Tuesday, May 14, 2024

A Catastrophe on Mother’s Day

Top Row (left to right): Indy, Trey, Sky, Ruby

Bottom Row (left to right): me and Mike



Mother’s Day has historically been a tough day for me because something catastrophic always seems to happen. From my youngest kids unlocking a childproof window—and getting onto the roof—to a blowup raft popping halfway down the river, the list goes on and on. This Mother’s Day was no exception.


Everyone came to our house that afternoon, and for the first time in years, I thought we’d evaded catastrophe. To give some background, I’d asked my kids to clean our home instead of getting gifts for me. They actually loved this idea, and just like “Game of Thrones,” it went great until the very end. 

“I gotta sit,” I said. I’d done much more than I should have. The problem is that cancer and treatments are exhausting. My body is fighting so hard just to live that sometimes adding anything else is too much. I suddenly thought about death and how doctors keep saying melanoma will kill me within the next few years. My biggest desire now is to simply have more time with my husband and our kids. I don’t worry about money, travel, accomplishments, degrees, material excess, or promotions. I just want TIME. This is because I want the people I love to have good memories of me, and I desperately HOPE they’ll look back and say, “Hey, Mom was a great person. She really loved me.” But I don’t feel like the memories I’ve made so far are enough. Not really…

These thoughts hit so hard in that moment; I could’ve started crying. But I told myself to PULL. IT. TOGETHER. My kids had come to do something nice. They didn’t need to see me cry about cancer. 

“Mama, it’s Mother’s Day,” Ruby said. “You shouldn’t be doing anything. Go rest.”

“I’ll sit here,” I said, pulling out chair, and that’s when the day turned like a bad gallon of milk.

While Trey sprayed off the back patio, Ruby’s dog laid a massive load on the floor. I don’t like dog poop on a good day, but this was the mother of all poops—which makes sense on Mother’s Day. Anyway… Right after the poo landed, that’s when the basement flooded.

I felt so shocked that you could’ve picked my jaw off the gross floor. My fists clenched as hot tears filled my eyes. And although some people claim I look like a prude, that gigantic dog-poo river made me swear like Samuel L. Jackson. What in the f-ing f-er.” A piece of poo floated toward my shoe, bobbing left and right. “Are you f-ing kidding me? Jesus—”

"Is lord?" my youngest daughter interjected, and I’m sure my face turned the color of crushed tomatoes. But it was petty witty; that kid can make anything better, brighter. And I slowly deflated a little. “Mama,” she said, “we're gonna get this figured out." Indy reached out and held my hand. “We’re gonna be okay because we have each other. AND we have towels.” She laughed.

"Turn off the hose," I yelled to Trey. 

"What the..." Ruby walked into the room, and as another poo boat sailed onward, she looked whiter than Edward Cullen. “Artemis!!!” She yelled for her dog. “Artemis!!!”

"Mike," I nearly whimpered. I’d quickly gone from the swearing stage to victim mentality. Why was this happening? Why couldn’t I just have one nice Mother’s Day? ONE! “Mike…” But he'd escaped to his favorite store in the world: Ace. (What is it with men and Ace? Mike goes there multiple times a day—and I’m not even kidding.)

I shoved several towels to the floor as the kids went to get more. In that moment, I realized Ruby's dog had stayed by me. You know how infants smile when they’re farting? Well, Ruby’s dog did that! She practically smiled, creepy A.F., frolicking in the mess AND farting with every step. What in the heck had she been eating? "Go outside! This isn't fun. Artemis. Now!" I love that dog, but what in the poo?!

"Why did this happen?" Indy asked. "We were doing so well for Mother's Day."

"A pipe must've busted when it froze in the winter. It only flooded when the back hose was on. Mike'll find it. If he knows how to find anything, it's expensive wine and any excuse to visit Ace.” Now he could go back and get a new pipe.

Trey deposited some towels on the floor, and as he bent over, Ruby’s dog darted past in a gas cloud. Water shot everywhere, and I'm still not sure how, but a huge splash of poo-water hit Trey in the mouth and chin. My kids and I stared at each other. None of us dared move except Artemis. She wagged her tail, that sadistic jerk. That's when Trey wailed like a banshee. "Why??? Why???” He stared at the water sloshing by his feet. “This… THIS is THE WORST Mother's Day I've ever had."

Sky and Indy laughed so hard, wheezing, but I hurled myself toward the bathroom, trying to find mouthwash, rubbing alcohol, baby wipes—anything. When I returned, Sky held a bottom of hand sanitizer over Trey's mouth. "Gargle with this. Okay?"

Ruby and I looked at each other, horrified. “You're gonna kill him.” I bellowed.” OH. My… Jesus—"

"Is lord," Indy blurted as I knocked the sanitizer to the ground like a live grenade.

After using every SINGLE towel we own and two tattered blankets, we cleaned up the water. It wasn't until dinnertime that we talked and laughed. The kids brought up previous Mother's Day disasters, laughing so hard. "Remember when that raft popped, and mom fell in that hole in the river?" Trey asked.

"That was hilarious!" Sky said. “Or the time we went to Lake Powell and the Coast Guard had to come rescue us because of that storm!” It was terrifying in the moment, but I had to admit, we’ve made some absolutely hilarious memories.

"You're such a good mom," Ruby said out of nowhere, and then Mike and the kids each brought up a different memory they love about me. And not even knowing my worries or how all I want is for them to remember me well, what my kids gave me this Mother’s Day was a lot more than a clean house. They gave me peace that even if I die tomorrow, my life has been enough. Although I’m incredibly flawed, somehow they think that I’m enough. And that is one of the most valuable gifts I’ve ever received. Poo water and all, that was a day I wouldn’t change for the world.

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