mother tell your children not to hold my hand/ tell your children not to understand

I spent much of Mothers Day with my own mother, husband, and two children. We took a roadtrip up to Oly and I bought fabric – a series of lovely deep colors in a rayon/linen blend, destination: dresses for my daughter who is already far grown out of the frocks I sewed her only months ago. We had hot dogs and lemonade at the park and watched a tremendous number of kids race through the play fountain. My kids finally cajoled my own mother into the fountain herself where she was blasted with water. They joy on the faces of all three was pretty awesome.

I’m not exactly sure why but Olympia is a lot “whiter” than my hometown, where the day before we’d spent a solid chunk of time at the travelling carnival. About forty percent of the attendants were Latino and the rest predominantly white with the smattering and all-encompassing racial makeup that benefits our locale. In both outdoor excursions it was rather soothing to spend a couple days amongst a surge of people. I have a theory that in the Northwest we get so desperate for sunny weather we’re out the minute one could decently call it spring. At the carnival Ralph and I adopted our new policy: buying the kids the $20 (apiece) bracelets that allow them to go on as many rides as they want as much as they want. This means we get no cotton candy or elephant ears which is probably just as well. For rides, my kids favored the fun house (I think it was called Ghost Party and looked not-even-remotely spooky) and the – oh I forget the name, back in the 90s it was called the Gravitron. Sophie even went on the Bonzai Bomber, the most ambitious stomach-turner they had to offer. I watched her from below. Carnival lights in the gloaming, it’s somehow wretchedly beautiful.

We had my mom over for Mothers Day dinner – slow-roasted beef on french rolls with au jus, corn on the cob, roasted tomatoes, fried zucchini. I gifted my mother a watercolor print of the columbine flower and an actual specimen in a pot – it’s a bloom she loves. I hadn’t known what else to get her as she really is lacking for little. In years past I would have bought her yards of fabric or some other material good, but I know she feels crunched for time and the last time I bought her supplies (luxurious yarn and bamboo needles) she never touched it and I ended up knitting her the socks myself – two years later. I know she likes hanging prints on her walls and she’s quite the joyful gardener. Columbine, a beautiful and delicate flower, it matches her nature. I had purchased her a (non-Hallmark) card a year ago, knowing the artwork on the card was a perfect fit – saving it for now. Inside I wrote:

Mom, You’ve been a wonderful grandmother. Our family is blessed to have you.  I have thought it was a happy side-effect that when we moved down to Hoquiam to be closer to dad in his last years/months/days, you were given the opportunity to know my family and experience life with young children again.  Your pesence in our lives goes beyond that of “babysitter” or a doting presence.  Instead you are instrumental and an integral part of our family.  So many families do not get to experience this.  Thank you for your care and friendship.

Are we supposed to write mushier sentiments to our loved ones? Well, I try to be accurate which often sounds decidedly non-demonstrative. I think on my wedding day I tried to give my husband a chuck on the shoulder rather than french kiss him in front of all those people.

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