May 2014

Breakfast of Champions

Top Pot Doughnuts

When the coach sends that inevitable request for “snack mom” for games, be it soccer, baseball, or flag football, I hang back. I wait, and I watch, until every snack slot is filled, and then some. You may think me despicable, and perhaps I am. I like to think of myself as a conscientious objector to after game snacks.

I am 100% sure that none of the kids on our team are going hungry. Why not head home for a proper after game meal? Not to mention that I have no idea how to maneuver around food restrictions.

But the jig was up last Sunday. I think my daughter’s soccer coach, after three years, realized I had never brought snack. So when he provided game information, right there in the email, I saw that I was designated snack parent.

My husband suggested Top Pot Doughnuts. My knee-jerk reaction was pure revulsion. Are you kidding? Yesterday’s snack mom brought fruit kabobs and gluten-free sea algae seed bars. Doughnuts!? Are you kidding? The parents will hate me. The kids will hate me; those sun-screened, broccoli nibbling, no-TV –watching, violin and chess playing children of the new millennia? They are not allowed to eat doughnuts. They. Are. Not. Allowed. To. Eat. Doughnuts. glazed, chocolate with sprinkles

An irrepressibly evil grin spread across my face as my heart of darkness began pounding. I could feel the black tar coursing through my veins. If I bring doughnuts, my name will be mud in Snack Mom World. I will receive a lifetime ban from bringing snacks. It might include a fine, and public flogging, but so worth it! No mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa in the world will smooth it over. The judge and jury of snack world will hand my sentence down swiftly, harshly, without due process of law.

On Sunday morning, the family was, of course, running late. I ran into Top Pot, and ordered up three dozen doughnuts. Spare no expense; bring on the cortege! I let the clerk at the counter select the best, most decadent doughnuts.

“It’s extra for cream filled? No problem! Whatever you think the kids will like. It’s all for the children.”

We reached the soccer field, and as I walked in with the large Top Pot boxes, I felt all eyes upon me. People were staring, but not with disdain, but desire. Suddenly I was the Pied Piper of Hamelin, parents and children alike were chasing after me, hoping to get first dibs on the doughnuts. “No, we must wait until after the game. Players get first choice.” Some of these innocent eleven-year-olds had never had a doughnut.

“Do these have nuts in them?”

“No, it’s a misnomer. Honestly, I don’t know why they call them doughnuts. They are just dough balls deep fat fried.”

When the game ended, I was mobbed; practically trampled to death. I thought this joyous crowd of players and spectators would hoist me on their shoulders as if I had made the winning goal in a championship game. I was declared snack mom of the year, perhaps the century.

Missoni Bathing Suit cover upLas Vegas has a way of rubbing off on anyone who enters that most distinctive den of all dens of iniquity. My husband was at a trade show in Las Vegas last week, and sent me a photo of a fantastic Missoni bathing suit cover up.

“Yes, lovely”, I responded, realizing this was to be my Mother’s Day gift. I began envisioning myself poolside in the summer, reading a magazine, sipping cocktails, lounging in a hand-woven Italian masterpiece. Oh sweet reverie.

My knight in shining armor came home from Vegas, a little worse for the wear, and presented me with a shopping bag, that had definitely not come from Missoni.

“That Missoni was way more money than what I wanted to spend, but I thought this would be a close second”, my beloved husband explained.

He wasn’t even coy enough to say, they didn’t have my size. He just shamelessly admitted he was too cheap, and presented me with the most astonishing excuse for a Mother’s Day present.

I knew what I had to do. I needed to represent every mother out there who has ever received a second or third-rate gift on Mother’s Day. “Put up your dukes Lars Lindstrom, because this was a costly mistake, you cheap &$%@+!” I could hear the words in my mind, and envisioned a one-two knockout punch to the sides of his Norwegian blockhead.

There was only one problem. I just couldn’t help grinning from ear to ear, like I’d just found a new banana-seat, high-handled bicycle under the Christmas tree. This man, my sweet Lars Lindstom, after almost eighteen years of marriage and 21 years of togetherness, he knows me! He really knows me!

Sure, a Missoni’s rather nice to prance and parade around in, but this trashy Vegas get up, I can work with this. It’s just so inspiring.vegas 041

Pick up and drop off at my children’s school, the next auction meeting, the grocery store, baby showers, bridge club, PTA meetings, UW Husky football games with a purple onesy underneath, Tupperware parties, the summer neighborhood block party, National Pamela Anderson Day, honestly where and when can’t I wear this?

My imagination is running wild. I need to find a 1983 Chevy Camaro to rent or borrow. I might need to bleach my hair blonde and get extensions, and lock myself in a tanning bed. I won’t come out until I’ve reached that perfect burnished orange color. I should schedule a liposuction appointment for the problem tummy area.

Oh dear, I’ve got to go, V. Stiviano is calling, she wants to borrow my outfit for a hot date with that super hunk of hotness, #DonaldSterling.

Mom family portrait-largerThere is a tone of wistful nostalgia when my mother, Helen, talks of growing up during The Great Depression and the war years. Collective deprivation produced a cohesion never experienced before or since in America. She reminisces about playing kick the can on Albany Street, collecting metal scraps and newspapers for the war effort, and as a five-year-old,  walking to the corner grocer to pick up a stick of butter for her mother, or cigarettes for her dad. The neighbor kid showed her the family’s machine gun hidden in the violin case. Where the violin was stored, no one knew. She and her siblings attended the Saturday matinee religiously, to swoon over Clark Gable and Montgomery Clift.

Her younger sister, Frances, was admired for her beauty and blonde locks, her older sister, Laura, praised for her comportment. My mother felt she was harder to love. Helen was reprimanded for her fiery temper, and teased relentlessly for her red hair; attributes inextricably linked in common lore. Her father, Bill, was a larger than life, loving guy, who fondly called her “Pinky”. He appreciated her for her sharp wit and assuaged her combativeness with humor.

Childhood came to an abrupt and absolute end, when the family buried her father, on my mother’s eleventh birthday. Her own mother went to work full-time to support the family. My mother, and her sister, Laura, became surrogate parents to their two younger siblings.

Responsibilities, in addition to school and homework, now included cooking, cleaning, laundry, mending and sewing, grocery shopping, and raising a five and a seven-year-old. When he came around, they fended off an abusive teenage brother, whom their father could no longer protect them against, and their mother could no longer control.mom graduation 020

Helen worked her way through college graduating with honors, Phi Theta Kappa. She immediately began teaching grade school, which she considered more vocation than job. She supported her older sister and mother on her meager salary and took a job in the cafeteria of the state hospital during the summers to keep a paycheck coming.

Written off as an “old maid school teacher” at twenty-five, she surprised everyone, including herself, when she met and married my father in 1962. She was a seasoned veteran at raising kids and all things domestic when we three girls came along in two-year intervals. My mother was warm and loving, yet a fierce disciplinarian. Everything she did was for family.

Easter 1969Helen never had a “me” day. An indulgence was the “beauty parlor” to crop her red, wavy hair, or a few bites of a Hershey bar she stashed in the cupboard, until I began climbing on the counter and stealing it.

In an era of Hamburger Helper and TV dinners, my mother made everything from scratch. Not in an egotistical Martha Stewart way, but it was simply what she knew. Homemade tarts, granola, delicious whole wheat bread, which barely made it out of the oven before my sisters and I devoured it. She sewed all of our clothes, until my oldest sister begged for a pair of “store bought” jeans when she was in seventh grade!

She supported all of our endeavors. When I took a comparative literature class in high school, my mother read all the Chaim Potok books that I read, so we could discuss them as I prepared my term paper. In an era when parents were less involved, my mother shuttled us back and forth to lessons, and attended every competition and performance. She volunteered at school, long before parent volunteer hours were required and meticulously tracked.

3rd gradeMy father died six years ago, after forty-six years of marriage. As the fog of grief lifted, my mother discovered a curious thing; freedom. For the first time in her life, she no longer was a twenty-four-seven caregiver. Today she is a vibrant, very young, seventy-seven year old enjoying the simple pleasures of life on her own terms; reading, watching movies, traveling, tending her beautiful garden, and spending time with her family, which now includes three wonderful sons-in-law and four grandchildren, in addition to her three daughters.

Words seem inadequate for the intense gratitude I feel toward my mother, who loved and loves unconditionally and fearlessly.

© 2017 Napadaisical
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