a proper English Mother's Day. She presented me with a card from the usual suspects, namely Rick, Samantha, Chara, Steph and Edward.
Of course, we shall have another celebration later in May, but we usually lunch at my favourite Mexican restaurant, and add another t-shirt to my collection. Perhaps the surprise will be that there will not be a surprise, but that would be....another story.