The other day, my mother called me like she always does. She calls every day. She calls to tell me what she’s doing, or to tell me about her day, or to tell me the latest deal in the grocery store. She calls about anything and everything. She talks away in rapid-fire Spanish and really, minimum input is required on my part. The occasional, “Mmm hmm,” one or two yeses and some listening sounds are sometimes my only contribution.
The other day, she called and talked to me about certain bathroom renovation plans. I half-listened while making soup.
“… No se como va a salir pero por ahora va bien la cosa. A ver si viene el Martes y asi empezamos a ver como va a funcionar…”(“… I don’t know how it’ll turn out but for now it’s all going well. If he comes over on Tuesday then we’ll start to see how things will work…“)
Suddenly her voice dropped away and there was a muffled sound.
“Hello?” I asked, alarmed. “Mama?”
“Ah, no pasa nada, es solo que…” (“Ah no everything is fine, it’s just…“) Another pause followed, and then suddenly, at the end of the phone, in English, “Hello! Where deed you cam from?”
I frowned, wooden spoon held aloft. “Mama?”
“No, no te hablo a ti,” (“No, I’m not talking to you“) she said. No kidding, I thought. She continued, “Es el perro del vecino, que se ha escapado.”(“It’s the neighbour’s dog, he’s escaped.“)
I nodded thoughtfully and placed the wooden spoon back in the pot to give the soup a half-hearted stir.
Another muffled sound.
“Do you wan to go hom? Weel I take you hom?”
More muffled sounds.
“Es el perrito del vecino, es muy mono, es que a veces se escapa. Ahora le traigo a casa.”(“It’s the neighbour’s little dog, he’s very cute. Sometimes he gets out. I’ll bring him home now.“)
A pause, and then, away from the mouthpiece, “Cam on, I take you hom.”
My eyes rolled to the ceiling as I considered the fact that my mother 1. was talking to the dog as if he might answer, 2. obviously believes the dog speaks English, and 3. also believes that the dog can somehow tell the difference between English and Spanish. I started to laugh then, softly at first and then harder and harder until I was doubled over against the counter. My mother, unaware of what I was laughing at, started laughing too. We laughed together over the phone; me, her, my spoon and the neighbour’s dog.
“Que? De que te ries?” She kept asking.
Yesterday was Mother’s Day.
I had a very different post lined up for today; an intensely personal post with mixed feelings and some fury that I wrote a while ago after a particularly bad day. I was feeling frustrated and upset and keyed-up and disappointed and angry and basically every kind of negative emotion that can be bundled into one moment. Sometimes Mother-Daughter relationships aren’t the stuff of most Mother’s Day cards. Every year I spend a long time looking through the card aisle before I can find one that is appropriate. I love my mother; she’s my mother. It’s just… complicated.
So on this, the day after Mother’s Day, I decided to share this moment instead, because that’s how she is. That’s how we are.
At least sometimes.
Happy Belated Mother’s Day to all of you out there who are mothers. Odd mothers, wonderful mothers, hardworking mothers. I hope you had a lovely day.