Reality Check: Mother’s Day – Laura Fahrenthold – Author
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April 15, 2015
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Reality Check: Mother’s Day

Is it possible that I am really the only mother out there who experienced more family stress over Mother’s Day than it was worth?


After it was over, I checked in on Facebook, only to see dozens of posts with happy, smiling families bearing flowers at big family dinners with the mothers wearing lovely pink lipstick and pretty dresses, smiling joyfully. Huh?


It had all the promise of a great day. My mother flew in to spend it with us and then stay for the week. She was happy potting plants while I worked in the yard, helping to build a fence and create a rock garden. It looks amazing! This is the kind of stuff that makes me happiest—house beautification projects—not dragging my teenage daughters out to dinner to pretend they were suddenly ever so HAPPY because it was Mother’s Day! Let’s tell Mom how much we love her and how special she is! In fact, let’s thank her for everything she does for us while we’re at it!


Granted, I changed the plan from going out to dinner in the city to staying local at the last minute. And then, of course, we couldn’t get reservations.


While sitting at a traffic light, I went on Google to search for options.


“Mom, that is sooo dangerous,” Susannah scolded. “Don’t text and drive.”


“I am not texting and driving, Susannah. I am texting and sitting,” I replied.


“Let’s just go to the city like we’d originally planned,” Nell said, exasperated after just taking the train home from the city.


“That will take forever,” her sister complained. “I’m starving. Couldn’t you have gotten out of photography class any earlier?”


“Mom is the one who screwed this up, not me Susannah!”


“Yeah, but you’re the one…”


“Girls!” my Mom called out, interrupting the spat. I half expected her to say, “I’m going to pull the car over if you don’t stop fighting this instant!” like she used to with my sister and me. Only she wasn’t driving.


Instead she used the guilt-inducing, “I traveled all this way to see you, not to hear you bicker,” line.


I learned a long time ago to stay out of my kids petty arguments when they have them. Imagine if your kids commented on your marital spats?


“Dad, I want you to apologize to Mom right now. She is not a stupid freaking smelly faced idiot. She is a lovely woman who gave birth to us!”


A half hour later, we found a local grill that serves steak, seafood and pasta. Perfect!


Only then I made the mortal mistake of asking to change from the table to a booth, further setting the tone for the evening.


“It’s so embarrassing,” the girls said, mortified. “You can’t sit at one table and then ask for another! Everyone was staring at us. Oh my God!”


Amen to the nice glass of Chardonnay that now sat before me.


The waiter came over to tell us the specials.


“What?” Gramma said. “I really can’t hear a word you are saying. Can you repeat it for me?”  The music was blaring to the point of not being able to hear. I repeated the specials after him, word-for-word, while the girls sunk further and further into the banquette, eyeballs a rollin’.


“It’s a pan seared… then flash fried… fresh filet of Atlantic octopus…served on a bead of succulent farm raised ramps… roasted organic garlic and…. lightly toasted almond slivers with a balsamic vinegar glaze, Mom.”


“On Ragu?” she asked.


“No, Mom. On ramps.”


“Oh, that sounds delicious. I’ll have that. What’s a ramp?”


With that, the girls then began texting each other under the table.


I have little tolerance for texting teenagers to begin with, much less to talk about their grandmother after she had just flown all this way to see us.


I shot them the look.


“We’re not doing anything,” they cried, all best buddy, two against one again. That’s when they typically mobilize, when it’s to army against me.


“I saw you texting each other under the table!” I said. Then I lowered my voice to tell them it was rude and to put their phones away.


“What?” my Mom asked.


“Nothing Gramma.”


“You know Gramma hates it when you tell her ‘nothing.’ You know I am hard of hearing,” she said adjusting the volume on her devices. “Wait until your grandchildren cut you out of the conversation.”


“We were talking about Mom’s present,” Susannah offered loudly.


By this time, I’d already asked two waiters if they could turn down the music, which probably meant they turned it up. Backup came from another table – the one with the newborn who you couldn’t even hear crying because the music was so loud — when they also asked for less volume and more appropriate music. “Keep on Rocking in the Free World” was then replaced by jazz.


Ahhh…much better! Now we could hear each other arguing again.


Susannah handed me a nicely wrapped present, but I could tell she was still upset with me for getting upset with her for not vacuuming the house earlier in the week. Her dog sheds a lot and part of the deal was that she would clean up after him which of course, she doesn’t do. I finally threatened to get rid of the dog, which of course, I would not do, in an effort to get her to stick to the program.


Oh honey. Earrings! They’re lovely! Thank you sweetheart, but I told you, I don’t want you to spend your babysitting money on a present for me. A homemade card or a pretty bunch of dandelions is more than enough to make a Mom feel appreciated.


My eldest sat there drawing designs in the balsamic vinegar on her salad plate, not really talking, except to give one word answers or flash a forced smile. Her sister ate half of her meal and pouted until we were finished.


In the end, I gave them both a pass, because that’s what mothers do, especially on Mother’s Day. I truly understand that being a teenager is just as hard of a job.


Check please!

Photo credit:


  1. Mel Goldstein says:

    Good story Laura. Just think, your girs will eventiually grow up and thank you for all you do for them.
    A belated Happy Mother’s Day to you.
    Keep on writing.

  2. Tracy Ronnermann says:

    No pink lipstick here either dear!

  3. Gitte Brix says:

    I hear those Ramps are all the rage here in Hastings…

    • Laura says:

      They’re actually good. I make them into pesto and freeze it. Come over for dinner! xxxoox

  4. Idil says:

    I had one of those mother of mother’s days too! I enjoyed reading this.

  5. Lynn Young says:

    funny stores, Laura,most typical! Say hello to my friend Shirley.


  6. Kate says:

    I think these holidays are all a bit fraught. Just ignore the whole thing, and enjoy another day when the planets align and things run smoothly of their own accord. Those are the real mother’s days.

  7. Vicky Bugbee says:

    Laura, Great Mother’s Day story! So true when you are dealing with multi-generations. You think it will all go smoothly and leave glowing memories. Reminds me of going to my parents with three kids when they were 10, 7 and 2. Mom was so excited to serve the kids dinner – white fish in white sauce, cauliflower, and something else white.

    The two year old refused to look at it and crawled down under the table while the others drank milk and passed. My mother didn’t understand that they weren’t as thrilled with dinner as she was and my dad in frustration told my kids that they had no manners. But, whenever we went home to my parents they never served white fish and cauliflower again.

  8. Victoria says:

    Nothing out of the ordinary… at least in my book. I feel like that with most holiday, birthdays. You are not alone. And you are lucky that your kids still join you. In our house the bickering starts with the choice of restaurant. And the flat out refusal. Bring me take out, we hear. It made me smile, because everything you said could have come out of my mouth.
    Keep doing what your doing. It all shall pass.

  9. uncle jerry says:

    be kind and nice everyday, not just special days. miss u3…..

  10. Marisol says:

    Love this story!!! I understand whole-heartedly!! xoxo