When your children are born, you dream they could be president someday. By the time they’re teenagers, you just hope you can keep them alive and out of jail until they’re 21.
There’s no question that motherhood definitely changes your perspective and teaches more than
a few unanticipated lessons along the way.
As I prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day relieved that both my sons made it past 21 and apparently
without criminal records, I’m also grateful they continue to tolerate me with humor, patience and
love despite numerous failings as a mother and the untold number of ways I’ve embarrassed
them – and myself.
I used to think that what I most wanted was for them to think I’m a “cool” mom. That dream
died in the teenage years. Now I’m just happy when they answer my phone calls.
Regarding the jail issue, I should note that my eldest son is a police officer and No. 2 son
definitely is not. The cardinal rule in our family is No. 1 is not allowed to arrest No. 2. If this rule
has been tested, I really don’t want to know: It would ruin my Mother’s Day.
However, there are a few things I would have preferred to have known before I began this
bewildering journey named motherhood. But I suppose the species would have died out almost
immediately if mothers realized what was ahead.
When I think about the many lessons I‘ve learned as a mom, most seem to involve embarrassing
myself. For example, heat rash and chicken pox are not the same thing, or so I was informed the
day I rushed my toddler to the pediatrician’s office in a panic.
I’ve also learned that planning ahead is important – as is being careful who you blame if
the plans don’t work out. This valuable lesson occurred one Mother’s Day when I berated a
restaurant hostess for losing our reservation for 17. We were eventually seated and enjoyed a
lovely meal. Still slightly miffed, I returned home to a phone message from another restaurant
where I actually made a reservation. They were holding a very large table for us. I hope they’ve
let someone else sit there by now.
Speaking of memorable dining experiences, I will never forget the reaction from my son, his 4th-
grade classmates and their teacher when I pulled a beer out of my lunch bag instead of the cream
soda I thought I packed to chaperone a field trip to the New Hampshire Statehouse. I learned this
can be a good indication that it’s time for a vision check.
The need to be more cautious about the things you yell also was a valuable lesson. I learned this
the day my 4-year-old strolled into his father’s home office to say goodbye before preschool and
I yelled after him: “Are you wearing underwear?” Neither of us realized Dad was conducting a
telephone interview at the time. Not surprisingly, the woman at the other end of the line quickly
ended the call. As you might imagine, we were most relieved when this child grew out of
his “commando” phase.
Asking a fellow football parent if we would be having sex in a bowl taught me it’s safer to 1)
never speak to another parent but if you must, 2) don’t repeat any phrases learned from your
I cannot adequately describe the look from the rather shy and religious man. Finally he
stuttered: “Excuse me?”
“I asked if we were going to have sex in a bowl next week,” I continued cheerfully.
His face darkened. “I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Sex in a bowl? That dessert you and your wife always bring to the dinners the night before the
“I call it Heavenly Delight,” he said as he hurried off. I was so mortified I couldn’t stop giggling.
Initially, No. 1 son was very upset that I revealed his team’s secret name for their favorite desert.
Now both sons find too much of their own “heavenly delight” in regaling anyone who’ll listen
with exaggerated renditions of this tale.
But I don’t care. At least they’re talking about me –and that’s pretty cool in itself.