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Best Mom in the World

May 10, 2004

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. It was the Talent Show this time around, and the performers were mostly in their mid-teens. There were bagpipes, a violin, and guitars in the mix, and that first hour passed in no time at all. Young people are so full of potential. They haven't been alive long enough to have felt really worn out and they're just so hopeful. They believe things and their voices are clear and they just throw themselves into it. I don't recall the last time I was so carefree; I do recall the first time I felt worn out. It was about a week after we brought the first baby home from the hospital -- around 2:00 in the morning -- and I was in a rocking chair near a window with the baby in my arms, and it was hot and humid. I sat there for a long time, rocking away, watching the insects swirling around the streetlight. I am so tired, I said out loud. And I was.

Halfway through the show, I heard the kids arguing upstairs and hollered for them to come down now. They did and I asked, What on earth is going on up there? They laughed and said they were practicing for a Mother's Day show and
they were just discussing who would play the violins and who got the tambourine. I sent them back upstairs to clean up their rooms so I could listen to the rest of the show in peace. By the end, there were votes and tabulations and one of those young people was awarded a thousand dollars.

The next morning, Mother's Day, I was awakened around 4:00 a.m. by a whisper in my right ear: "We're all sick, and I threw up in my bed." The next two hours were spent washing sheets and pajamas, running hot baths, making MaltOMeal, and substituting worn jeans and flannel shirts for the church clothes I'd laid out the night before. "We're wrecking your Mother's Day," they said. No, I told them. This is what it's all about. Now why don't we have that show you were talking about.

So, while Mr. Sundberg slept soundly upstairs in the corner room, as the sun rose and the coffee brewed (pot number two) and the forgotten MaltOMeal congealed into a rubbery disc in the pot on the stove, the kids played for me "You Are My Sunshine." They played it three times so they could each have a go at the tambourine, and I clapped each time and said, Bravo, and they bowed and ran up to their rooms and came down with gifts and cards. They gave me a Whitman's Sampler and a small statue called "Mother and Son" and refrigerator magnets with motivational sayings. They also each made something -- a bouquet of tissue flowers, a Christmas tree carved of balsa wood and painted green, a woven potholder in green, purple, and orange. The card read, "You are the Best Mom in the World. And if you weren't our mom, and we saw you in the grocery store, we'd think you were pretty cool and we'd ask our own mom if we could hang out at your house."

As I tucked them into clean beds at the end of Mother's Day, I thanked the kids for the gifts and the performance and the cake shaped like a parachute. As I turned off the lights, I thought about those young people on the show and how truly proud their parents must be, and how being worn out really means you've worked hard at something meaningful for a very long time. And I have.

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