It is that time of year again, when adult children make the long journey home or a long distance phone call to pay homage to the most important human person in their lives and try their luck and pray to the God of Mom Logic that this is the year they will solve a question more perplexing than the “Riddle of the Sphinx” – the oldest and trickiest question ever known to Homo Sapiens :
What does a mother really want for Mother’s Day from her Adult Children? Especially when you are now too adult to shop at Target?

It is an adult child’s absolute worst nightmare as we have gone way past the hand crafted delicate Tiffany quality macaroni painted necklace, the Hallmark worthy hand printed glittery card with the crayoned “I love you Mommy”, the burnt toast and runny eggs surprise breakfast in bed, or the small teddy bear and mug bought with saved up birthday money and allowance.

You actually have a job, your own car, your own home, may even have a partner or have your children of your own or thinking of having children, heck, you even enjoyed your little vacuum cleaner shopping the other week. You were so proud of yourself that you actually took a selfie with your brand new Dyson. Why, you even sort your laundry!

Congratulations, you are now an adult and after a waiting period of two years after graduation, your mother is now officially entitled to the claim the higher benefits of “Adult Children Mother’s Day Gift Giving”. Yes, you have been moved to the next income and age tax bracket and hence, the value of the gift giving must increase.

You are now deemed old enough to know that your mother is the most important person in your life and hence, by default you should have earned enough stripes in life to know the answer to the “Mother’s Day” question by now. Basically, you are officially old enough to have “no more excuses”.

The Supermarket shelves, magazines and websites are full of products and ideas, obviously for the younger children, or of a teenage or just started working variety. You know that you are now banned from the Target variety of generic mom gifts.

Like the Sphinx, the older Mother is known to tear her adult children to shreds, condemning them to spend the rest of the year in overwhelming guilt of having bought the wrong gift.

So what can an adult child give his/her Mother on this special day that would make the 7 o’clock news? A stellar piece of gift that would launch a thousand tears and a chance to win the coveted “favourite” adult child of the year spot. Imagine, being the adult child who can do no wrong, who will receive the first serve at family gatherings, extra mash, extra serve of chocolate pie and that all important right hand spot at the family dinner, right next to mom. You actually become the official Christmas Day Dinner advisor to Mom as to whose turn it is to host it or better yet, you are, gasp, given the power to set the time for Christmas DInner!

I did what most potential “favourite” adult child would do. I googled and researched. It has been nearly three thousand years since the birth of glorified motherhood, someone surely must have cracked that question by now.

What about a fancy gold plated Mother’s Day Card for the 24 hours of labour pain she had with me?

What about Juliet Rose flowers for the agonizing cut of the surgical blade of the C-section?

What about dinner at the fancy Le Meurice restaurant for the sleepless nights of when I was burning up with measles?

What about The Koh-I-Noor diamond for when she waited up for me while I partied all night, playing stupid drinking games?

What about a bottle of Chanel Grand Extrait for when she helped clean me up as I sobbed through broken relationships, painful pregnancies, and sick children?

What about a box of Godiva chocolates for every time she took a tissue and wiped my tears when I lost everything and had nothing?

Unless I won the Lottery, these ideas remained firmly out of reach and it looked like I was going to get the usual stash. I was just about to smash my computer after hours of useless of trawling when my teenage daughter rushed in, full of exuberance, excitement and a lot of angst.
“Mom….do you know what just happened?” she asked as she continued her tirade of “Mom, this…Mom, that…”

Undaunted by an overly grumpily sugar deprived middle aged mother, she rambled on how some of her classmates were not pulling their weight in a group project and then she made me swear to secrecy of a burning ambition she had to become an actress. She has just started High School and I had been worried because she worried over everything, from how to walk or wear her hair. My scowl disappeared as her youthful optimism had returned and was infectious and I dreamt along with her as she conjured a beautiful picture of the future ahead. I could not help but fall in love with what she was dreaming.

Typical teenager speak, she talked incessantly and quickly, punctuated with extreme highs and lows as we shared special memories that belonged to only her and I and we both made promises of a shared future where I would be but seated in the front row audience to applaud her as she took centre stage of her life.

“Honey, what about your group project?” I asked, a little worried.

“Mommy, I will be okay,” she said as she unceremoniously barged out of my room as her phone rudely interrupted our conversation.

As she left the room, my heart followed her every step and I know I will watch and follow her steps for the rest of her life, just like my own mother has and will continue to do so.

Yes, she will be okay.

I know that for this Mother’s Day, my teenage daughter will get me a store bought card and probably a bathrobe, a book, a DVD or a pair of fluffy bedroom slippers from Target which I will adore but she had just unwittingly given me the best Mother’s Day gift, albeit a week early.

She had given me the answer I was looking for.

I picked up the phone and dialled my mother’s number to speak to her even though it was officially not Mother’s Day yet.

“Mommy?” I said when she picked up and I heard her gasp in surprise at the term she has not heard for a long time.

“I am going to be okay.” I said.

I heard her sigh and the she started to breath a little easier and I could feel her warmth and smiles as she said tenderly over the phone, “That’s so wonderful, darling. That’s the best thing I have heard.”

Okay, so I was not dead yet. It must have meant one thing – I PASSED! I did it!

I was about to do the Celebratory Daughter Actually Winning Dance when …

“Remember, don’t worry about bringing me an expensive present when I see you on Mother’s Day, ok?,” my mother said as she hung up, “Just be early.”

Wait, wait…was that a trick question? Good Lord, no one told me that there was a second Mother of all Sphinx Riddle after the first?

Don’t worry about bringing me an expensive present? What did that mean? Did it mean that I have to buy her an expensive present? Or a cheap present? Or just a present? Or no present? Early? Is that lunch, before lunch, breakfast??

I turned on my computer again and sighed. I felt like a deflated balloon. It looked like I will be gift-wrapping my answer in a gift box of
1) something non functional,
2) glassy, sparkly, glittery
3) ornamental,
4) probably pink,
5) of delicate china, pearl, steel
6) from that expensive boutique shop, which is a step up from Target.

I’m guessing that’s where all the adult children will be, shopping in panic frenzy on Saturday 4.45pm, before Mother’s Day.

I should have known NOBODY ever beats mom, especially when it comes to these trick Mom Questions.

Mothers WIN all the time. Yes, even when you’re 70 and Mom is 98, she will still beat you, hands down. Mom will be chasing you down the hallway on her Zimmer Frame, and without her dentures as she spits out your full name “Phyllis Jane Matilda Elizabeth blah blah blah …” and you will feel like a 7 year old all over again as you run screaming down that hall, saying “It wasn’t me, Mom! It wasn’t me!”

But just for this year, don’t forget to gift-wrap the present by telling your mom that “you will be okay”. I am sure that will swing the odds slightly in your favour and you might just win this once to be the Favourite Adult Child.

But at least, our moms will know it is not from Target and they might let us live till Christmas.

© ELT 2016. All rights reserved


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