The baby turned one last weekend with all the hurrah and fanfare that could be mustered up when your baby is sick, but you have invited 30 of your closest family and friends over for a party.
Birthdays are exciting! They are fun and festive, always involving awesome munchies and copious amounts of alcohol; At least in my house. Entertaining is always a bit stressful, having a house full of children adds to that stress, but with my youngest child being under the weather I think that was the part that had me the most on edge. I threw myself into the theory that having 20 sets of adult hands to help out would be the best idea possible. I mean, all he really wanted was cuddles and who better to serve that purpose than the grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles?
I immersed myself in the kitchen, glass of wine in hand, as our extended family began to trickle in. My heart swelled with happiness as I allowed myself to really absorb my good fortune. So many people don’t have the luxury of living near their family, being close to their family, having so many relatives in good health. While life with so many little ones is really difficult at times, we are truly blessed.
As my parents arrived with birthday presents for the baby my mother handed me a large bag. “Here’s your hostess gift!” she giggled as she walked off to give the birthday boy some one-year-old kisses.
“A hostess gift? How strange… unless it’s booze, then it’s completely appropriate,” I thought, as I opened the bag. Imagine my surprise when I found a slew of dish towels. Dish towels? Um, why? I put my present to the side as I continued to make appetizers.
Cooking gives my mind time to wander. As I chopped and diced, I started thinking about what my mother was thinking when she decided to buy me 30 dish towels… what did that even mean?
The epiphany hit me like a ton of bricks… Mom thinks my house is dirty.
Now, I wasn’t even offended. My house is dirty. Well, not like, call the Department of Children and Family Services dirty, but cluttered and messy. Shit, five people live here; Two of which still don’t wipe their own ass… Better Homes and Gardens this place isn’t. But dish towels? That’s a bit of a stretch.
Later on at the party my mom approached me, “How did you like your hostess gift?” she smiled.
“Umm, yeah, dish towels… Thanks?” I answered. “Mom, I know my house isn’t clean. It probably won’t be clean for many years.”
“That’s not why I gave them to you!” she retorted. She looked a bit offended by my twisted insight. “When we babysat last week, we couldn’t find extra dish towels… and Boy Wonder (who is 9) said he didn’t think you had any others.”
“Well, I do,” I replied. “Right under the sink. Like BW knows where anything is around here if it isn’t his iPad?” I mean seriously, the kid can’t find the toilet paper if the roll is empty. I wonder how he’ll ever survive the real world.
“New dish towels are like new underwear,” mom insisted.
WHAT? Wait… WHAT?
As I stood there, in my dirty-ass kitchen, mushroom cap in one hand, crabmeat stuffing in the other, surrounded by my children, with nieces and nephews all running and playing, screaming and yelling, and laughing, lots of laughing… I examined my mother for obvious signs of mental illness. Her hair was still perfectly in place, her attire matched, while also matching her jewelry. She looked very much sane. Hmm, maybe I’m the crazy one? Have they started to sell dish towels at Victoria Secret while I’ve been stuck in the land of mom?
“Mom,” I questioned… “what, are you talking about?”
She continued, “They just dress everything up. You know, like new underwear.”
OMG… now it all made sense! It’s been over 35 years since my mom stood here; In the trenches. Her body and her kitchen have recovered. There are no Nutella handprints on her refrigerator door. No mud tracked onto her tile floor from a pair of cleats. She exercises, she eats smart, she has the time and energy to do those things. New underwear, or new dish towels can make the body or the room, feel better, prettier, dressier.
THERE IS HOPE!
It won’t always be like this.
I won’t always be like this.
I hung my new dish towels on the handrail of my grimy, loved stove.
And made a promise to myself to buy some new underwear for my very neglected body.