My mom is giving me the ‘serious face’ as she says,
“Now tell me everything, from the beginning.”
I take a deep breath.
I weigh my options.
The international student still hasn’t been picked up. We still have an hour to kill. How can I get the student over here in time? And how can I stall for another HOUR? It’s hopeless.
So, with an open mind, and a very empty stomach (I ate a light lunch), I tell Mother everything. From the beginning.
“The soup boiled over. While I was trying to get it off the eye, it splashed everywhere- all over the stove, the counter, and the floor. After I cleaned it up I tried to wash the pot, but it was so heavy that I dropped it on my foot.”
Pfff, you didn’t REALLY think I’d have come all this way only to back down at the literal eleventh hour? No sir! We Fulmer women are tougher than that.
And guess what?
She buys it, hook, line, and sinker.
Actually, she even helps my story along. I contradicted myself a few times but she put it off on the sheer terror of the moment or something like that.
When I finally finish to her satisfaction, Karen (who knows the truth) puts the finishing touch on the whole scam:
“So basically, you dropped the pot because you let your temper get the best of you.”
Ah, I’ve trained them well, haven’t I?
And somehow, in that moment, everything becomes plain.
I tell Mother that the student asked to come over at about 6:15.
She leaves right at 6:15, which means everyone should be here by the time she gets back.
The girls and I jump into action, folding blankets, throwing pillows around, putting out soup, and generally freaking out.
I hear Mother pull in just as I get a text from one of the guests:
I’m here with a carload. Where should we park?
As I try to figure out what to do, Mother walks in with our student, saying,
“There’s someone out there in a car… I wonder who it is?”
Thankfully, Mother is so confused she doesn’t question how I can jump out of the chair and tell her “I’ll take care of it!”
She just nods and goes to change out of her sweatpants, because our student is dressed nicely.
Everyone is here!
The girls and I get everyone into the kitchen. They’re in the perfect position to be hidden from Mother.
Then we wait for the guest of honor.
Yeah, honestly, sometimes I think about saying that. Sometimes.
Finally, I run back to the other side of the house and cautiously ask the closed closet door, “Um… Mother, are you… coming?”
I’m worried about that, because-
I walk slowly back to the kitchen. Still awkward.
Then, finally, the moment arrives. Mother comes through the door and sees first one, then another, and then another of her new friends.
Her smile gets bigger and bigger and the girls and I trade looks.
We know it’s been worth every stressful moment and then some.
This, this, is what I wanted to give my mother for her birthday.
Because she is one of the most amazing people God ever created and she isn’t thanked enough. Because she deserves this.
Because I love her.