Happy Mother’s Day to All the Mothers

I hope that today, whatever kind of mother you are, you take some time to pay homage to it.

Happy Mother’s Day to the stay-at-home moms, the bottle feeding moms, the work-outside-the-home moms, the breastfeeding moms, the crib bedding moms, the co-sleeping moms, the baby wearing moms, the stroller derby moms.

Happy Mother’s Day to gay moms, married moms, stepmoms, birth moms, adoptive moms, single moms, moms of special needs babies, and baby mamas.

Happy Mother’s Day to baby lost moms, to every mom who didn’t even get to meet her baby, to moms who have lost children at any age.

Happy Mother’s Day to moms who have yet to meet their babies, to pregnant moms, to moms who are trying to get pregnant (good luck! Have fun!) and to all the to-be moms out there, whether they are 4 or 40.

If you can, go hug your mom. If you can’t, I hope she is in your heart in a special way today.

If you can, go hug your mother-in-law, your aunts, your kids’ aunts, your nieces’ and nephews’ moms, godmothers, and any grandmother you can get your hands on.

If you’re a mom and you can, go hug your kids.

If nothing else, call a mom today and tell her she’s doing a good job.

Happy Mother’s Day to *all* my peeps. Do something for you today. You deserve it.

Mother’s Day Madness

When did Mother’s Day become “Christmas Day in May for Mothers”?

Not that I would mind getting jewelry or an iPad for Mother’s Day, but it seems as if big, expensive gifts are compulsory these days. My inbox/Twitter feed have been inundated for the past two or three weeks with The Perfect [Quite Pricey] Gift for Mother’s Day!

I’ve been a bit taken aback.

(I’m sure my own mother is quite disappointed to read this, by the way.)

Mother’s Day this year is especially busy. I would like first and foremost to sleep in, but that is probably not going to happen. (Dan is a worse morning person than I am, and I am only a morning person because I’m a mother — and gainfully employed).

I would also gratefully accept a future spa day or an Ergo baby carrier. However, those probably aren’t in the works, either.

In lieu of expensive gifts or a day completely to myself (also not going to happen, probably for YEARS, and I’ve come to terms with that), I told Dan I just wanted cards  and, maybe, flowers would be nice. We have far too much to do Sunday, so low-key gift-giving is acceptable.

But the other thing about Mother’s Day and this sudden explosion of marketing to Mother’s Day is the inadvertent pain marketers, who are focused on the bottom line, are causing lots of people — many of them women, some of them mothers themselves.

Mothers (like myself) of still babies, for example. I am fortunate in that my motherhood became tangible after Flora was born, it is no longer the amorphous motherhood of lost babies/pregnant women, like it was in 2003 and 2004.

Children who have difficult relationships with their mothers. Maybe after years, an adult child has come to terms with the fact that her relationship with her mother is a lost cause. It has got to be difficult to face ad after ad extolling Motherhood with a capital M and warm fuzzies.

Birth mothers of adopted children. Children of mothers who have died. Motherless mothers.

This Hallmark holiday cannot be easy on those mothers and those children. It’s not the rosy picture of kids bringing Mom breakfast in bed. I wish marketers and retailers had the sensitivity to realize that, and just scale way back. I know that’s not going to happen, but some days, I just wish the almighty dollar didn’t trump all.

But it’s this awareness I carry (that many, many people carry) that “Mother’s Day” can be tough that makes the littlest gestures from my husband and my children even more precious than diamonds.

Diamonds I’ll take for Christmas.

To My Mom, On Mom’s Day

My mom doesn’t read my blog.

I don’t know why, really, if she even has a reason. I suspect it’s more about the fact that computers to her are for work, are for getting things done. She turns elsewhere for entertainment, books or television, golf. She would find it silly to sit and read her computer.

And it doesn’t bother me that she doesn’t read my blog. I’m often surprised, still, that my dad reads it (hi, Dad!).

So I don’t really have to spend time here wishing her a Happy Mother’s Day. I sent her flowers yesterday, and she and Dad are coming down for brunch today. So I’ll have the opportunity to say it in person — a fact for which I am infinitely grateful. I know lots of women and moms who aren’t lucky enough to be able to tell their moms, face-to-face, to have a great day, to eat a meal with them. My own mother is faced with a unique situation on this Mother’s Day, a mother who probably doesn’t remember that she is a mother.

I don’t have to tell you, who actually read my blog, anything that is great about my mom. Why I love her. Why she is such a treasure. She’s not going to read this.

But you know what? I think I’m going to anyway.

I’ll try to keep it short.

My mom is always there for me. And she’s there in a totally non-intrusive way. When I was planning our wedding, I said to her, “Do you mind if I have it in Pittsburgh?” I had been living in Pittsburgh for 10 years when I got engaged; most of my extended family lives here, as well as my husband’s family.

She didn’t mind at all. She gave me the names and addresses of a few people from Erie she wanted me to invite, but she was totally flexible.

When we were shopping for wedding dresses, she sat quietly while I tried on any number of gowns. Finally, I said to her, “Hey, what would you think if I had my dress made?” She responded, “You know, all these dresses you’ve tried on are very pretty, but they’re not really you.” So we traipsed off to a dress maker I knew and I got the dress I wanted.

When I was talking about Mother’s Day today, one of my co-workers mentioned that she didn’t want to tell her mother where they were taking her for brunch. “She’ll just change her mind,” she said, clearly exasperated. I am lucky enough to have a mom that’s not like that. She decided she wanted to come down today for brunch, but she pretty much left the planning up to me. I appreciate that.

I know there are things about my life that drive her bonkers, and that worry her. But for the most part: My mom has faith in me. She trusts me. She NEVER, and I mean NEVER, played the “this is what you should do” card with me regarding my kids. She NEVER told me I was doing it (feeding, changing, schooling, anything) wrong.

Not once.

When I lost my son, she grieved almost as hard as Dan and me. And her grief was two-fold: for her grandson, whom she would never meet; and because she couldn’t help me. She couldn’t protect me; she couldn’t kiss it and make it better. That was hard for her. I think she struggled with that almost more than the loss. (I think my dad, the ultimate “fixer upper” in my life, struggled just as much, too.) On the third anniversary of his death, she and my sister gave me an angel bracelet. She has never forgotten him, and she never shies away from mentioning him. I appreciate this about her too. I know she is an exception in the babyloss community.

She’s fun. My mom is the most fun Nonna in the world. She’s goofy, she’s silly, and she’s infinitely patient with her grandchildren. She doesn’t blink when it comes to changing diapers or feeding them, and when she’s done, she’s sweeping them off to her activity for them (children’s museum, zoo, Presque Isle) where she won’t just keep up with them — she’ll lead the way.

Becoming a mom has made me appreciate my mom all the more. When I talk about my frustrations with my girls, she often laughs. “You were perfect children,” she tells me, about us three peas — me, Dr. Bro, Dr. Sis. I don’t she says that because she doesn’t want to give me advice or because she actually thinks we were perfect. I think she tells me that to say: “I believe in you. You’ll figure it out.” Because she wants to see me do it. She knows I can.

That faith, that belief — I think that’s the greatest gift my mom has ever given me.

So thanks, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day. I know you won’t read this (unless Dad tells you to), but I hope you know how you feel. I hope the flowers and the cards and the smooches of your grand-daughters let you know: Your quiet belief in me has been the best thing you’ve ever done for me. I don’t know that I could repay that, unless I can pass it on to my own kids. But at least I can say: Thanks. I love you.

Sensitivity Training

Monkey had made me a Mother’s Day gift at school, but then she mixed it up with a classmate’s gift. It wasn’t until Tuesday that I got hers. It was a picture of her in a frame that she decorated, plus a little paragraph about me that she filled in (kind of like Mad Libs for preschoolers). Here’s Monkey’s:

“My mother’s first name is D. She has black hair and green eyes. She is 40 years old. Her favorite food is broccoli. Her favorite thing to do is work. I love my mommy because she is my mommy.”

She got my name and eye color correct. I like me some broccoli, but my favorite food is anything I don’t have to cook myself. I was a little outraged about my age — a few weeks ago she told me she thought I was 17 years old. I told her my correct age (38), and she said casually, “Well, that’s still old.” Thanks, Monkey.

The “favorite thing” answer simply broke my heart. “Oh, Monkey,” I said, “my favorite thing to do is spend time with you and Bun and daddy. I just have to work.”

“I’m sorry I wrote down the wrong thing,” she said.

“Oh, baby, that’s okay. I just want you to know that I love spending time with you guys more than anything else in the world.”

Yesterday as we were walking out of a Target restroom, another woman was coming in. Since I had one of those huge carts, where the kids sit in the big red seats facing forward — the minivan of shopping carts — I let her by.

As we were going out the door, Monkey said thoughtfully, “I’ve never seen a woman so…” she searched for the word… “puffy.”

Admittedly the woman was overweight. And I don’t think she heard, us as we were already out of the door. But I leaned close to Monkey and said quietly, “We don’t talk about how people look. That’s not very nice.”

Monkey seemed unperturbed. I hope I did the right thing. Would you have said anything?

Meatless Monday: Mother’s Day Brunch

As I mentioned, DearDR and I hosted Mother’s Day Brunch yesterday.

My husband loves brunch, and my husband loves brunch because he loves to make pancakes. He does not cook, otherwise, but he rocks the flapjacks.

Because of the walk on Saturday, I kept the menu pretty simple and straightforward, and no, I did not get to make those muffins. Instead, we had:

Pancakes: plain, blueberry, and banana
Quiche (recipe below)
Bacon and sausage: real meat versions
Fakon and veggie sausages
Fruit salad (courtesy of my MIL)

Coffee, oj, and mimosas were also served.

DearDR did most of the cleaning, meal prep, and clean up afterwards. I think we ran the dishwasher three times yesterday. He was a truly spectacular husband — I mean, above and beyond his usual spectacularness. If that’s a word.

Anyhoo, one of the reasons I picked quiche is because it’s one of those dishes that once you know how to make it, you can do just about anything with it.

Quiche is very simple. Pie crust — I recommend Marie Callender’s frozen crusts; they are vegetarian (i.e. no lard) and very flakey and tasty — eggs, milk, and fillings. I made a goat cheese/mushroom/spinach quiche (Quiche A) and a broccoli/cheddar quiche (B).

Preheat the oven to 350°. Place the pie crusts on a foil-lined cookie sheet.

Spread about 1 tablespoon of butter on the bottom of the crust.

If you are using cheese, use 4 to 8 ounces. I used 1 cup (8 oz.) of cheddar in B and 4 oz. of goat cheese in A. Layer on bottom of quiche crust

For Quiche A, I used one 6 oz. bag of spinach, steamed, drained (squeeze all the water out), and chopped. I used about 1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped mushrooms (cremini and oyster). Layer on top of the cheese.

For Quiche B, I used about a cup of broccoli florets. I probably should have steamed them a little, too — they were a tad too crunchy.

For the egg mixture: Four eggs, 1 cup milk, salt & pepper to taste. Use an electric mixer for a really fluffy result. Pour over the fillings in the crust.

Bake for 45 minutes. If you want a browner top, turn oven up to 450, drizzled melted butter over the top (you can also sprinkle some Parmesan or romano cheese over the top) and bake another 5 minutes. Wah-lah!

Happy Mother’s Day

We kept it pretty low-key today. I wasn’t as sore as I thought I would be after yesterday. We hosted Mother’s Day brunch for my parents and Soul Sista, DearDR’s mom and dad, and Earthmother and her family who came directly from the Race for the Cure. They run in memory of Aunt Beth.

I had a lot of things in mind to write this weekend: thoughts about Gabriel; my birth story with him; a letter to my mother. Letter to my daughters about how wonderful they are and how fun it is to be their mom.

I did not get around to any of them.

Chag at Cynical Dad did a Mother’s Day show on Tuesday, Music for Mothers. See if any of these sum up your relationship with your mom! My request, “Fire on Babylon” by Sinead O’Connor, could not be farther from my relationship with my mother, but I love the song.

And I have to give big ol’ props to my husband who really knows how to throw a good Mother’s Day. He did most of the cooking for brunch (DearDR’s pancakes are unrivaled), and almost all of the clean up. Actually, for all intents and purposes, he did do all the clean up. Plus, two really nice gifts. This is one special day he consistently nails.

And I got to take a nap. I mean, it doesn’t get any better!

And this is freaking hysterical’ my FIL fowarded it to me. Gina is going to be mad.

Wishful Thinking

Monkey, much like the girl in the song from Knocked Up“Daughter” by Loudon Wainwright III — wants every thing she sees.

“I wish I had this baby cat, Mama.”
“I wish I had that book, Mama.”
“I wish I had that dog, Mama.”
“I wish I had that toy, Mama.”
“I wish I had that slide in my yard, Mama.”

This, obviously, is an extension of the materialism that started when she discovered The Littlest Pet Shop pets.

Although I started that chart for her in order for her to learn about earning things, I must admit I have completely forgotten about it over the last… oh, two months (mom of the year, right here). No tracking, no magnets, no money.

I mean to do it, I do. Especially when she goes off wishing for stuff. It isone more thing, one more blessed thing, and I feel that I cannot do onemorething. I feel like Monkey should remind me to do her chart after dinner and before bath time. Every night. I want my 4-year-old to remind me to do something that I started — and mean to continue — with lofty, sincere intentions.

I toy with the idea of just giving her a dollar every week. She is a good girl; she (mostly) does the stuff on the chart: clearing the table, sharing with Bun (when she wants). But I’m not sure just handing over money would be teaching her quite the same thing as earning money for specific things.

I feel maxed out as it is, and I feel awful for feeling maxed out. When things are added to my day-to-day list of things to do, it makes me want to go to sleep. I have a dining room that needs a serious cleaning before Mother’s Day brunch on Sunday; it won’t be done Saturday because I’m a little busy; I have three loads of laundry that need to be folded (Lost night is also Fold Laundry night); I have a husband who needs me to have a healthy meal ready for him when he gets home at 8:30 p.m. — and I want to help him with this; the dirty laundry that lurks in my basement is intimidating (still left over from Cook Forest weekend); and, and, and… bills, daily cleaning, children needing to be loved and fed and washed. And a full-time job. And stuff I want to do for me. And weekends full of family and friend obligations.

Am I doing something wrong? Is this the common state of motherhood when the children are young and the husband works 80 hours a week? Am I just destined to lose my mind?

Meatless Monday: Mother’s Day Muffins from Moosewood

I love these muffins from my Moosewood Restaurant cookbook. They are the only baking I have done in the last few years with any kind of confidence. I hope I have time next Saturday to make them for Mother’s Day brunch. If not, I’m going to have to find another excuse to make them very soon.

Adapted from moosewood restaurant new classics

streusel topping (optional)
1/3 cup unbleached white flour
1 1/2 Tbsp. cold butter, chopped into small pieces
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of salt

wet ingredients
6 Tbsp. butter, room temperature
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups chopped fruit, and/or nuts, and/or chocolate chips*

dry ingredients
2 cups unbleached white all-purpose or pastry flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon or other spice (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°. Prepare a 12-cup muffin tin (oil the cups or use liners).

If you want topping, mix together all the streusel ingredients and blend with a fork until the butter is pea-sized or smaller. Set aside. (RPM note: the streusel is a bit of a pain to put together, but it makes the muffins look store-bought. So pretty!)

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg, then the milk and vanilla; the mixture will look lumpy. With a rubber spatula, fold in the fruit and/or nuts and/or chocolate chips. Set aside.

In a separate large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon (if using) and mix well. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold together with a rubber spatula. Don’t over mix. Spoon about 1/3 cup of the batter into each muffin cup. Sprinkle the top with streusel if using, about 1 tablespoon.

Place muffins in oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until puffed and golden. After 20 minutes, rotate the muffin tin in the oven to ensure even baking.

Remove the muffins from the oven and place the tins on a rack to cool for about 15 minutes. Hot muffins are soft and may fall apart if handled too soon. Serve warm or cool completely and store in a sealed container at room temperature.

* Variations: Use 2 cups of chopped fruit; or 1 cup fruit, 1/2 cup nuts, and 1/2 cup chocolate chips; or 1/2 cup nuts or chocolate chips and 1 1/2 cups fruit. Fruit should be chopped into pieces large enough to be recognizable. RPM note: I know I did strawberry muffins; I also did banana chocolate chip. Both were a huge, huge hit. I don’t remember what else I’ve come up with, but I’ve made this recipe a number of times, always with success judging from my own enjoyment of them & the compliments I’ve received. They keep well overnight, too, so it’s easy enough to do them the night before.