Mother’s Day and Muffin Tops

Short essay written for Little Rock Family magazine in May 2013. Original post here.

Mother’s Day is coming, and with it the slew of amenities aimed at letting us mothers know how deeply loved and appreciated we are: candy, flowers, massages, spa treatments. And while most mothers I know would find any or all of the above enjoyable, what we really crave is much simpler: knowing that we are doing something right. We want to be good mothers, we try to do what’s best, but most of the time we are convinced on some level that we are completely missing the mark.

On any given day in my mothering career, my feelings toward my children can include: unpreparedness, bewilderment, irritation, astonishment and outrage. I’m pretty sure I felt all of them at once the day my son turned toward me in the car as we sat at a stoplight, and in the gentlest of voices said, “Mom? I think you have a muffin top.” He patted the bulge at my waistline for effect.

To be fair, this child is the baby of the family, in a family who greatly enjoys what we call ‘the funny.’ The competition for laughs at the Jones house is fierce, and to that end, sometimes we make mistakes. We overstep the boundaries of common sense. His older brother and sister knew immediately, shrieking “you do NOT say that to mom!” You might notice, as I did, that they correct the appropriateness of the statement, not argue with the existence of said top.

By the time my husband got home, the story of the muffin top had reached mythological proportions. All three children reenacted the scene, and trying heroically not to guffaw, my husband pulled my son away to another room to talk to him. Some time later, my youngest came upstairs with this note in his hand:

“Sorry for saying you had a muffin top. What I ment was you are beutiful. Here is what I owe you. 5.00 from fall fest.”

Did you catch that? Essentially, he said: “I’m sorry, you’re pretty, here’s some money.” It’s a bit obvious, but he’s still young. The important thing is that, no matter what he pulls from this point on, he’s got the apology down. And if he’s managed that, I think I can quit worrying. I must’ve done something right. Now, if I can just get someone to book me a massage…