I was going through the drawer in the bedside table the other day and stumbled across a thin stack of cut-out construction paper cards held together by two staples. The front piece -- a canary yellow construction paper square -- had a purple and pink flower with an aqua stem surrounded by purple hearts drawn on it in crayon, with "I (Heart) You Mommy" written underneath.
I flipped open the tiny, beautifully handmade booklet to reveal six more canary yellow construction paper squares, each one bearing a different promise. I immediately recognized it as a Mother's Day present from my daughter -- circa 2002. She was about five.
"I will do dish" she wrote in adorable, lopsided, purple crayon letters.
"I will kleen my room" said another.
"I will give u a message" said yet another.
A message? She must have meant massage.
A big smile spread across my face and made its way to my heart, all warm and sentimental, as I looked at the little construction paper coupon booklet my baby girl, who's about to be 13 (moment of silence, please... say a prayer... thank you) had carefully crafted eight years before. So sweet. So... hmmm... I wonder...
I tossed my sentimentality aside and flipped the coupon booklet over. Nope. No numbers scribbled in crayon. This was a good thing. This begged the question...
Do Mother's Day coupon booklets have an expiration date? Are there statute of limitations on how long we can hold our children to the promises scribbled inside them? Could I dare get her to clean her room and do the dishes without question, citing her promises of so long ago?
My son, who will be 16 this month (moment of silence, please... say a prayer... thank you) once gave me a beautifully handmade, three-part construction paper Mother's Day card featuring reasons why he loved me. I think he was five, too. (And I also think I should own construction paper stock.)
"I love you because you read to me," he wrote, and beside it was a marker and crayon depiction of a stick me with squiggly hair reading to a smiling stick him. Awww.
"I love you because you are fun." More pictures. Hearts. Squiggly thingys.
"I love you because you vacuum."
Awww ... wait a minute ...what?
"He obviously has you confused with some other mother," my husband said as I looked down at the drawing of a stick mama with squiggly hair pushing a stick thingy across a crayon carpet. Even though it was almost 11 years ago, I still remember what my husband said. I remember because I also remember the urge to snatch a knot in his head.
Sigh. But he was right. Why did my baby boy choose such an odd and rare occurrence to choose to love me for? Was it my imagination, or was the stick vacuuming mama skinnier than the stick reading mama? Was he, indeed, thinking of some other mother? Was he trying to tell me something?
Maybe that was the message my daughter said she would give me.
Maybe today, it being Mother's Day and all, I should ask him. Right after I get my daughter to do the "dish" and "kleen" her room.
Oh, and if anyone runs across my son's other mother, the much skinnier one, please send her on over to my house. If I'm not there, tell her to go on in and start vacuuming.
I'm going to the "moovies."
I have a coupon.
Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.