This is my annual repost for Mother’s Day perfection. Share it widely.
Let’s face it: mamas are the holiday planners in most families. We shop, we bake, we plan, we organize, we record, we everything. The rest of the family bumbles around and sometimes manages to help.
The problem is that when Mother’s Day rolls around, we are not in charge. People who never plan anything are put in charge and judging by the furious credit card swiping that happens on the day after Mother’s Day, it’s not the most successful celebration. That’s OK. I’m here to help.
This is a fool-proof guide to planning the perfect Mother’s Day celebration on any budget. Every dad needs to read and follow it.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO TO CELEBRATE MOTHER’S DAY IS TO PLAN SOMETHING!
THE PLANNING PART IS WHAT MATTERS MORE THAN THE ACTUAL PLAN.
The perfect Mother’s Day should include:
1. A homemade gift from the children
Many schools will plan this project for you, but if they haven’t, pull out the art supplies and tell the kids get to work. Obviously babies aren’t capable, but a clay hand impression or even a card that says “mommy” with a traced hand on it will be cherished. Teenagers can simply write out the reasons they love mom. You could also take a picture of the kids and frame it. The point is that it comes from the kids.
2. A gift for her as a person, not a mom
Flowers, jewelry, spa gift certificates are all wonderful. This can be anything she would like for herself. It should NOT be something for the home or kitchen unless that is her particular interest. If you don’t know what the gift should be, her mom, her sister or her best friend knows. ASK.
3. Family time
A planned activity for the family to enjoy together. This could be a meal you, the kids or a restaurant prepared. It could be an outing to a park or the movies or a game night. Anything, as long as she gets to enjoy everyone being together.
4. Personal time
Give her a few hours to herself. A manicure, a gift card for shopping, an arranged lunch with her friends or simply the space to do what she loves (like reading a book in silence) will be greatly appreciated.
5. Do the grunt work.
If you have babies, you’re changing all the diapers. If the house is a mess, you’re in change of getting it clean (Hint: delegate to children!) You are responsible for all meals. Yes, it’s a pain. You plan a lovely breakfast, and then you have to make dinner too? That’s what everyday is like for mama. Even if you wind up ordering pizza for dinner, that’s alright. The point is for you to take the initiative to keep the house running for one day.
Regarding Other Mothers
1. There are other mothers in your life whom you need to celebrate. If you live near either of your parents, figure out what you are doing for them and when. If your wife wants to cook dinner for her mom, let everyone know (including your wife) that you are in change of brunch for her. Make sure that there is one time in the day that is completely devoted to the mother of your children.
An easy way to make this work is to go out to brunch or serve mama breakfast-in-bed, and then have everyone over for a BBQ dinner you prepare.
2. Whatever you do for other mothers, you need to do greater for the mother of your children. If you give a single rose to all the women in your family who are mothers, your wife gets a dozen. If you give them all a dozen, she gets 2 dozen. The exception to this is your own mother for whom you can get something special, although it should not be greater than your wife’s gift.
That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. If you follow my advice you will make the mother of your children very happy and she will be bragging on Monday. I hope this doesn’t sound condescending. I know a lot men are wonderful and full of their own ideas. I just want all dads to be informed about what mamas really want, so you can make it special for her.
By the way: MOTHER’S DAY IS SUNDAY, MAY 12th.
Reader, I married him!
This is what love is:
Yesterday was exhausting as all Saturdays are.
My day began at 5:30 am when I got up to get ready for the Farmer’s Market. It was preceded by two days of round-the-clock baking and child care. Yesterday was a bit crazier than normal as I had a last minute pie order and literally baked a pumpkin pie from scratch at 6:45 in the morning while getting ready for the market.
I came home exhausted. Jack was overtired, but handling it well. Max was in meltdown mode. An hour of grumpiness followed. All parents can relate to feeling completely wiped out, but unable to catch your breath because clamouring children beg for attention.
Here’s where the love came:
Andres rallied us all, dismissed my excuses and took us downtown to the Miami International Book Fair. There was a panel discussion at 4:30 about epublishing, and since I have an ebook coming out shortly, he knew I should attend. I wanted to go, but the fatigue of the day, the frustration at Max’s behavior and the unknowns of finding parking and navigating the unfamiliar one ways of downtown were excuses keeping me put.
Andres wouldn’t have it.
We schlepped down there, found easy free parking, and had a great time!
The children were entranced by by the stilt-walkers and danced wildly in the streets to the beat of the live band. Andres took them to the Children’s Alley where they had a blast winning Food Bingo, dancing, hearing stories and playing, while I attended the publishing panel. I also met a book publicist and several reputable publishers.
Things I needed to do.
Things I was timid to do.
All I could think of was, this is love:
Nudging your partner out of fear and excuses. Going on an errand just to make it easier (There was no reason our whole family needed to go). Falling in love with your children together as they danced with abandon.
I felt like calling out to my single friends and warning them:
Don’t marry a sunset! Don’t marry roses! Don’t marry jewelry! Don’t marry passion! Don’t marry security! Don’t marry the right words! Don’t marry an image! Don’t marry Mr. Right! Don’t marry Mr. Right Now! Don’t marry perfect! Don’t marry money! Don’t marry a life preserver!
Marry flesh and blood love.
And go all in.
It was the fifth of July.
The park was littered with the charred vestiges of fireworks. When we got to the playground, a family was already there. A father was chattering in Spanish on his cell phone while pushing his daughters on the swings. Their dog was just outside the playground under a bench. A park employee was giving her a drink of water. Dogs are not allowed in the park, let alone the playground. Raised with cats, I have an instinctive fear of dogs. This one seemed harmless, so I bit my tongue.
The children played.
About ten minutes later, the dog ambled onto the play equipment and into a prime shady spot, now about six feet away from me. I looked over at the father, still blabbing away on his phone, oblivious to both his kids and his dog. My annoyance rose, but the dog seemed fine, so I exercised self-control. I figured that she must be a family dog and her owner knew she was great with kids.
Still on his phone, the father gathered his kids and headed towards their car.
“Sir,” I called after him. “Sir! Your dog! You’re forgetting your dog!”
He slipped into his vehicle and drove away. Stunned, I looked back at the dog.
“Well, who are you?” I asked. “Who do you belong to?”
I whipped out my own phone and dialed my husband, the ultimate dog-lover. I described the dog and asked if he thought we were safe playing. Of course, he reassured me. The dog just laid on the ground.
Ten minutes later another family arrived to play. A mother and tween daughter.
“This isn’t our dog,” I informed them, not wanting them to fooled like I had been. That was a true statement, but as the words left my lips, they surprised me by feeling like a lie.
Horror and fear crossed their faces. The dog just laid there. After a couple of minutes, they left.
A distant fire engine wailed and the dog howled.
A memory of the sweetest part of my husband’s old dog, Mandingo, sprung to mind. He used to howl with all his heart at sounds that were indistinguishable to us. Such a beautiful sound. On impulse, I texted my husband:
Should we keep her? I sent a picture, but it was a joke.
A moment later, he appeared. I am not the dog-lover in this family. If there was the slightest inkling of me wanting a dog, she must be special he thought. He checked her out: a bit scruffy, but no fleas. Perhaps she had been frightened by the fireworks. He played with her; she was docile and sweet.
“Let’s take her home,” he suggested. “We’ll see if we can find her family.”
I stood up.
“Come here, girl,” I said, patting my leg and heading towards home.
And just like that, I became a liar:
She was our dog!
Of course, we had her scanned, asked a few local vets about her, checked the town’s bulletin board for a notice, and published her picture in the Miami Herald.
And then, we named her Betsy Ross.
I met one boy on a blue moon. We were freshly married by the next blue moon. Tonight is our third blue moon and I now have three boys who gave me a palm full of daisies and all of their love.
Blue moons are rare, but they come.
To Andres on our 5th wedding anniversary,
The story is you and me became we.
Today is a day that seems like it should just be the two of us. That’s what all the experts say. Make time to date your spouse. But the us that we became five years ago has grown from a party of two to a party of four. My heart changed forever when our darling boys were born. There is not a single part of me that doesn’t include them, not even my love for you. Just yesterday as I watched you and your two shadows mow our lawn, my heart exploded with joy. Yours did too. I know because we exchanged a glance. No, that’s not true. I knew what you felt without even looking at you, because I know you.
And so, when the babysitter cancelled and the available options got too complicated, it seemed perfect to take our boys along with us on our anniversary date. I told them about it and they are excited. They will wear buttoned-down shirts, but you will have to pick up the tab. I will be their first date at the place where we shared our first date.
It’s not ideal, but it’s a deal we stuck to make it work. If nothing else, marriage teaches you how to share, and we have become adept at adapting. Here’s what else it’s taught me:
Love is simple.
It is not complicated or confusing. (Relationships can be, but not love.)
Love is not divisive. There is not one love for children. Another for lovers. And another for humanity at large.
Love encompasses all.
Love is something real that I can touch. A hand. A cheek. But love is also something mysterious that I can’t grasp. Something ephemeral that enters my heart without warning and sometimes catches in my throat, waters my eyes or sends a shiver up my spine. (Still!)
Love is a choice. Something to accept. Something to give. An invitation and a command to let all else go.
Love is not one thing.
Love is everything.
And to me,
everything is you.
Happy anniversary, my love. Here’s to another five, fifty, a hundred more!
You are the coolest guy. You’re fun and funny. A best playmate, a fixer and a man with great ideas.
We love you mucho, mucho, mucho.
Max and Jack
Today is my and Andres’ fourth wedding anniversary.
Happy anniversary, my love.
I thought today I would be be thinking about our marriage, but with famous weddings taking over all media, I find myself thinking of our wedding. It was beautiful. Especially the way it began and ended.
I expected to cry. I had a special hankie for the occasion tucked into my bouquet. But as I walked down the aisle, all I felt was pure joy. The happy faces of our family and dearest friends overwhelmed me. Here I thought this day was celebrating the beginning of love, when I was hit with the realization that I have always been in the tender care of my family’s love. I smiled ear to ear, because how could I not?
At the end of the aisle, it was you, my beloved. We couldn’t stop giggling and talking through the whole ceremony because that’s us. When we were first dating I asked you what would happen if we ever ran out of things to talk about. You promised me we never would, and you were right. Our love is neither solemn or silent. It’s boisterous, babbling, unstoppable.
I’m not sure if our guests realized that the end of our wedding came 15 minutes early, because we wanted to be alone together. We had a first song and a last. We had the DJ play it, so we could leave. Come Away with Me by Norah Jones. And then we left, not saying good-bye or being showered by confetti. We held hands and made a run for it.
It being the rest of our lives.
Here are a few of the details from what happened in between the beginning and the end.
Us, married less than an hour.
Our life together is no longer very glamorous; we rock babies instead of dance all night. But last week, after breakfast, you caught me, we caught each other in an 8 am dance. The boys watched in awe. All of a sudden my head went dizzy as I felt my heels go over my heart. Lost and found in your arms.
That is marriage.
That is our marriage.
As happy as I look in our wedding pictures is nothing compared to how happy I am now in the life we held hands and ran away to create together.
I always struggle to describe exactly what my husband and I have in common. On the surface we seem like such opposites. When we met he was the Latin party boy and I was the American yoga instructor. He loves dogs and I love cats. But on a deeper level we always connected, though it’s been hard to explain precisely how to others.
I want to say we share a sense of humor, but then I remember a slew of silly comedies that leave him doubled-over with laughter and me baffled and bored. I want to say we share similar political views, because 95% of our ballots are the same. However, I know we both marked different names in the past two presidential elections. I think the best way to describe our connection is that we are never more than two steps apart. For example, when choosing a paint color or piece of furniture we either initially pick the same thing or quickly find a compromise that feels more right than our individual first choices. If our relationship was a dance, our bodies would sometimes be smashed close together and sometimes spinning in opposite directions, but we’d always be holding hands.
The biggest difference between us is how we see the world. Literally. I always knew that different people have different perspectives on life, but it wasn’t until I met Andres that I truly comprehended that we can also have completely different perceptions. Literally.
When Andres and I first became a couple, we had a wonderful dog named Mandingo. On our nightly walks Andres often commented on different things he saw. My head careened right and left, up and down, but I simply couldn’t see what he was talking about. Occasionally, I questioned whether he was making up stuff. How could I miss that cat, that vintage car, that weird guy carrying a watermelon? Try as I might, I could only see half of what he could. I came to realize that I don’t see a lot. On a high school field trip to a planetarium, all the constellations on display shone brighter than the other stars and I still couldn’t pick out the Big Dipper. I know I would be the worst eye-witness, because I couldn’t even describe my own mother accurately to a sketch artist.
I don’t see certain things and because I don’t see them, I don’t know they exist. If Andres didn’t tell me there were parrots it the tree, I never would have guessed it. It goes both ways. The reason my eyes miss details is that I perceive the world energetically. No auras or anything that far out, but I genuinely use my heart as my eyes. I see emotions, rather than physical details. This was the flip side of Andres and I getting to know each other. Driving home from dinner parties, we rehashed the evening. Didn’t you see how flustered she was when she mentioned the first year of her marriage? He was so uncomfortable when you started talking about vacations. How can you know someone for twenty years and not know she had three miscarriages? He was blown away by what I saw and what I learned about his close friends and family.
We see the world differently and that is how we complement each other. Our love offers more complements than mere compliments. The way the color blue makes the color orange pop. The way a valley’s dip creates a peak’s height. The way shadows define light. We do not complete each other because we are both whole, but complement each other beautifully.