Mother Is a Verb

On Sunday many countries celebrated Mothers’ Day. I wondered how to write about this occasion without using the worn-out story, (no matter how delicious), of how the kids brought take-out food and we ate, wearing our jackets and sitting 2 meters apart, on the patio. Then I read an article in a local newspaper, with the intriguing title Mother Is a Verb. Being a former English teacher, I was captivated by the concept. In other words, Mother is not a state of being; it’s a state of doing.

Ask any mother, or grandmother, and you will get a resounding “yes!” Think of all that mothers do. I’ll tell you a few of my favorites:

Cooking: I went to great lengths to get the kids involved in meal preparations. One of my concerns was getting them to eat vegetables. But they had fun making a snack called Ants On a Log. I would stuff celery with cream cheese or peanut butter. Then they would add ants, aka raisins, on top. Celery – yuck. But they Loved the idea of eating ants and logs.

Cleaning: There was plenty of that, especially clothes with chocolate stains, or muddy floors from boots that had been in every puddle on the block. But the most fun were the forts made from living room furniture. After all that construction, they were hungry and needed to eat. In the fort. They raided the kitchen. And mom cleaned up the Mess Hall.

Creating: Every October we had a discussion about what creatures they wanted to be on Hallowe’en. Then I would go looking for patterns and material and sew them up. At first they asked for simple things like ghosts and witches. But then they got fussier. One year Jennifer wanted to be Miss Piggy – with blond hair, a snout, and a bustle, in purple. Another year James wanted to be a jailbird. We managed to find striped black and white material for the outfit, but he wanted a ball and chain too! Maybe he should have kept it on…

When James was about 16, he committed a misdemeanor, forgotten after all these years, and he was grounded for the weekend. He protested loudly; time spent with his peers was top of mind. On Friday night right after dinner he began complaining about how unfair this punishment was. He protested until almost midnight when he finally stomped off to bed.

The second night, Saturday, he had a different attitude. He began yawning around 9:30 and finally, about 11:00, he headed for his bedroom with almost a lilt in his step. There was no complaining. This mother’s ears perked up. Alarm bells went off. When there were no more sounds coming from his bedroom, I tiptoed upstairs. I didn’t want to wake him.

And there, in his room, were pillows simulating a body under the covers, the curtains were open, and the window a tiny bit ajar. James was nowhere in sight. Looking out his window, I realized just how handy that big tree was. James was gone for the night. I brushed my teeth, climbed into his bed, and fell asleep.

A while later, turned out it was 3:00 am, he climbed back up the tree and through the window. As he turned on the light, I rose from his bed, like a ghost, and asked: “SOOO…where were YOU?” He looked so startled that I was afraid he might need to change his underwear. It was the best Mom trick ever!

It turns out that Mother is not only a verb; it’s also an adjective…sneaky.


7 thoughts on “Mother Is a Verb

  1. Wow! Talk about creative mothering. Did you really use shock therapy on James? LOL I am so impressed. Everyone should have such a strong yet compassionate mother. Your stories always inspire memories. I hope you don’t mind me sharing…

    We were latchkey kids. My mother came home and caught me lighting string on the stove (a few months before that I lit and accidentally tipped over a lit jack-o-lantern in our flat, a fire that Stella, our landlady had to put out). That is probably why my mother wound the string around my hand and threatened to light it. I fell to my knees and begged her not to. It was not the cure, because I caused a fire with my chemistry set many years later when my grandmother was visiting. We carried it to the bathroom in the garbage pail.

    Having opted out of parenthood myself, it befell me to visit motherhood with a feisty boy called True, whose father was an artist/writer/musician…the last man in my life. Over five years, I was able to provide True with boundaries, mostly in fun ways. But once, when I took him out on the toboggan and he refused to turn for home, I told him that right about this time of evening, the wolves come out. It worked.

    Thank-you, Sue! I really look forward to your blogs.


  2. To dissuade my children from tasting prepackaged snacks their little friends loved, I secretly put some pepper on the top… It worked!!! Never again whining for snacks!


  3. Love your Mother’s Day memories. Thanks for jogging my memory on stories I can share with my girls. Happy times for all of us to cherish.


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