I wasn’t planning to write a Mother’s Day post. Today’s post was supposed to be about ramps, but ramps will have to wait. Mother’s Day is a more timely subject, and one that I shamefully didn’t prioritize.
It’s not that I don’t love Mother’s Day, I do. But I tend to get excited about it on actual day itself, when at 11AM, someone in the house (not a child) says “oh crap, it’s Mother’s Day.” Then I start to scheme about all of the wonderful things that are heading my way….a late afternoon nap perhaps, or a 7:30PM bedtime with a good book.
I hope that my lax attitude towards Mother’s Day doesn’t sound harsh. I’m certainly not an old curmudgeon who goes about disparaging Valentine’s Day and the rest of the Hallmark holidays. If I’m to be completely honest, I’m equally forgetful about anniversaries. Rodney and I are often shocked to see a bouquet of flowers show up in our apartment every November, courtesy of my mother, who doesn’t forget these things.
But here’s the thing about forgetting communal holidays. It’s much better if it’s forgotten until the end of the day. At which point you realize the error of your ways, have some celebratory Champagne, and head to bed happy and a little drunk.
The worst time to remember is mid-morning, when you feel compelled to do something about it outside of the home.
Which is how, two years ago, we ended up at McDonald’s.
Not my first choice either, but here are the facts: 1) we were staying at the lake for the weekend where there are only 1-2 decent restaurants, decent meaning not McDonald’s, 2) everyone within a 15 mile radius goes hunting and gathering for a table at one of said restaurants, and 3) McDonald’s was right around the corner.
Based on my food and recipes, you may have presumed by now that I’m more skilled in the kitchen than a McDonald’s fry cook. Which isn’t a fair comparison, because it’s possible that he’s a talented chef who’s butting up against the chronic and debilitating constraints imposed by McDonald’s corporate.
But the point is this: my food tends to be better than what you’ll find at your neighborhood Golden Arches. Meaning that we could have gone back to our house, tails between our legs, and prepared a splendid brunch of Eggs Benedict, plump sausages, and blood orange mimosas. But that would be admitting defeat.
So rather than making me do all of that wonderful gruntwork which would have had me humming The Sound of Music all morning, Rodney suggested that we go to McDonald’s. Because, you know, the kids are hungry and we should probably find somewhere quickly before tectonic plates shift, the ground opens up, and world disintegrates into a smoking heap of ashes.
McDonald’s is one of those “in the case of an emergency, break glass” kinds of places. And I suppose that hungry kids = emergency, although in my highly trained medical opinion, treatment should have included a return to the house STAT for some whole grain crackers and a yogurt squeezers while I did the Sound of Music thing.
But I didn’t plead my case. At the time I was sensitive about becoming too militant about food. Rodney and I had just gotten over a disagreement – argument? – lover’s spat about his purchase of the wrong kind of Parmesan cheese. I’m trying hard not to get into naggy wife territory, we’re still too young for that.
We parked the car behind the Drive-Thru, walked inside and took our place in line. When we got up to the counter, the kids requested some fried extruded pink slime (aka chicken nuggets), and I ordered a Filet o’ Fish.
After we ordered, we weaved through the clinical-smelling air to find ourselves a sunlit table in the back of the restaurant. The kids opened their red boxes and dug into their Happy Meals. What joy on their little faces. McDonald’s is a wonderful place if you’re under the age of 5.
Halfway through our meal, Rodney made a quick trip to the bathroom and came back to report that the toilets were leaking.
Bathroom leakage isn’t typical Mother’s Day brunch conversation, but he seemed to be generally concerned that it was starting to flood. I suggested that he report it to the manager, which he did, and that’s how we ended up brunching next to a Shop-Vac.
The manager and his clean up crew switched it on and started pumping liquid out of the bathroom. The major setback at this point was the noise.
“THIS BURGER’S NOT HALF BAD!”
The problem is that Shop-Vacs have heavyweight exhaust fans: they suction stuff in, blow air out. That’s the technical definition anyway. All of a sudden the first wave of hot air blasted past our table. It imparted the type of rancid raw sewage smell that you might experience while making the surprising discovery of a neglected pigsty.
That was it and I pulled the ripcord on Mother’s Day brunch. I’ll admit to having pretty high standards when it comes to my food, but generally speaking, I can go with the flow. I’ve willingly eaten shish-kebob from New York City street vendors. I’ve eaten like the locals do in beachside taquerias in Mexico. But this was a new low.
And I supposed that we needed that in our relationship. A low so low that every Mother’s Day from that point on – even those that are completely forgotten – will be exalted as a victory.
Fast track to this year. A few days before Mother’s Day I found myself ducking into a little French bakery to buy myself some macarons: Pink Champagne and Caramel Fleur de Sel. An impulse buy, but I was in the neighborhood, why not.
I brought them home, and feeling a little guilty about my soon-to-be nosedive into some decadent afternoon sweets, made myself a huge salad for lunch. I filled it with beautiful Spring-like things – thinly sliced watermelon radishes, snap peas, and bok choi microgreens. Thirsty, I poured myself a glass of cold sparkling water, and garnished it with a slice of lemon. I sat down, put any distractions to the side, and dug in.
I was halfway through my lunch when I realized that holy mother of macarons, it was Mother’s Day! It just came a few days early this year.
So whether you’re eating breakfast at home, celebrating somewhere where they take reservations (lucky you), or surviving McDonald’s, I hope that you’re having a brilliant day. It’s a day to celebrate all of the hard work, love and dedication that goes into being a mom. Our work isn’t always appreciated, so bask in the sunshine while you can. And when someone offers you that glass of Champagne at the end of the night, drink it down and ask for another. You’ve earned it sister.
- ¼ cup of sour cream
- 2 Tablespoons of red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup of good olive oil
- Salt & pepper
- 1 bunch of butter lettuce, washed, dried and torn into pieces
- 1 large handful of sugar snap peas, washed and dried (you don’t even have to remove the tiny strings at the end, it’s all edible)
- 1 small watermelon radish, washed, outer layer peeled, and thinly sliced (you’ll need about 6-10 slices, which depending on the size of your radish, may not use the whole vegetable)
- 1 small handful of bok choi, radish, pea, or any other kind of microgreen/shoot
- In a large bowl, whisk the sour cream, vinegar, and mustard until well-blended.
- While whisking, slowly pour the oil into the dressing to emulsify. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add the lettuce, snap peas, and radish slices along with half of the bok choi greens.
- Toss gently to mix the salad, and plate on a wide plate.
- Garnish the top with the remaining bok choi microgreens and serve.