Serial Celebrations

Celebration #1: Birthday

“It’s a good thing you’re coming,” I said to North as we walked out the door Saturday morning. “Because I love you and I enjoy your company, but also because I might need your help.” The point of the outing was to claim my birthday reward at Starbucks, and I sometimes have trouble figuring out how to redeem stars and rewards on the app and one kid or the other has to help me.

This time it was clear what I needed to do, however, so I didn’t need help and soon North and I were enjoying our drinks and pastries. I got a latte and a cake pop. I would have gotten the birthday cake pop because I can be literal like that, but they had a new flavor I wanted to try (orange) so I went with that. North had a nibble and said they liked it better than the pineapple cake they got. I tried North’s berry-flavored bubble tea, and I thought it tasted like cotton candy.

I left North sitting outside Starbucks while I walked several blocks to the library to return The Scarlet Letter, which I had just read for book club, and then I returned. On our way home we dropped off some children’s books at a Little Free Library. I am still distributing the books the kids culled from their rooms back in March. The supply in the cardboard box in the living room is slowly dwindling. It felt like a very productive morning walk.

After lunch, Noah and I read The Interestings, and then we all enjoyed the strawberry cake with lemon frosting Beth made at my request. (I remembered the lemon frosting on North’s birthday cake and how good it was.) It was excellent as Beth’s cakes always are.

I opened a couple presents—two kinds of nut butter from my sister (pistachio and lemon-cashew-coconut) and an Oberlin hoodie from Beth. I’d been saying for about a year that when North chose a college, I would replace the rather worse-for-the-wear WVU hoodie I’d been wearing since North was in kindergarten with one from their new alma mater. (Many members of Beth’s family went to WVU, and it was a present from her mom.) Earlier in the week I’d opened a card from Beth’s mom informing me a tree was being planted in a national forrest in my name. The kids got me one big gift for my birthday and Mother’s Day combined, and I’d elected to open it the next day. My birthday is always near Mother’s Day and this year it was the day before, so my birthday was just the first act of the weekend festivities.

After presents Noah and I watched an episode of Angel and then we surrendered the television to North who needed to watch Thor Ragnarok for their mythology class. They’d missed movies in two classes while taking the AP English exam the week before and they had to complete assignments on both, so we’d all watched The Judge with them the night before. That one was for their law class. You know it’s almost the end of the year when the teachers start showing a lot of movies.

I talked to my mom on the phone, and she told me I had two gifts coming. She didn’t tell me what the first one was because she thought it would come soon, but the second one wasn’t going to arrive until late May. I had a pretty good idea she had pre-ordered the latest Stephen King because I’d asked for it. She confirmed my suspicion.

We went out to dinner at El Golfo. I had the spinach enchiladas, which is what I always get there, and Beth and I split a dish of chocolate mousse. They had a nice set up for people to take Mother’s Day photos. When Noah asked who would be in the picture, I said just Beth and me.

“Are you a mother? No, you are not,” I said, but North pointed out that without the kids we would not be mothers, so we took one without the offspring and one with them.

At home, we watched Grownish and then my sister called shortly before Beth and I went to bed. And the first celebration was a wrap.

Celebration #2: Mother’s Day

North asked us ahead of time if we’d like breakfast in bed for Mother’s Day and we decided to eat it at the table instead, but they did make us both breakfast to order. I had fried eggs, vegetarian sausage patties, strawberries, and Red Zinger tea. It was luxurious to have a meal cooked just for me.

North was going to spend the afternoon and evening at Maddie’s, so they asked if I’d like to watch Emily in Paris in the morning. It seemed a good idea since Noah and I had watched our show the day before. When Beth got back from grocery shopping, we opened our Mother’s Day presents from the kids. Beth got six dark chocolate bars in different flavors from the kids, and I got a new purple backpack. My old backpack, which I think I’ve had since I stopped carrying a diaper bag, is developing a hole in the bottom, so I’d asked for one. (The surprise was the color—I gave the kids several options.) I haven’t actually started using it because I have to clean out the old one and transfer all the things that I carry in it to the new one. It’s kind of a rat’s nest in there, so that will be a project.

The kids’ next project was to start prepping for dinner. I’d asked Noah if he could cook dinner, since Saturday is his night, but we’d gone out to dinner, so he had not cooked, and Sunday is Beth’s night, and it didn’t seem right for her to have to cook. He agreed and asked her what she’d like, as I had chosen the restaurant the night before. She requested the vegetarian crab cakes he’d made once before. (The main ingredients are chickpeas, artichokes, and hearts of palm blended and fried). North volunteered to help even though they wouldn’t be home to eat them, which was just as well because they don’t like them. As it turned out, both kids had evening plans, so Beth would fry the cakes herself and roast asparagus to go with them.

Once the dough was made and stowed in the fridge, and Noah and I had read a half a chapter of The Interestings, Beth and I left to take North to Maddie’s and Noah headed off to his weekly game night at a Panera in Rockville. I went with Beth and North because Beth and I were taking a walk in Brookside Gardens. While we were there, we saw a wedding party, many families on Mother’s Day outings, and group of geese with three adults and a half-dozen or so half-grown goslings.

We came home, relaxed a little, and then Beth finished preparing the not-crab cakes and we had what she deemed “a romantic dinner” for two, before snuggling on the couch to watch Abbott Elementary and The Big Door Prize. It was a nice end to a weekend in which I spent time with the whole family, and alone with my firstborn, my youngest, and with the woman who has been with me for every step of this motherhood journey.