The Mothers Are Coming!

Our mothers, my hubby’s and mine, will soon visit.

We coordinate their stays because, well, it blunts their impact.

We are grateful to have them, but it requires mental training (and therapy) to get up for the big day.

Like a D-Day invasion, the mom’s prep begins early. The month before their offensive, we field a barrage of questions. Sleeping and eating arrangements are chief among their concerns, along with appropriate dress, volume of restaurant noise, and spiciness of the fare.

My mother is a gem to host, and I repeatedly remind my husband of that in advance.

She is a pleaser and fervently believes that to be worthy of my sweet man, I must keep an immaculate house. Sure, it’s not 1962, but she helps clean, and who am I to deny my mother that pleasure in the twilight of her life?

My mom’s issue: boundaries. She swears by her humble upbringing in a 4-room house with 11 siblings. Consequently, she has no use for privacy. Translation: my hubby bites his tongue as she wanders unannounced into our bedroom, bathroom, and closet.

By contrast, for my mother-in-law, privacy is key, and so too is service.

She rises each morning and anchors at our kitchen table. From there, just like the Wizard, she oversees my version of Oz. At her post, with her “bad eyesight,” she can spot dust at 30 yards.

Despite her “poor hearing,” she can recite conversations that occur in other rooms.

She is smart and knowledgeable of world affairs.

This octogenarian refuses to impose but is clear that mustard, half and half, and English muffins are required for her stay. After 28 years of reminders, these rations are purchased long before her arrival.

The best time of their stay comes each day about 4 p.m.  Wine and nibbles in hand, they revive their memories and are again awash in youth.

With awakened passion, they pour out their life stories for us to soak up. And, in those moments, I listen and pray that someday I can hold my children’s attention in the same way.

Michele Valdez

Michele Valdez, a slightly compulsive, mildly angry feminist, has been an attorney, volunteer, and The Mad Housewife columnist. She has four demanding adult children and a patient husband.

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