May – From the heart

While elephants may never forget, husbands often do, discovers our mum

May means Mother’s Day. It means lots of gooey gluey homemade cards, maybe a bunch of flowers and lunch somewhere nice to celebrate all the wonderful things I do for the family.

It does not mean locked bedroom doors (the Teen Child, the Tween Child and the Blonde Child) and a comotose Boy Child on the beanbag clutching an X-Box remote.

“Good morning!” I trill as I trip over an abandoned hot chocolate mug lying in the middle of the beige lounge room rug (who drinks hot chocolate in May, I mean seriously?).

There is silence, punctuated only by a groan from the Boy Child as his latest mission fails.

I clatter about in the kitchen for a bit, optimistically dragging out the big flower vase from the back of a cupboard and then scrambling fruitlessly for wet wipes to mop up the rapidly dilating hot chocolate stain.

“I said you shouldn’t buy cream carpets,” grunts my husband, sliding a mug under the Nespresso machine.

“Oh look! The posh flower vase!” I cry triumphantly, placing it onto the kitchen workbench. “Now, what on earth shall I fill it with?”

My husband shoots me a withering sort of look and shuffles into the lounge room with his coffee. Hmm, I ponder. They’re obviously waiting to surprise me later in the day.

I return to bed just in case they were hoping to catch me unawares with tea and toast and a boiled egg.

The house settles back into silence as I pull out a book. I sip my tea and read a page. Nothing, not a sound. I read another page and then decide to watch an episode of Suits on my ipad. Silence reigns.

Quarter of an hour later my husband peers around the bedroom door. “Are you not getting up today?” he grins.

“I’m waiting for my Mother’s Day surprise,” I retort.

The grin fades, in fact he starts to turn decidedly grey. “Mother’s Day? I thought we celebrated the English one two months ago?”

“No,” I reply patiently. “We didn’t celebrate British Mothering Sunday in March because you said you couldn’t find any greetings cards. So we agreed to celebrate the Hong Kong one in May.”

“Did we?” he’s still looking slightly grey. “What about the Aussie one,” he suddenly rallies. “Why don’t we wait and celebrate that one?”

“Today is also the Aussie one,” I reply.

He disappears back downstairs and I can hear a low but frenzied discussion with the kids in the kitchen. Suddenly the Boy Child yelps “Oh yes!” and I hear him thundering back upstairs. There are a couple of crashes in his bedroom and he races into my room dragging his school bag behind him which he proceeds to upend onto the bed. A battered Smiggle pencil case, some pencil shavings, a couple of forgotten party invites and a crushed card with some sort of yellow flower stuck to it tumble out. He retrieves the card and triumphantly hands it to me. “For you, mum!” It’s glued together but I manage to prise it open. ‘To Mummy, I love you! From Chloe.’

“Who’s Chloe?” I ponder.

“What?” he grabs the card back off me. “Oh, she sits next to me in Integrated. Maybe she’s got my card? Oh well!” He hands the card back and skips off downstairs.

Great, so out of four children I have one gooey gluey homemade card from a child that doesn’t even belong to me.

Back in another lifetime when the children were very small and we used to live in Australia, we mums decided at preschool pick-up one afternoon that we might prefer something other than gooey gluey homemade stuff. To be fair we were very tired, hard-working mummies of tiny children, existing from day to day with very little external help. One mother actually burst into tears (to be fair she had three-year-old twins and was married to a pilot). “No more homemade gluey things! I want sparkly, shiny expensive things in little green boxes!” she sobbed. “Or just an afternoon by myself in Westfield!” As I said, they were desperate times.

Ten minutes later I hear the Volvo purring its way out of the driveway. Could a sparkly, shiny expensive thing be coming my way? Twenty minutes later still and the kids burst back through the front door. “Happy Mothers Day!” they cry, handing me a plate of squashed croissants and a cold takeaway coffee.

“This is for you!” cries the Tween Child, handing me a Watson’s bag. Inside is a tube of apricot exfoliating scrub.

“Oh, thanks,” I say.

“You said you loved it!” replies the Tween Child. Did I? I vaguely recall mentioning once that it was a reasonably good product for my skin type. But I also remember mentioning on countless occasions that French champagne and diamonds were also really great products. Oh well. No sparkly, shiny things for me this year.

But the point is, I think to myself, is that the children are all here, sitting on my bed and saying that while they may have inherited their father’s inability to recall important dates, they do care enough to spend their Sunday morning trying to sort it out. It’s their way, in a gooey gluey fashion, of saying they really do care. And I guess that’s what counts.