Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My Mum

Now, strictly speaking, the title is okay even though it would have to be "my mum" if in a sentence. Although I did stop to consider proper capitalization before posting this.

Never mind.

It is Mom's birthday today, which again is being lumped together with mine (meaning we're celebrating on the same day), a fact that has become so normal that I've almost stopped wondering if she minds it at all.

Because our birthdays are exactly one week apart, all my life it has been considered prudent to buy/make one cake instead of two, get one fancy dinner out (instead of two), and throw one party (again, instead of two). Because I have and will always be the younger, the birthday the party was thrown on was always mine.

Mom always claimed she didn't really care about her birthday anymore, anyway, and said I should just have fun at my party. Yes, she always called it my party. Although usually the "party" was the whole family, except my dad, crowded into my gran's too-small kitchen while we all yelled so Gran could hear that it was time for cake.

But now that we are all older, I try very hard to make sure that Mom's birthday is a big deal too. Even though that is hard.


Because Mom is someone that is chronically self-sacrificing. Ask her if she wants another peice of cake, she'll interpret it as "I want that peice of cake" and moments later it will be swooped down in front of you. To your shock. Take her out to dinner as a treat and you will have to be on constant surveillance to keep her from trying to pay, split the bill, or take care of the tip. Ask her what she wants for her birthday; she'll say "anything you think of will be lovely," or "I don't need a present, Laura."


Also the trouble is our training. Mom has instilled it in our brains that presents should be given early, the earlier the better. Because it's more fun that way.

So this year, the present I wanted to get her was one I'd have to order, so I wanted to see if she liked it. Here's how the conversation went.

Act One, Scene One: Paul's Bedroom
Laura and Julie sitting at computer
Props: Computer (Paul's PC), Images of Knitting Case

Laura: Mom, what do you think of this?" [Laura displays an image on her computer monitor of a nifty little knitting notion case from Namaste (the Buddy Case, Cali collection)]

Julie: Oh, that looks nice, Laura.

L: What color do you like?

J: You should get any color you like.

L: Well, which would you choose?

J: They all look lovely.

L: All of them?

J: Yes.

L: Even the gray one?

J: Well, maybe not that one.

L: So what colors do you especially like?

J: All of them.

L: What would you choose for you?

J: Oh, I don't know. How expensive are they?

L: I'm not telling you to buy one, Mom; I'm asking what color you would buy if you ever decided to get one.

J: I don't think I would.

L: So you don't like them?

J: Oh, I love them. One of those would be lovely.

L: So just pick a color for fun, something you would like.

J: The one under the purple one, the olive. That's very nice. But you should get the one you like.

L: [Frustrated] No, Mom. This is for your birthday. It won't get here in time, but it will be your birthday present, so you should pick the color.

J: [Gushes]Oh, really? My birthday? I'd love the olive one!

L: Okay, I'll tell Kathy and she'll order it.

[Enter Kelly, Laura's Father, Julie's Husband]

Kelly: Jul, can you iron this shirt for me, for tomorrow?

[Stage Lights Down, All Exit]

Act One, Scene Two, One Week Later:

Enter Laura, Stage Left. Julie is seated Stage Right, knitting.
Props: Knitting, Armchair, Sensible Shoes, Freaky Green Pencil Case.

Julie: Laura, I tried to call you today.

Laura: I was at work, Mom. [Laura takes off sensible shoes]

J: I know, but I thought I would try. I was at Walmart and I saw these cases that reminded me of the ones you were showing me. See? [Brandishes pencil case]

L: [Warily] Oh, that's nice.

J: Yes, I was going to get you one two, but I didn't know if you wanted one.

L: Really?

J: So I didn't.

L: Okay.

J: So if you want one, you can go pick one out.

L: Sure. I'll look at them next time I'm out.

[All Exit]

Act One, Scene Three, One Week Later: KitchenLaura and Julie Cooking Dinner, slicing tomato, ect. Ad Lib.

Julie: Paul was asking for birthday ideas.

Laura: Oh?

Julie: And Kathy said she'd put in your order. What order.

L: You know, the case from before.

J: Case?

L: The one you picked.

J: What?

L: The green one. For your birthday.

J: Huh?

L: The case I made you choose. Your birthday present.

J: Awww! You got me one of those? [Hugs Laura] That's wonderful! That will be so much better than that horrid thing I got at Walmart. That really is dreadful. Everything falls out every which way and rattles around inside! I really did want one of those!

[Laura, having ruined the surprise of her mother's birthday present not once but twice, gives in and smiles, giving her mother another hug. Scene.]

So, I went to Barnes and Nobles and found a movie Mom and I had watched when I was in junior high, and I knew it would bring the surprise back. I bought it, wrapped it, and went about decorating it creatively to please my mother.

Paul later got Mom a birthday present only to give it to her four days early, the same day he purchased it.

I made it all the way to the day before Mom's birthday, giving her the secret present before she went to sleep that night, at midnight, because I knew I'd have to wait all day otherwise and I didn't want to.

The Buddy Case is still in transit.

So, Mom, you crack me up, I love you, and happy birthday! I hope you have a fantastic one, even though I am all the way in Wabash and not a single breath of air has made it through my nose in the last eight hours. Well, the last 36 hours.

I'll try not to hyper-ventillate as I sing to you later on. No ER trip this year! That's a streak we don't want to break (24 years and counting! For me, anyway).

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