The One Hundred-and-Twenty-Eighth Chart

May 16, 2014

By Ekta R. Garg

(Enjoy this special Mother’s Day recap, readers!)

Seven started school at age 2, when she began a preschool program three days a week after Five was born. Later, when Five reached the same age she joined her sister at the same preschool. So I’ve received Mother’s Day cards from the kids for the last five years. I’ve gotten a variety of handprints with sappy poetry that made me tear up, handmade flowers with the kids’ pictures in them, and magnets with their faces. I knew the girls really didn’t understand the concept of Mother’s Day those first few years, and that didn’t really bother me. I was still swept away by the idea that they were giving me anything on this day at all.

I guess I was swept away by the idea of parenthood period.

But this year the girls really got it. They fully understood what Mother’s Day is and why we celebrate it. And I’d heard hints since the beginning of the month about what would come my way this past Sunday.

On Friday both girls got in the car after school bearing brown paper bags. Five’s bag had a large sign that read “No peeking, Mom!” Seven’s bag, smaller, featured a fountain of purple tissue paper.

They’d piqued my curiosity. I had a few guesses about the gifts, but they still managed to keep their surprises intact. And even though I had ample opportunity to do so, I obeyed the instructions. I didn’t peek.

When Sunday morning came, the girls woke me up with bounces on the bed. Okay, so not exactly the ideal way to get up on a day designated for personal pampering, but I tried to remember that they were the reason I could celebrate in the first place. As we all lay in bed, my husband suggested we go to Indianapolis for the day.

Before we left that morning, however, the kids gave me their gifts. Seven handed me her bag first, and I pulled out a pair of marigolds she’d grown in a plastic cup. She also presented me with two cards she’d made, and I admired her artwork and the sweet note she’d written.

Five came with her larger bag, and inside I found a mini picnic basket. The accompanying poem told me that she had given me a picnic for two: two water bottles (one large, one small,) two bags of chips, and two blueberry muffins. Apparently she and her classmates had all worked together to make muffins to go in everyone’s baskets, and I got to hear all about how she and the girls added the blueberries and the boys got to stir. Five also had a pair of mini marigolds wilting slightly in their planter after two days inside the paper bag.

Because the girls are old enough to understand families, their own birth order, and Mother’s Day itself, this year I got to share with each of them something special of my own. As I helped Seven get ready after her shower, I told her that because she was the older child I had gotten to celebrate this day first with her and she would always be special to me for that reason.

A little while later I gave Five a big hug and told her that she was my baby, and for that reason she would always be special to me. She hugged me back and smiled a little shyly. She’s at that point where she goes back and forth between wanting to be a baby and be a big girl. So I really do cherish the “baby” moments.

We went to Indy and had a lovely time. The kids managed to go through stores fairly patiently as we shopped for a graduation present for someone and then (on my husband’s insistence) for a gift for myself. When we went for frozen yogurt, they compromised on mixing flavors in a single cup. And they listened attentively on the way home as I read aloud to them from the new book Northwood by Brian Falkner.

Seven and Five have finally entered that life stage where we can really enjoy these moments together. And when we do—when we go out and exclaim over funny-looking purses or exclaim breathily over expensive necklaces in jewelry stores—I can enjoy their discoveries with them. They still enjoy making Mother’s Day gifts and cards, and I appreciate it so much. I know we’re not too far from the day when I’ll get a semi eye roll and a half mumbled, “Love you” as they shuffle away.

The thing I think I enjoyed the most this year, though, came in their most precious recollection from Sunday. After all that work to grow the flowers, make the muffins, and create their cards, the girls really felt a sense of accomplishment. When we drove to school on Monday, they talked about how much they enjoyed going out for Mother’s Day.

“My favorite part was the ice cream,” Seven said.

“Yeah,” Five agreed. “Remember how we put all the flavors in the same cup? I liked mixing them together.”

“Yeah, that was awesome.”

And thanks to three flavors of frozen yogurt in one container, I know they’ll remember this Mother’s Day for years to come.

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