Mother’s Day has always been one of the big three Spring events that loom large in the restaurant business, and loom even larger in the bar business. Mother’s Day, Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby all come rapidly and in an order subject to various factors, up to and including that two of the three can overlap. Cinco and the Derby can fall on the same day, but Mother’s Day and the rest cannot. Probably for good reason.
This Mother’s Day group had already began assembling at the bar. A young mother cradled a newborn and an older woman looked on lovingly. If one had to guess, it looked like three generations were being represented. Two mothers; a great grand one, and the newest mother, and even perhaps a future mother, now a child. Magic moments like these make up the restaurant business. Food is such an important part of our lives that most celebrations revolve around it, especially if someone else is making it.
Great grandmother nursed her Ramos Fizz, a concoction that screams motherhood with its eggs and cream (it’s gin might be another matter). Meanwhile the new mother sipped a Mimosa, resplendent with its Spring ensemble of carbonation and fresh orange newly arrived in season, only, and ironically, this one was “virgin,” just soda water with a splash of orange juice. If we can’t participate in the alcohol itself, sometimes the ritual alone will suffice.
The group had arrived on time for their reservation. All except one. And as is the policy with most restaurants, incomplete parties aren’t sat. The reasoning being, if someone is 45 minutes late, their party won’t start without them, and in three-quarters of an hour, another party can come and go. It is simple economics.
And it bore out well with this party because their last arriving member was over 50 minutes late. Usually when late people arrive, they apologize. But not always. Sometimes they blame.
And it was with blame that Mom blew into the room. It was her husband’s fault, the cars’ fault, the traffic lights, the parking lot, and finally the restaurants’. It was all some sort of grand conspiracy. A conspiracy that involved several inanimate objects, a couple of large organizations, and a few disconnected people, all of which rendered an apology unnecessary.
“Hello Mom,” said the new mother kissing her on the cheek, oddly in the same way she had kissed her newborn twenty minutes before, when that newborn had begun to cry.
“Daughter, “said great grandmother before returning to her Ramos Fizz.
“Did you see that?” whispered Mom to her own daughter.
“She didn’t mean anything Mom; she was just saying hello.”
Now another conspiracy surfaced, involving the great grandmother and everyone else present. This went on for about 10 minutes. Looks, comments, and even physical placement were all a part of a big plot. A plot for what was still yet unclear.
“You are all ruining my Mother’s Day!” Mom practically shouted first at her family and then at the hostess, who had the unfortunate task of telling the party it would be a few more minutes for their table to be ready. I guess that being an hour late for a reservation on a major holiday was supposed to be simply overlooked.
The manager came over, but scurried away moments later, realizing perhaps that there was no fixing something that would stymie even a team of therapists.
Two mothers did their best to salvage a situation, but one mother wouldn’t have it. Mom heard blame in every utterance which was ironic because no blame was offered, even though plenty was warranted.
Eventually Mom stormed off. One would have expected someone to follow her. But there’s a saying, “Going to the well once too often,” that seemed particularly relevant.
The hostess collected the party, minus one, and ushered them to the table. Mom was not among them.
Moments later a young woman approached the bar.
“There’s a crying woman locked in the bathroom,” said the young woman. “She is saying that her family has abandoned her. On Mother’s Day of all days.”
Leaving me with these thoughts:
-Don’t always believe every story you hear. Not at least until you’ve heard both sides.
-Some mothers believe Mother’s Day is just for them. In one sense it is, but that is also true for all the other Mothers out there too.
-When someone cannot take responsibility, they are usually quite good at assigning blame.
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” wrote Leo Tolstoy in 1877’s “Anna Karenina,” 37 years before the first official Mother’s Day.
-All mothers deserve their happy Mother’s Day, even the broken ones. And perhaps especially, those that are the children of the broken ones.