No matter our age.
I find that comforting.
This past week I flew across country to visit my mom. I have adult children now. I have grandchildren, but my mom waits on me as if I’m still her (young) child whom she must care for and nurture.
You know how tenderly we parents watch over our 3-year- old, our 11-year-old, our 16 and 20-year-old? Well, guess what? We do the same when they’re 29, and 45, and yes, even older.
“I bought a wheat bagel for your breakfast, just what you like,” my mom chirps at 8 a.m. our first morning. I don’t eat bagels. I munch on wheat toast with organic peanut butter and blueberry jam every morning, but I so appreciate the thought that I slice the (just thawed) bagel and search for the toaster.
“I don’t own a toaster,” Mom explains five minutes into my opening and closing cabinets.
“Oh.” I turn on the oven to Broil.
“I’ve never used Broil. Do you think it works?” Mom asks, her voice tinged with wonder and curiosity.
I never use Broil either, at least not for toasting bread, so we stand in front of the oven and wait for four minutes.
I open the door. Bagel’s still soft.
Mom rinses some blueberries and raspberries, throws a few on her cereal, and makes me a bowl. “Sit down and eat,” she demands. “I’ll watch the bagel.”
I ignore her and open the oven – bagel’s still soft.
She pours milk into her bowl and I order her: “Eat before your cereal gets mushy!” She ignores me, and we check the oven.
Bagel’s still soft.
Simultaneously, we hit the Broil button off, and then I select Bake at 450 degrees. “Really, Mom, start breakfast. I’ll be right there.”
Mom stares longingly at her now soggy shredded wheat waiting for her on the dining room table but says, “Let me get the peanut butter out for your bagel,” as if I can’t reach up to the cabinet and pull out the Jiffy jar.
I check the bagel – it’s actually getting a little toasted. Nonchalantly I ask, “Do you have some jam?” but inwardly kick myself as soon as the words are out of my mouth.
Crestfallen, she opens the refrigerator and responds, “How about Seville Orange Marmalade?”
“Um, no, I really don’t like marmalade.”
“How can you NOT like marmalade? Here, try it.”
I hate marmalade. Don’t know why, but I have since I was a kid. So like a kid, I shake my head no. I probably pout too.
Mom pulls out another jar. “Oh, here’s Apricot Preserves.”
“I really don’t…”
A spoon with some apricot preserves is suddenly swung in front of me, so I place a smidgen on my bagel and take one bite, making a face. “Nope, don’t like it. I’m fine with just peanut butter. Now, let’s eat.”
Her head is still in the refrigerator. “Aha! Red Current Jelly! Want to try that?”
“You’re kidding me, right?”
I walk to the table with my plate of, by now, cold toasted bagel. “Mom – come on.”
She makes a noise and produces another glass bottle from the refrigerator. “Look! Fig Butter. That could taste good…?”
“Why the heck do you have fig butter?”
She shrugs. “I bought it for a recipe. Umm, that could have been quite a while ago.”
I give her a peanut buttery smile. “Join me.” Her cereal is now indistinguishable from overcooked oatmeal that is dotted with some red and blue berries.
Giving up, my mom sits down at her place, only to pop up with an excited exclamation. She races back to the refrigerator and presents me with her find:
“CHERRY PIE JELLY!”
I groan, “Noooooooooooooo.”
I begin to laugh so hard I can’t take another bite of baked bagel.
How wonderful is it to have a mom who still treats you like her special little girl, the daughter she still wants to keep happy?
But still, I don’t touch the cherry pie jelly.