7 Mothering Takes

It’s Friday! And that means Takes.

Feel vaguely bad about complaining about Mother’s Day, but not really. I mean, I never feel really bad about complaining about anything, even when I’m later proved wrong. It’s the General Principle of Mother’s Day just being a bad and difficult thing that I still uphold. On the other hand, the children made me some lovely cards, and Matt went out in some kind of fit and bought all the flowers in a store.

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We’ve often had this discussion. Men like to complain that it’s impossible to know what to buy for women.
‘How on earth,’ he has asked, in genuine earnestness, ‘am I supposed to know what you want?’
‘I want flowers,’ I say clearly, with my actual audible voice, almost like God shouting at Moses on the mountain (or maybe, not like that at all).
He sadly shakes his head. ‘I just don’t know what you want ever.’
‘I want flowers,’ I say even more loudly.

But that’s the way of it. I can’t fathom giving someone a present I wouldn’t ever want myself. This is also why I hate Christmas. Christmas is a tragic time where I volley back and forth in my emotional squash court, letting the curser hover first over the thing I Know the beloved wants, and then over the thing I Want to give him. Those two things are never the same.

The thing about flowers, though, is that they lift the self back away from the edge of unhappiness. I know men (except maybe the ones wearing those rompers) don’t experience the bitterness of a changeable mood–standing in one room looking out over the light flooding the garden in unfiltered contentment, but then turning around, bashing the toe on a turned over kitchen stool, tripping, staggering into another room you thought was in some kind of order, finding instead that it is strewn with paper, pencil shavings, shoes, hair clips, and broken dreams, and experiencing all the sorrows of the world distilling themselves perfectly into a singular knowledge of Everything that’s Wrong.


If, however, you’ve plunked a vat of flowers in that room, as you’re about to cry out like Saul shouting for Samuel, your eye catches the still perfection of the petals and hue, you find you can choke back your sorrowing rage and stoop down to just pick up a pencil, instead of making it into a whole big thing.

That’s why it’s good to have flowers in the house. Even though they die.

Which is itself a helpful reminder. Death is coming. Better get ready.

Or has already arrived in the form of me being badgered into finally getting summer clothes out. I have resisted with all my might. I see no reason why anyone should have anything cooler to wear when bedrooms

(not mine,


everyone else’s) are strewn with every conceivable item of clothing, book, lego, dog toy, shoe, and the little bits of garbage that children insist are necessary for happiness.
‘I’m not getting out any clothes until I can walk through there without killing myself,’ I said, over and over.
The children, in exasperation, started carrying up bins of clothes from the basement and opening them. I discovered their plan, closed all the bins, and made my earlier statement, once more, like God on the mountain shouting at, oh never mind.
They clenched their jaws and narrowed their eyes and began the long Liturgy of Argumentation that Has to precede any cleaning of anything ever. I stacked the bins up to make them too treacherous to open. Some of the children crumpled to the floor in utter dismay.
But the main thing about parenting is that you have to win, every time. So I did. They finally beat a desultory path through the rubble of their rooms and I relented and started opening bins.
Now everyone is mad because the clothes aren’t as awesome as they remembered.

Of course, to do this, I gave up doing all the other things I had planned to do. That’s the problem with the swapping out of clothes for summer and winter. It takes thought and consideration. You can’t just take the bin of clothes and dump it into a drawer that you have just dumped the clothes out of. You have to pick up each item and examine it, making mental calculations of which child is which size and how much more will they grow over the summer and will anyone be able to wear this item ever again, and if not should it be set on fire or carefully treasured and foisted on generations to come? Meanwhile Everyone is hovering trying to give advice, and attempting to rescue items that should have disappeared from the cosmos three seasons ago. This is why I can’t carry on a conversation with any other living human being. Because of all the math and all the advice.


But now that it is started I will have to finish it. All the winter stuff has to be packed up and carried back downstairs. I will do the packing and then sit back, gazing at all my flowers, and encourage the children in their lifting and stacking. I read this week that it’s good for children to do work. Can’t remember where but it was on the internet, so it must have been true.

Meanwhile, you can go read more and better takes. Have a lovely day if that’s the sort of thing you like.

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